Donations from property developers to the Tories are very much under the microscope after the Telegraph - which is campaigning against the coalition’s planning policy - yesterday highlighted how many millions have been given to the party by the industry.
The newspaper has looked into “The Property Forum”, a (not secret) group of real estate executives who have breakfast meetings with Conservatives.
The forum is chaired by Mike Slade, chief executive of Helical Bar, who has donated more than £300,000 to the Conservatives individually and through the company. In an interview in 2008 he talked about how he wanted the Tories to shed their “nimby” reputation.
The Tories deny that the forum has any role in shaping party policy.
Having known Slade in the past I can report that he is a successful entrepreneur, a prize-winning yachtsman, a bon viveur and a great lunch companion. He is also very candid.
Here is a quote he gave me a few years ago in relation to party donations which we published on the blog at the time:
Mr Slade (pictured on the left) recently gave £20,000 to Boris Johnson’s campaign to be London mayor and has donated £100,000 to the Tories in the past.The entrepreneur concedes that his support could be seen as an attempt to influence Mr Johnson’s policy on tall buildings in outer London.
“You do run the thin line of someone saying: I’m only doing this to have access and influence, but that was what politics was always about. It is a little unfair but there must be 20 per cent truth in it.”