How the Tories turned generous donors into sinister lobbyists

21 October 2011

The Fox-Werritty story took an interesting turn this week with the news that
Conservative Party treasurer Howard Leigh had been soliciting funds from wealthy Jewish donors. The Jewish Chronicle had the story first. It was then “revealed” by the Guardian a day later, although, to be fair, they did put some serious meat on the bones.

The coverage of this story has been fascinating. It has been unedifying to watch the government scrabbling to blame sinister “lobbyists” for its predicament. Even now, the party is denying that it actively solicited cash from
the three Jewish donors to Fox’s pet projects. The individuals involved, Poju Zabludowicz, Mick Davis and Michael Lewis are said to be furious at the suggestion that they sought out Adam
Werritty’s organisations to fund. Tory fundraisers may regret this in future.

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This story is drifting into dangerous territory. There is a suggestion in some of the coverage that the fact that these funders are “pro-Israel” is somehow sinister in itself. What
exactly is wrong with being pro-Israel? Aren’t we all pro-Israel? Even the PLO is pro-Israel. 

It is absurd to suggest that Zabludowicz, Davis and Lewis were attempting to bolster Fox’s pro-Israel stance, which was never in question. They gave money to Werritty because Fox and Leigh
asked them to.

This is a story about donors — by spinning it as a story about lobbying, the Tories have lost huge credibility within the “pro-Israel” Jewish community and they may lose much more
than that.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Good blog.

  • Samantha Saye


  • Patricia Shaw

    Spare us the banal propagandist eimplicity of the late Melanie Phillips, with her outmoded refrain that any comment against Zionism is anti semitism.

    People do not choose to be black, indian, jewish, or French… Racism against what we are is barbarous. But those who choose to follow an ideology, to become extremists set themselves up for scrutiny.

    That s the difference, so don t pretend that a vote against Zionist expansionism is an insult to a Jew.

  • Patricia Shaw

    Its not pro Israel, its pro Neocon, Zionist, land theft in the long term, lies in the short term Israel.

    There is a massive difference and you know it.

    Werity was hardly investing his hard earned lobby cash in a solution for peace, was he?

  • Martin Bright

    Journalists should probably flag up when they are being ironic. Anyway… just to be clear. My point is that the phrase “pro-Israel” now means pretty much the same as “neo-con” or “Islamophobe” in liberal discourse. (i.e. not left-wing, not humane, not one of us.) I am not suggesting that the PLO is a cheerleader for Israel, just that the fact of being in favour of Israel should be completely uncontroversial.
    Rhoda makes an important point. Of course donors and lobbying merge into one in the popular consciousness. Indeed it is impossible to entirely distinguish the two. But that is different from saying, as the Tories have done in this case: “you will be a generous donor until such a time that this becomes embarrassing to us, at which point you will become a sinister lobbyist.”

  • I S

    Rewrite please. I have no idea what points you are trying to make. Were you sober?

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Please explain to me how the ordinary oxfordshire housewife is expected to tell a donor driven by the highest ideals of democracy from one who want to buy a bit of power and influence, without referring to het prejudice. Does not the hypothesis that they are all at it fit the observed facts and behaviours on offer?

  • Judy

    Even the PLO is pro-Israel.

    The PLO is pro-Israel in the same sense that foxes are pro-chickens. The PLO issues streams of endless propaganda celebrating terrorists who attack Israel. The PLO is the central instigator of the BDS campaigns, including the cultural boycott campaign which campaigns to ban all cultural contacts with any Israeli person or institution, including chamber orchestras, dancers and universities other than those who explicitly condemn Israel’s occupation and support PLO goals.

    The PLO’s symbol is an image of what it claims as the territory of the Palestinian state. it embraces the entire territory of Israel,the PA areas and Gaza as one unfied Palestinian state.

    Martin, please note: tactically acknowledging the existence of Israel and co-operating with it an on intermim basis as a necessary pragmatic step to the ultimate goal of creating a single Palestinian state which extinguishes Israel’s existence does not amount to be being “pro-Israel”.

    It’s much the same as calling the UK government pro-Iran and pro North Korea.

    Sloppy journalism of which you should be ashamed.

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