So just to say that I'd be pretty annoyed about Caledonia Investments if I were a Lib Dem. After all, the case that Caledonia put to shareholders for using their money to fund the Tories was about the need to elect a Conservative government. I’ve been back and checked the AGM circulars issued to shareholders (available here) and there doesn’t appear to be any mention at all of the Lib Dems in any of them, though Labour is mentioned directly.
Yet, as I’ve blogged before, half of the money Caledonia has deployed so far has gone to the Meon Valley (a new seat this election) which is a Conservative-Lib Dem marginal with Labour a distant third. And when I went back and looked at where else they were chucking their cash about, it turns out that Caledonia has also given money to the Tories in other seats where the Lib Dems are clearly the target, not Labour:
Eastleigh – Chris Huhne’s constituency
Winchester – Mark Oaten’s constituency
Sutton & Cheam – a Lib Dem marginal
Romsey – an ultra-tight Lib Dem marginal
In total almost two-thirds of the money Caledonia has spent so far has gone on funding fights against the Lib Dems, not Labour. We’re not talking not big bucks – Caledonia has only given the Tories £133k in total so far – but the fact that the majority of it is being used against the Lib Dems doesn’t feel consistent with their arguments for making the donations.
I also wonder if those asset managers that voted for these donations knew that they would be funding anti-Lib Dem drives? You certainly wouldn’t guess that was the plan from the AGM circulars, or the comments from Tim Ingram made last year about the decision to fund the Tories:
"It is worth understanding why we are doing it. It is not for purely political reasons, it's economic reasons. We are an investment trust so we take equity positions in other companies, which are mainly British. We firmly believe that our shareholders will get greater wealth creation in the economic conditions created by a Tory government than by a Labour government."If that were really the case, why not solely target Labour marginals, to ensure that less Labour MPs are elected?
Funny one, innit?