In Depth

Cameron’s Ball does nothing to improve Tory party image

Meanwhile Ed Miliband doesn’t help himself by avoiding a Chambers of Commerce conference

The Mole

Just when the Tories are trying to shake off the label of being the party for rich tax dodgers, David Cameron and most of the Cabinet hosted a Mayfair fundraiser - the Black and White Ball - for hedge fund managers, bankers, and the glitterati of the international business world.

Wealthy donors paid up to £15,000 a table to mix with Cabinet ministers as the party chiefs aimed to raise £3 million from the bash at the Grosvenor House Hotel, according to The Guardian.

Raffle prizes included the chance to go shoe shopping with Home Secretary Theresa May, known for her love of leopard-skin kitten heels. (See a fuller list here.)

Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail called it the “£3 million bash that Dave doesn’t want you to know about”. One table was taken by multi-millionaire Andrew Law, chief executive of Caxton Associates, which uses its £4.5 billion hedge fund — based in the tax haven state of Delaware — to bet on international currency movements. Guests included lap dancing club owner Peter Stringfellow.

Labour said the Ball’s list of organisers underlined the exclusive nature of Cameron’s fundraising network. The committee includes 21 registered donors to the party, who have contributed more than £4.6m. Just don’t mention HSBC, or Monaco or tax-dodging tricks.

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband has raised eyebrows by not being at the right do. He has snubbed the annual conference of the Chambers of Commerce today – at which both Cameron and Nick Clegg will speak – because of a diary clash. 

The BBC’s Norman Smith told Radio 4’s Today programme that his absence – having used a similar excuse to cry off another Chambers of Commerce bash in December - “tends to fuel the view that somehow Mr Miliband is not engaged, isn’t that interested in business”.   

It certainly undermines the efforts being made by shadow chancellor Ed Balls – will be will be there - to show that Labour is more pro-business than the Tories on one big issue: Britain’s continued membership of the EU.

Cameron will tell the Chambers of Commerce that they should be more generous and give their low-paid workers an inflation-busting pay rise.

That has raised a hollow laugh among public sector trade union leaders and TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady who point out their workers have had their pay rises capped by the government. 

Even the Tory-supporting Daily Mail is unimpressed. In an editorial, the paper accuses Cameron of throwing a big ball but having no Big Idea. Instead of pleading with bosses to be more generous, he should be cutting taxes.

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