In a letter printed in today's Croydon Guardian the Leader of the Labour Group on Croydon Council Tony Newman questions whether I have been honest about who is paying for my campaign. Political parties are required by law to declare any donations over a minimum threshold. I know these aren't easy times to be a Labour politician seeking re-election but accusing your opponents of breaking the law without any evidence to substantiate that claim really is the politics of the gutter.
He specifically asks whether Croydon Central & South Conservative Federation has received any donations from Bearwood Corporate Services (a company in which Michael Ashcroft has a controlling shareholding) between 2005 and 2008. The answer is yes - in April 2005, we received a £10,000 donation towards Andrew Pelling's campaign. But since I was selected as our candidate in February 2008, we haven't received a penny either from Bearwood, Michael Ashcroft personally or any of his companies. Nor, since early 2009, have we received any funding from Conservative Campaign Headquarters.
It is true, as Tony says, that we have distributed a record amount of literature over the last two years – I believe politicians should keep in touch all year round, not just at election time. And it is true that to pay for that literature we have raised records amounts of money - but that is because there are lots of people who live or work in Croydon who are desperate not to have to endure another five years of Gordon Brown and are prepared to dig deep into their own pockets to help prevent it happening, not because of large donations from the national party or Michael Ashcroft.