It is no good arguing that dinners etc. are private, personal matters. When huge donors become personal friends and freely come in and out of the Prime Ministers and Chancellors office you can be sure the personal is political. Publishing a list of meetings for donors at number 10 wont reveal a list of dinners and meetings by Osborne with donors across the resteraunts of London. Lets hope the aptly names ‘Gold Inquiry’ looks at the whole rotten web of cash for policy.
In particular on the day it was revealed that a £570,000 Tory donor was put in charge of employment law review, we can reveal exclusively on Decisions, Decisions, Decisions today how a £387,850 donor to the Conservative Party has been the central guiding influence on George Osborne over the NPPF.
Lord Wolfson is son of Lord Wolfson, both separately ennobled as insiders and donors not hereditary. Lord David Wolfson, Baron Wolfson of Sunningdale was Thatcher’s Chief of Staff from 1979 to 1985. and later founded Next.
Simon Wolfson is now Chairman of Next.
Both Lords are Trustees of the Chalres Wolfson Charitable trust which funds well known NPPF influencing Think Tank the Policy Exchange as well as Civitas as well as having somewhat of a record of paying its own trustees for ‘professional services’ i.e. back scratching tax dodge.
According to Conservative insiders he is the key driver of the NPPF
Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail
Beware the Wolfson in Next clothing
High-level rancour has been caused by the planning law proposals which could endanger the green belt. Cue political carnage.
Our first victim is Lord Wolfson, a cerebral schmoozer. Matey with George Osborne. Matey with Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin. Matey with the editor of The Times.
Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next and the son of former Great Universal Stores chairman Lord (David) Wolfson, this week signed a business executives’ round-robin letter which defended the planning proposals.
No great surprise, really. It is Wolfson who is credited with devising the rotten idea in the first place!
Wolfson, 43, a Thatcherite egghead, is said by a friendly acquaintance to be ‘self-confident when discussing business, yet insecure socially’.
A former Tory frontbencher is less kind: ‘Wolfson is full of himself, owes his success to his father and doesn’t think things through politically. He had a mad scheme to build a high-speed railway [ no Lord Wolfson said Motorway] between Oxford and Cambridge — right through several Tory seats. Now he has landed us in the mire with this daft idea.’
Some were surprised (aghast, even) when this rich donor was made a peer by David Cameron. They hope the PM now recognises the man’s limitations and is never, ever made a minister.
Indeed the extent to which Lord Wolfson only has a social life inside Number 11 and the Osborne Circle is revealed by the fact that he is now marrying one of Osborne’s key aides.
From researching the Electoral Commission donations database we can reveal that Simon Wolfson gave £387,850 to the conservative party between 2006 and 2011. Would that be considered ‘Premier League’. In addition he through the ‘charitable trust’ above has been a key funder for the conservative front organisation / dumb tank – the Policy Exchange, which of course is immune to electoral commission rules or any proposed rules on regulation of lobbying.
Lord Wolfson has been a key influence on the Policy Exchanges thinking on Planning. As we revealed the 2007 Report ‘The Best Laid Plans’ – which laid the foundations for the NPPF – had its forward written by Wolfson, and its launch party hosted by George Osborne . The report called for the abolition of the Green Belt, it attacked (page 48) the ‘inflexible, Soviet style, central planning system of so called ‘plan led’ development’ .
Lord Wolfson has attacked planning policies such as the Green Belt, Town Centre First, Plan Led development and Protection of the Countryside as ‘Slow, Luddite and Backward Looking’ , for him and Osborne the NPPF does not go far enough, democratically decided development plans, town centre first and the Green Belt are next with the overall weakening of the planning system enabling a future wave of ‘Treasury Taliban‘ reforms.