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Smaller donations and local activism are the key to cleaning up politics

The Conservative Party is back in the black for the first time since 2001, the latest set of audited accounts reveal.

Covering 2006, the accounts reflect a 4.2 million surplus on the year - compared with a deficit in 2005 - plus a significant reduction in the Party's net liabilities, as well as donations amounting to 20 millions, which is way ahead of the 5 million donated to Labour during the same period.

Commenting, Conservative Party Chairman Caroline Spelman said: "Under David Cameron, the Conservative Party is changing. We are widening our supporter base and raising more funds from a broader number of donors."

And responding to Sir Hayden Phillips' progress statement on the Inter-Party Talks on funding, she said: "The widely-held public perception that the awards of favours, influence and possibly even honours have been traded for party loans and donations reinforces the need for reforms to clean up politics. Changes must restore public trust, encourage grassroots participation and promote local democracy."

Mrs Spelman added: "The key to any comprehensive agreement is an across-the-board cap on large donations, so that parties are not seen to be dependent on a tiny number of large donors.

"But Labour must realise that this has to apply to the union barons, not just individuals and companies. There can be no increase in state funding for political parties without such a cap."

The accounts show that for the first time since 2001, the Party has a surplus (of 4,207,000); that the Party finished the year without an overdraft; that total donations for the year were 20 million; that total net liabilities have been reduced from 18 million to 9 million; that the Party has set aside contributions to cover its pension fund deficit; and that 2 million has been invested in software ahead of a possible general election.

Spelman, Caroline

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