CSM: a useful tip-off
Following up on this post, I get e-mail from Matthew Turner, who points to an explanation. Communications & Strategy Management Ltd. does indeed have a web site of sorts, at csm-limited.com. It appears to be a political consulting/lobbying firm that does the Tories’ demographics/voter-database work, which basically consists of the Richard Murphy mentioned in the past post. The Web site was registered in April, around the same time as the company, through an American proxy registrar. Although the company is registered in somebody’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon, its operational address places it at:
Coleshill Manor Campus
Coleshill Manor is the headquarters of a variety of Tory organisations, notably the West Midlands Tory party itself and the commercial entity known variously as Constituency Campaigning Services Ltd. or Coleshill Campaigning Services Ltd, which essentially provided the services of the party’s central institutions to individual Conservative Associations against a contribution, organising things like junk mail, phone calls, and other jewels of our society.
The purpose of this structure was to render CCS a commercial company in the meaning of the Political Parties, Elections, and Referendums Act – if you gave money to an individual MP’s campaign, who then used it to pay for the services of a political consultancy, you would fall under the provisions of the Act and your donation would be both recorded and limited. If, however, you gave it to a commercial company which then sold its services to the campaign, not so much. Here’s the Other Taxpayers’ Alliance.
Various investigations have occurred into Coleshill – notably that the Tories use large amounts of office space there paid for by various millionaires via the companies based in the building. CCS alone received £1m in donations before the 2005 election. There’s also a major call centre there.
Rounding it up, we have here part of a political campaign structure designed to accept external donations outside the legal framework, that is plugged into the Whips’ Office at the far end. Neat!