Treasurer troubles dog main parties

By politics.co.uk staff

Embarrassing headlines appear to have prompted the resignation of the Conservative party’s next treasurer, as Labour treasurer candidate John Prescott warns his party is “on the verge of bankruptcy”.

David Rowland, once described as a “shady financier” in parliament, is one of Britain’s richest men and had been set to become the next Tory treasurer in October.

But media scrutiny about his business practices appears to have dissuaded him from taking on the role, after he moved to Britain last year to enable donations to the Conservatives worth nearly £3 million.

“I was honoured to be asked to become treasurer,” he explained.

“Unfortunately my developing business interests mean I will not have the time to give that role the focus and attention it deserves.

“I remain deeply committed to the future success of the Conservative party. David Cameron is a great leader of the party and of our country and I will continue to actively support him and the party in the years ahead.”

Stanley Fink, currently co-treasurer alongside Michael Spencer, will continue as sole treasurer after the Tory party conference this autumn.

Meanwhile the perilous state of the Labour party’s finances were highlighted by former deputy prime minister John Prescott, who is standing for the treasurer post.

Writing in the Guardian, he said Labour was £20 million in debt and on the brink of bankruptcy.

“We are only kept alive by the Herculean work of party staff and volunteers, trade union contributions, high value donations and the goodwill of the Co-op bank,” he said.

“We need to strengthen the role of treasurer – not only to hold the leadership to account in unnecessarily spending money we don’t have, but also to make sure we have the campaign capacity to deliver.”

Lord Prescott said the ‘election that never was’ of autumn 2007, in which new prime minister Gordon Brown contemplated going to the country before thinking otherwise, cost the party £1.5 million.