It is hard to see how the Conservatives have so easily been put on the back foot by this issue. They never promised to be "whiter than white, purer than pure." Labour did. Labour made much of "sleaze" under John Major, none of which was remotely in the same league as Labour's behaviour in office. To mention them together is like comparing boys playing conkers with contractors swinging demolition balls from cranes.
The Conservatives are not - nor were they ever likely to be after the last election - in power. Many donors gave money in the simple and laudable belief that a functioning democracy needs an effective Opposition. Sadly, they could probably sue the Conservative Party for misrepresentation on that point.
So far from expecting any corrupt advantage from their loans or donations, Conservative supporters had every reason to fear corrupt disadvantage - i.e. Labour denying government contracts (no small matter in such a socialist economy) to those who support their opponents. That is a serious fear - and very telling about the nature of modern Britain.
I regret that the Tories have badgered their donors into publishing their names. They gave money confidentially and in good faith and there was no reason to ask them to change their agreement. At least the Conservatives asked, however. At the first sign of trouble, Labour threw their donors to the media wolves without hesitation - regardless of previous agreements. They have made the business men concerned, some quite innocent (and all saints by comparison with Labour politicians) look like crooks.
No-one will trust either major party again when it comes to political contributions, which is bad for democracy - and leads to the danger of impoverished parties with minimal memberships doing a deal on State Funding which will break their last tenuous connections with political reality.
BBC NEWS | Politics | Tories expected to reveal lenders