Cameron stages photo op to publicise donor’s firm

As the Evening Standard reports:

David Cameron is being accused of rewarding Tory donors with free publicity.

The charge came after he went to the training centre for trucking firm Scania to publicise an announcement on new apprenticeships.

Scania’s UK distributor is businessman Chris Kelly, the deputy chairman of a donors group called the Midlands Industrial Council, which has given £561,780 to the Conservatives since Mr Cameron became leader. It is not the first time Mr Cameron has staged photo-opportunities at factories run by donors. On a trip to Sweden last year he visited a Scania factory.

In May 2006 he opened a new distribution centre in Basingstoke for Midland Chilled Foods, which is owned by Peter Shirley, another senior member of Midlands Industrial Council. In September 2006 he opened a new JCB plant in India and in November 2007 visited the firm’s Staffordshire HQ.

JCB Chairman Sir Anthony Bamford is president of the MIC and gave £ 1million to the Conservatives before the last election. Mr Cameron also declares being given “helicopter and private plane travel” by JCB.

And in March 2007 he opened a new factory for electric vehicle manufacturer Modec in Coventry. Founder Jamie Borwick has donated £33,500 to the Conservative Party and gave £5,000 to Mr Cameron’s leadership campaign.

UPDATE: A little bit of background for people who haven’t seen the previous stories on this topic: for some years now David Cameron has come under criticism for the regularity with which companies that he helps promote via opportunities that are presented to him because he is Conservative Party leader turn out to have links to either himself or the Conservative Party.

For several previous examples, see The Times. Whilst one individual photo op or other incident may seem innocuous, the question here is about the regularity with which such connections exist. ConservativeHome has also previously questioned this: “David Cameron must counter product placement critique”.

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