Tories Accused of Hypocrisy over Use of Public Money to Finance Campaigns

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THE TORIES were accused last night of "plundering" public funds to help get their MPs re-elected, despite their opposition to the state funding of political parties.

Documents seen by The Independent show the Tories are using MPs' parliamentary allowances to pay for campaign literature in their constituencies.

Leaked documents demonstrate that all Tory MPs have been asked to spend at least pounds 3,500 of taxpayers' money as a "consultancy fee" to party experts for campaign materials.

The document reads: "Join MP services by paying a 12 monthly consultancy fee of pounds 3,500 plus VAT. This should be claimed from the salary provision element of the allowances."

The "MPs services consultancy" has been set up by the Tory party to produce and distribute leaflets, newspapers, newsletters and even calling cards in local areas.

The Tories oppose state funding of political parties, even though last year they received at least pounds 1m in state subsidies.

Last night, Labour accused the Conservatives of "hypocrisy" and said it was absurd for them to oppose state funding while using taxpayers' money to produce campaign literature.

"It is ironic that they are against state funding but are happy to use public funds to pay for their local election materials," said Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich West. …