It seems that no one’s immune from the credit crunch. Funding cut-backs are forcing the Conservatives to make redundancies – and the campaign centre they use in Warwickshire is to close too.
The decision seems surprising, as the next general election is, at most, 18 months away, and could quite possibly come sooner.
But the recession is hitting everybody, and that certainly doesn’t exclude the Tories’ West Midlands backers, who have supported Constituency Campaigning Services through their generosity.
Of course, we don’t really know whether the Midlands Industrial Council has run into hard times or not.
No one is immune from the current economic crisis, and it’s safe to assume that the region’s richest men and women are now giving less away, whether to political parties, charities or any other causes.
But as both the council and Constituency Campaigning Services are private organisations, details of their funding arrangements are not made public in full.
And it is possible that this lack of transparency is the real reason the Conservatives have decided not to use the centre any more.
It is, supposedly, a commercial organisation. But it was created specifically to provide services to the Conservative Party.
In fact, it is to all intents and purposes part of the Tory machine, even if it is managed at arm’s length.
This was the gist of the complaint Labour made to the Electoral Commission. It was rejected on the grounds that there was nothing wrong with this as long as the Tories were charged commercial rates for use of Constituency Campaigning Services’s facilities, but even if the arrangements are legal they are certainly not transparent.
For some years now, Labour has attempted to paint the Midlands Industrial Council as a sinister body. This is nonsense, but in the current climate it is not enough to obey the letter of the law. It is also important to be seen to be doing everything right.
While former Conservative leader Michael Howard may have been happy to use Constituency Campaigning Services in the 2004 general election, Mr Cameron may be wary of doing the same in 2009 or 2010.
Regardless of the precise circumstances leading to the closure, it should lead to a reassessment of the way the Tories use donations.
Business leaders have every right to support political parties and some, of course, donate to Labour and the Liberal Democrats too. But there should never be any doubt about where the cash has come from and how exactly it is spent.