Blog: Dave LeggettLeyland Daf?

Dave Leggett | 22 October 2008

There's a row brewing in the UK over political donations and whether a leading opposition politician was soliciting a donation to the Conservative Party from Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. It's actually illegal for non-Brits to make political donations here and it's being suggested that routing a donation via a UK company was discussed. Deripaska owns the embattled but resilient UK-based maker of light commercial vehicles, LDV (it's part of GAZ; they have really been through the mill with different owners there...). And that's the company being named as a possible route for a nice juicy donation.

Except reports keep referring to it as Leyland Daf. It's LDV, people. It was once Leyland DAF, when it was owned by Netherlands-based DAF trucks. But DAF got out and the company was eventually reformed as LDV, the initials constituting a nod to the history but no more than that - it doesn't actually stand for Leyland Daf Vans (in fact, LDV is now rebranding as Maxus).

Anyway, what were the assembled bunch on that superyacht chatting about over drinks? Sounds like Mandy (Peter Mandelson) had one too many and rubbished the PM, while George Osborne perhaps wondered whether he'd struck gold in finding himself in such close proximity to a Russian oligarch with extremely deep pockets (did he and the man responsible for raising funds for the Conservative Party want to talk to him about the weather?). Sounds to me like the subject of donations probably cropped up, but nothing actually happened.

The interesting thing here, though, is the backstabbing.  

Osborne later saw an irresistible opportunity for cheap political gain and briefed the media on Mandy's rather colourful private remarks about GB - embarrassing all concerned, except himself. An outraged Rothschild, the dismayed host (but one who has brought the parties together and is not completely covered in glory himself) subsequently sticks the boot in to Osbo publicly by way of revenge. Nice. And now Gordon Brown can innocently say he wants the whole thing investigated, while watching both Osbo and Mandy squirm.

As my father always says, pick your drinking buddies carefully. 

Must admit though, it's an unlikely way for a small manufacturer of commercial vehicles in the English Midlands to be getting in the news.


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