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Cloburn cuts cash funds for political party

Cloburn Quarry, the company which helps bankroll the right-wing New Party via its millionaire political activist chairman Robert Durward, has dramatically decreased the amount of its political donations

Cloburn Quarry, the company which helps bankroll the right-wing New Party via its millionaire political activist chairman Robert Durward, has dramatically decreased the amount of its political donations in a year that also saw pre-tax profits rise - but he also said he did not plan to contest the next General Election.

Durward, the chairman of the New Party and the owner of Lanarkshire-based Cloburn, last year pumped £125,000 into the party he founded, significantly down from the £209,093 he donated the year before.

After deducting the political donation, pre-tax profits at Cloburn - which quarries for granite and exports to overseas markets including Japan, the US, Belgium, Holland and Germany - inched its way up to £3.83m for the year to the end of September 2008, compared with £3.76m the year before.

Durward said: "Last year was a good year for us, particularly on the back of our export business.

"Holland was our best market, but of course they don't have Gordon Brown as Prime Minister.

"I believe they've actually broken the machine, and then all they've done is stuck some gum into holes.

"This year's figures just won't be anywhere near as good. The domestic market - particularly the construction sector - has completely fallen away."

No turnover figure was provided in Cloburn's accounts: this was because the firm filed its latest accounts under special Companies Act provisions, which allow small companies to produce abbreviated financial statements - although Durwood has said his company's revenues were also up in the last financial year.

When asked why his political donations had decreased, he replied: "Well, we still put a little bit into the party.

"But, frankly, I do not think we will be contesting the next election.

"The difficulty these days is getting people to stand up as a candidate, when all the media ever seems to care about is delving into their private lives.

"If you ask me, that MPs' expenses business did more harm than good for the political process."

Durward was the moving force behind the Scottish People's Alliance, which stood with two former Conservative MSPs at the 2004 Holyrood election and spent £490,000 of his money, yet did not fare well.

That party has since been renamed the New Party of Britain, which describes its politics as "centre-right".

Its website claims: "We offer something different - reality.

"The plain truth is that our country is in a deepening crisis and our politicians are not up to the job."

It also claims to "stand for rational, liberal and progressive politics".

Meanwhile, the accounts have revealed the three directors collectively earned £88,000 during the last financial year, and shared a dividend pay-out of £450,000 between them.

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