I found Peter Cruddas outside the Palace of Westminster two weeks ago in a withlong trench coat. We made eye contact and he knew what I wanted: ‘Get your access, buy your Cameron here. Two dinners for £300,000’. Sadly, I only had my Oyster Card and £2.70 in my wallet so had to pass, but with such brazen tactics, it was only a matter of time before he was rumbled.
Thanks to a Sunday Times investigation, Cruddas is now out on his ear and the Tory Party has run from him quicker than Georgie O from a poor person. The former Party Treasurer was recorded selling access to the Prime Minister in a rather unConservative manner: using a football analogy. A £250,000 donation was said to be in the ‘Premier League’ thus guaranteeing access to DC & GO.
Now Number 10 have slowly but ever so surely realised the level of public (or media) dissatisfaction with this and issued a carousel of u-turns culminating in the publishing of a list of all of Cameron’s meetings with Party donors. Alongside this, is an assertion that no donor was given exclusive access to policy chiefs, which if I had just given a man promising just that, a large bundle of cash, I would be wondering who to speak to regarding a refund.
Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Labour have gone on the attack, rounding on this practice. But whilst trade unions offer a more democratic voice than single donors, they must realise a full blown attack on ‘cash for Cameron’ leaves them open to cries of hypocrisy. A meeting with a donor is a meeting with a donor regardless of whether it is a rich man or a trade union. That is why Labour should focus less on the act of meeting with the donors and start placing the individual donors on the proverbial (alas) racks, asking why they are donating. Even a monk taking a vow of silence could make the case for supporting a body with the intention of protecting the individual rights of workers to a man who probably owns half a county. And to beat the punch, Labour should have shown their transparency by publishing their meetings before this issue turns to taint them. The Lib Dems could do the same if they had donors to begin with.
This corrupt practice is awful but are people too naive to think that people will donate huge sums of money just because they like the Conservative Party logo. We shouldn’t be focusing on these knucklehead issues, but instead take a few steps back and see that lobbyists are embroiled in the same mess (in fact it was a Labour lobbyist that helped to start this). As are newspaper proprietors…isn’t that correct Sunday Times owner Rupert Murdoch? There has to be a greater concerted effort to exclude money from the echelons of power. Or alternatively, you can give it to me. I can give you all the access you want.