Forgive me if I'm not in any way shocked or surprised by the revelation that Peter Cruddas, the now ex-treasurer of the Conservative party, openly suggested that donations to the value of £250,000 would win businessmen personal access to the dinner tables of Dave and George. After all, as the Graun points out, the party's website has long openly stated the benefits donors will get for pledging specific amounts of money: those with £50,000 burning a hole in their pocket gain access to "The Leader's Group", with members "invited to join David Cameron and other senior figures at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches". In other words, exactly the same privileges as Cruddas told the Sunday Times hacks they'd be getting for five times that amount.
The real issue should be that the Sunday Times hacks indicated to Cruddas that they would be donating either from or through Liechtenstein, which is illegal. Instead we've had Cameron in his now usual fashion when a scandal hits pledging openness, telling us who he's met but not even an outline of what was discussed, which is what we actually care about. It's also meant that despite this being about bought influence in the Conservative party, it's instantly been turned round by the Tories into being a reason for destroying the Labour party through placing a cap on donations, thereby breaking the link between Labour and the unions. And so, as always, nothing changes.
Labels: Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, David Cameron, funding scandal, Peter Cruddas, political donations, politics