Published on 26 Mar 2012

The donors who came to dinner

Not all the party donors who’ve had dinner with the Camerons in the Downing Street flat would count as “old friends,” I hear. If it turns out there is a coincidence of timing between someone relatively new to the Tory donation cause and an invite to the flat things could get a whole lot stickier.

No. 10 and Cabinet Office staff are going through the lists of who has been along. Samantha Cameron has had to trawl her diary because the dinners in the flat would be private occasions not recorded officially. These names are then being cross-checked with names of donors. There is clearly a reluctance to publish the names but that may have to change.

Who is heading the inquiry into what went wrong with Peter Cruddas isn’t clear since David Cameron‘s old friend Lord Feldman, co-chairman of the party, has withdrawn from that role, presumably because his name crops up so often on the dinner list. I suspect Sue Gray, head of propriety and ethics team and director of private offices group, will be closely involved.

Is it enough to change the law, an “MPs’ expenses” moment for party funding? Certainly not to change the law in the direction that Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the committee for standards in public life, would like. The government has been showing signs of wanting to use its majority in the Commons to impose a new settlement on party funding on the Labour Party and the chances of the accelerated talks on party funding coming up with a happy all-party compromise seem as remote as ever.

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7 reader comments

  1. Saltaire Sam says:

    There are a few things I’m not clear about on this story.

    Why so cheap? After all if you are capable of handing over £200k (for no other reason than you like the cut of Dave’s jib)then you are probably a top rate tax payer. So, Ozzie’s budget means you get your £200k back within the lifetime of a parliament. So it’s the taxpayers who are funding the tory party or more precisely, the pensioners.

    If, as we are reassured, Cruddas was not telling the truth when he claimed access and influence, would donors have the right to sue after handing over their £200k and not getting a photo in the flat with the Camerons?

    Finally, having spent 13 years criticising labour, why is the tories’ default position when caught fiddling: they did it too? Don’t they think they are better than labour? Don’t they think the electorate (almost) elected them because they wanted rid of labour-type shenanigans? Please, sir, he did it too, might work at Eton but not in the real world.

    I think we have another duckhouse/moat moment. Or maybe a Bernie Ecclestone moment (yet another lesson Dave borrowed from his Thatcherite hero Tone).

    1. Mudplugger says:

      Quite right, Sam, but I can’t imagine we will ever achieve real transparency from the murky world of political influence.
      T’was ever thus and t’will ever be thus – the best we can hope for is that we embarrass them into letting just a little disinfecting sunlight onto the fetid subject, but we can be sure that the real ‘work’ will simply move further underground, away from our prying eyes.
      As you say, they’re all at it so, despite faux-outrage, they’ll all cover up for each other, and we lose again.

  2. Phili Edwards says:

    Gary,

    Interesting question here: why do you think Murdoch’s let loose the dogs on Cameron………..?

    Supplementary question: does this presage a sale of Murdoch’s UK newspapers, a parting shot?

  3. Citrizen Smith says:

    Multi millionaire or not the spiv caught on camera was obviously not the calibre any party would want, extremely unprofessional.

    Lets have complete transparency… i.e all communications to be publically available.

    Nothing else needed.

  4. Saltaire Sam says:

    I was wondering, if money was no object, who would I pay £200k to have dinner with?

    Mandela in his prime.

    George Orwell.

    Michelle Pfeiffer (but that’s a different story)

  5. Philip says:

    Because of the risk (perceived or real) that donations to political parties buy influence, ALL meetings between donors and Ministers & political advisers (or equivalent in Opposition) should be transparent & published. After all, the Government has insisted on practically every item of public expenditure being published on Government websites.
    On a far more important matter: is there a range of fake tans available in No 10? Blair always seemed rather tanned for a PM who seemed to be constantly in meetings (or perhaps it was those summer hols with his mates Silvio and Cliff?) And Cameron seems to have acquired a rather decent tan too. (Major & Brown used the grey shade, of course). In this era of transparency, I think we should be told.

  6. Lemog says:

    If, as we are assured, Cruddas was lying, shouldn`t he be prosecuted for trying to obtain money under false pretences? Which, of course, is never going to happen as opening that worm can would be a disaster for the tories. Why Cameron is denying it is true remains a mystery, as they even advertise access to politicians for a hefty donation, so it isn`t much of a leap of faith to imagine access to the PM himself could be gained for £250K+. The big concern is the ability to influence government policy if you have the money and we all know that no political party would allow that to happen, don`t we?

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