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went wrong with Peter Cruddas isn’t clear since David Cameron‘s old friend Lord Feldman, co-chairman of the party, has withdrawn from that role, presumably because his name crops up so often on the dinner list.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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