Sunday, 25 March 2012

PM’s fundraiser quits over cash for access

ReportSoftcapitalist | March 25 8:10pm | Permalink
It is not a matter of whether party X or party Y receive donations, a more relevant debate in my view is on the power of lobbying groups in influencing policy. Is this a failure of democracy, in that the government does not craft policy with the interest of the taxpayer in mind, and the objective to improve life for most of its citizens, and the prospects of future generations? Or maybe people are happy lo live with that, so let's just drop it and move on. This should not be just a media scandal or an embarrassment but an opportunity to reform the circus. Oh well, the apetite for reform was rather feeble in this Budget, so don't hold your breath. 

What is disgusting is the rabbits in the headlights deny it as if they are as pure as first snowflakes. Just spell it out loud for the camera: Yes there is a hugely powerful lobbying industry in London and we need a powerful lobbying industry as any of us (current ministers) may get a job with the posh political consulting firms (on income eligible for the defunct rate of 50%). 

If policy is influenced either by noisy extremist groups (eg minimum alcohol pricing, Heathrow runway expansion) or by toff interests (eg environment, planning) and the influence is acquired through "donations" then what is the moral difference between the UK and Nigeria? 

To all "realists" who say come back on Earth, this is real life, I reply only 60 years ago some British officers thought the only way to deal with the colonies is to kick their butts. This "realism" means complacency at best, and conservatism at worst.

David Cameron has been plunged into a “cash-for-access” crisis after his party’s co-treasurer was forced to resign when it was revealed he had offered access to the prime minister and chancellor in return for donations of £250,000.
Peter Cruddas, the founder of CMC Markets, quit on Saturday night after footage was broadcast showing him apparently making the claim to undercover reporters, posing as international financiers, from the Sunday Times.





The co-treasurer, who also sat on the Tory party’s board, told the journalists that making a “huge donation” was the best way to gain access to senior government figures. “It will be awesome for your business,” he said.
Mr Cruddas also told the reporters he could make sure their views on business issues were “fed into” the Downing Street policy machine.
“Two hundred to two-fifty is the premier league,” he is heard to say in the Sunday Times footage. “What you would get is, when you talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron-Osborne dinners.
“You really do pick up a lot of information and when you see the prime minister, you are seeing David Cameron, not the prime minister. But within that room everything is confidential – you can ask him practically any question you want.”
Mr Cameron promised an inquiry following the revelations. “What happened is completely unacceptable. This is not the way that we raise money in the Conservative party, it shouldn't have happened,'' he told BBC television on Sunday.
“It was rogue behaviour,” a senior party member said. “The whole fundraising team has been besmirched by Peter’s ego and hubris.”
The Conservative party was scrambling to distance itself from Mr Cruddas’s actions as the political backlash began. It said in a statement that donations “do not buy government policy” and said it would “urgently investigate” any evidence to the contrary.
Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury in the coalition, said the comments were “utterly disgraceful”, while Labour called on the prime minister to say “exactly what he knew and when” about any efforts to sell access. David Miliband, the former foreign secretary, said the disclosures showed the Tories had not changed.
“My own view is that they didn’t win the last general election because the public didn’t really believe the Tory party had changed. The revelations today go to the heart of the Tory party claim that you can trust the Tory party because they have got rid of their bad old ways – from what we know they haven’t,” Mr Miliband told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.
In a statement released in the early hours on Sunday, Mr Cruddas said he regretted “any impression of impropriety arising from my bluster’’.
Mr Cruddas said in a statement that his remarks had been a “bluster” which he deeply regretted and insisted that donors could not gain undue access to senior figures.
“Clearly there is no question of donors being able to influence policy or gain undue access to politicians,” said Mr Cruddas. “It was categorically not the case that I could offer, or that David Cameron would consider, any access as a result of a donation.”
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