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Monday, 26 March 2012

Cash for access isn't going to go away Dave

Prime Minister David Cameron

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said that the allegations that former Conservative party Treasurer, Peter Cruddas, offered dinners with David and Samantha Cameron for the bargain price of £250,000. as "completely unacceptable". The Conservative party moved quickly against Peter Cruddas ensuring he resigned within a few hours of the story breaking on the front of the Sunday Times.

The Labour party are obviously not going to leave it there after getting burnt themselves in a similar number of scandals. If you look at the Conservative party and the Labour party the both offer for a certain amount you can join different party "clubs". Looking at The Liberal Democrats then they let you donate as much as you like but don't offer any club memberships in return.

The Conservative Leader, Mr Cameron, has said "What happened was completely unacceptable. This is not the way that we raise money in the Conservative party, it shouldn't have happened. It's quite right that Peter Cruddas resigned. I'll make sure there is a proper party inquiry to make sure this can't happen again." But as the dinners were in Downing Street this really isn't acceptable.

The Cabinet Secretary should be asked to hold an investigation to ensure the Ministerial Code wasn't broken. The Conservative MP for Westminster & the Cities of London, Mark Field, told Radio 5 Live that a full and comprehensive list of Donner's who were entertained at Downing Street should be "published".

Labour's rent-a-quote Shadow Cabinet Minister without portfolio Michael Dugher has called for a "full independent inquiry" as has Ed Miliband. Mr Miliband saying "the announcement of an internal inquiry did not to far enough, calling for "a full independent investigation to reassure the British public". He said the investigation should cover "what happened, who knew what happened and what contributions were made".

Senior Liberal Democrat, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander described Mr Cruddas' comments as "utterly disgraceful" told Andrew Marr "What these headlines show today is the absolute necessity of having reforms to our party funding system to deal with this sort of taint that big donors might be able to influence policy."

After a couple of hours of allowing the Labour party to have free reign over the story senior Tories counter attacked referencing Labour's support from the unions and the Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone's infamous £1m donation to Tony Blair in 1997. The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said recently he wanted to go further on party funding and Mr Cruddas has increased the calls for that.

The Labour party are piling on the pressure this morning and the Prime Minister should hold his hands up and offer to publish all information on this story. It isn't going to go away and "drip drip" press coverage would be extremely damaging for the government. There will be constant speculation and possibly leaks from Conservative party headquarters. Mr Cameron should remember the words of Sir Humphrey "we must always tell the press freely and frankly anything they can found out some other way".