After Peter Cruddas, what? Now the brash, up-market barrow boy’s been topped, Tory central office has of course gone very quiet. But since the 23 dinners grace of Cameron/Osborne that we now know about raised several million pounds, it’s unlikely they will cease – just be ever so much more discreet. But this isn’t cash for access, it’s actually cash for policy change – and probably cheap at the price. Corrupt of course because it secretly bypasses elections, political parties, votes in the House of Commons and all the paraphernalia of democracy on which we pride outselves so dearly, but good business if you’re an insider in the ‘premier league’ and if corruption is your particular tipple, as it probably is. Never forget that the Tories were strongly opposed to the 2003 Anti-Bribery Act, campaigned to water it down, and even now want it repealed – no doubt one of the aims of the top league dinner guests.
Can you believe a word Cameron says? Just before the last election he said this: “Secret corporate lobbying goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics – with money buying power, power fishing for money, and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interests”. What a perfect description of the Cameron No.10. Watch for every shift of policy from now on. There’s already quite a little list where the sticky fingers of the lobbyists can be detected – the 50% tax cut, the ‘re-think’ on the Heathrow 3rd runway, quite likely Cameron’s veto of a new EU treaty and the ruling out of a Tobin tax (though maybe that was pushing at an open door).
The only way to stop this corruption is to have a public register of all those persons or organisations lobbying Ministers, which is mandatory (not voluntary as at present), includes private meetings wherever a policy change is sought, and which is enforced by the sanction that any Minister found to be circumventing this requirement is sacked.