Millionaire Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas was caught on video bragging that he could get people access to Number 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister and policy makers for a price.
SkyNews reported today that "In an undercover investigation, The Sunday Times claimed Mr Cruddas offered two international financiers the opportunity to lobby Mr Cameron directly on policy matters if they donated at least £250,000 a year to the party's election war chest. It said the Liechtenstein-based financiers were actually undercover reporters who secretly filmed Mr Cruddas at their meeting in a hotel overlooking Lake Zurich. In the meeting, Mr Cruddas told the undercover reporters that "things will open up for you" if they donated that amount of money to the Conservatives. He added: "It will be awesome for your business."
After the video came to light Cruddas claimed that it was all bravado. Today he has resigned and the fall out looks set to hit the
UK Conservative Party hard. and so it should. Back in 2010 the Tories insisted that they would "clean up their act" Pundits maintain that the Tory sleaze back then was one reason why they did not win an overall majority to govern the UK. "Cash for questions" appears to haunt the Tories. David Cameron has been adamant that this was all in the past but now it seems that was simply not true.
Whether Mr Cruddas was just talking up the benefits of a hefty donation to the Tory party or speaking the truth is for you to decide. If he was offering access to policy changing for cash it stinks. No other word will do. It leaves one wondering if such Tory payments have had any bearing on recent policy changes plus the Spring Budget last week.
The Tories have always used the defence that Labour receive some funding from the Unions. With less and less people in the UK being paid up Union members this money will pale by comparison to Tory Party funders. Leaders from the main party are now to look at ways to address political party funding in order to make it transparent, above board and fair.
Mr Cruddas himself says he "deeply regrets the impression of impropriety arising from his bluster". Does he? Or does he regret being caught out? The government has been quick to distance themselves from Cruddas and stress that no policy has been changed due to large donations. Really? How can we ever know that?
Whilst Cruddas did not break any UK law as such his actions reinforce the belief by many in the UK that the government is for sale. That has to be wrong.
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