Watching the Channel 4 investigation “How to buy a meeting with a Minister”. Shocking just isn’t a good enough word for the disgusting reality that all it takes is money – and the more money you are prepared to pay the higher up the filthy Ministerial ladder you climb. Heck, enough money and it seems you can buy yourself a peerage according to yesterday’s newspapers.
The investigator gets to meet Vince Cable just by promising to donate money – really one thinks he should have been paying the investigator for the privilege!
The “Tory Donor Club” asks only £50,000 to meet the Prime Minister – a bargain. £25,000 to have a private lunch with Health Minister and a Russian businessman (donator of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party and individual MPs) at the height of the the A and E crisis when he should have been at his desk sorting it out.the
Hunt gave his thoughts on the NHS at lunch, and deferred in a friendly way to the Russian businessman on several points.
The Treasurer of the Donor Club says that £50,000 gets you direct access to many Ministers. The Russian businessman went to the £15,000 a table Tory fundraising ball – where the more you donated the higher the level of Minister who would be on your table.
The Prime Minister had a hedge fund manager as a guest on his table, a big donor. Mobile phone companies avoiding tax also had places at tables with Ministers.
Our dear MP Hugo Swire was there auctioning in fine style with several off-colour jokes about having been able to buy Lamborghinis on expenses in the good old days as detailed here:
No-one was told who was the highest bidder for each item (was the cost deducted from attendees expenses one wonders?)
Labour: Fund raising gala (free admission because he had said he would probably donate) – table with 2 shadow ministers, though they did say donations over £7,500 would have his name published. Meets a shadow minister (still no payment for access requested) but the feeling that the meeting happened more quickly because he was a potential donor.
Final part: Tories and Labour both said undercover reporter donations over £7,500 would be publicised.
However, Lib Dem peer Lord Strasburger meets him after the lunch with Vince Cable and discusses how his donations can be concealed: via a business or his wife or later he asks if another family member can donate on his behalf: his stepfather i.e. a group of people donating individually each under that figure . The investigator then gets to meet Nick Clegg who has already been briefed about him. The peer explains the donors wish to be anonymous – Clegg appears to suggest donations in two different financial years.
He goes to another Lib Dem Party bunfight with a cheque for £10,000 in his stepfather’s name, telling the peer it is really from him as a first instalment. The peer accepts the money and shares a table with him at dinner and later thanks him for the donation.
On being told about the donation, the peer resigned from fundraising and reported himself to Parliament and it also went to the Electoral Commission.
£15,000 bought the investigator meetings with four Cabinet ministers and two Shadow Cabinet ministers.