The British political Establishment has been rocked by a Sunday Times sting that implicated Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas in a cash-for-access scandal. Reporters posing as would-be donors got Cruddas, considered one of the Tory’s top fund-raisers, on tape claiming that donations of £250,000 (or $400,000) would grant, in soccer parlance, “Premier League” access to Prime Minister David Cameron. “If you’re unhappy about something,” he can be heard saying, “we’ll listen to you and we’ll put it into the policy commission at Number 10 [Downing Street],” referring to the Prime Minister’s residence. He even floated the possibility of private dinners at Number 10.
Since then, Cruddas has resigned, calling his words just “bluster.”
Clearly there is no question of donors being able to influence policy or gain undue access to politicians.
David Cameron, for his part, has pledged to launch an all-out inquiry, while the Conservatives have promised taxpayers that all their donations comply with electoral laws. But the damage has already been done, corroding what little voter trust was left in the country, and it’s particularly embarrassing given Cameron’s 2010’s campaign promise to fight lobbying, which he derided as the “far too cozy relationship between politics, government, business, and money.” He even made a prediction that he’s likely regretting right about now: “It’s the next big scandal waiting to happen.”