Monday, March 26, 2012

The good old days - sleaze is back (did it ever go away?)

So the former Treasurer of the Conservative Party was 'inexperienced' and 'saying silly things' when he suggested that a cool quarter of a million donation would get you a private dinner with SamCam and Dave, was he?

Here's an interesting quote
"When you see the Prime Minister - you're seeing David Cameron, you're not seeing the Prime Minister, you're seeing David Cameron..."
That's quite an important distinction - the Ministerial Code was reissued in 2010 with some changes after the election. Here's the original version on recording hospitality:
7.24: If a Minister accepts hospitality, then the Minister should notify the Permanent Secretary and it should be declared in the Register of Members' or Peers' Interests.... 
And here's the revised version, with key changes imposed by this government highlighted.

7.24 If a Minister accepts hospitality in a Ministerial capacity, the Minister should notify their Permanent Secretary. Departments will publish, at least quarterly, details of hospitality received by Ministers in a Ministerial capacity. Hospitality accepted as an MP or Peer should be declared in the Register of Members' or Lords’ Interests respectively.
Something similar seems to apply in the case of ministerial meetings. Eric Pickles has refused to give details of a dinner at the Savoy, which was paid for by the lobbyist Bell Pottinger, citing it as a personal event, not one that he attended as a minister.

This fine distinction seems to be key to whether meetings are registrable or not - a distinction of which Peter Cruddas seemed to be fully aware, raising doubts over exactly how inexperienced the joint treasurer of one of our major political parties actually is. The key question has to be - who else has had a 'private' dinner with Sam and Dave in the No10 flat?

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