David Cameron has described being found out that the Tory party offers access to the prime minister and chancellor for up to £250,000 as “completely unacceptable” as he announced an internal party inquiry into how the press managed to expose it.
After footage emerged of the Tory party treasurer Peter Cruddas making the offer to undercover reporters, Cameron moved quickly, instructing the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, and the Conservative party co-chairman Andrew Feldman to urgently deal with the public’s anger over the scandal mainly by finding some other news to bury it.
Being found out was completely unacceptable. This is not the way that we want people to know how we raise money in the Conservative party. It’s quite right that Peter Cruddas resigned for being caught. I’ll make sure there is a proper party inquiry to make sure being found out never happens again.
In an interview with BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, described Cruddas’s failure to get away with it as “utterly disgraceful”.
Alexander said Cruddas being busted strengthened the case for changing the system so the public will never be able to find out ever again who is paying who for what:
What these headlines show today is the absolute necessity of having reforms to our party funding system so that big donors are able to influence government policy without it being on the front pages of the newspapers again.
In his resignation statement on Saturday night, Cruddas, the senior Conservative official responsible for collecting donations for the party, said he deeply regretted being caught offering access for large amounts of money:
Clearly I should never have allowed myself to be filmed offering party donors the possibility of influencing government policy or gaining undue access to the Prime Minister. I take full responsibility for not getting away with it and that is why I have regrettably decided to resign with immediate effect.
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said the announcement of an internal inquiry did not to far enough, calling for “a full independent investigation to ensure that the press is not able to film politicians taking backhanders again”. He said the investigation should cover “what happened, who knew what happened and how investigate reporters were allowed to do their job so well.”
In a letter to the prime minister, the shadow minister Michael Dugher demanded that the prime minister disclose how such a scandal was allowed to happen so his party could avoid being found out for taking backhanders too.
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