What could be more lovely? A drinks reception on the River Thames on 3rd September in private rooms that are part of the House of Commons. The rooms and many of the costs of the events are met by the taxpayer on the assumption that these visits are in the national interest. One of these events on 3rd September will be hosted by Sir Gerald Howarth, MP for Aldershot so it is an invitation to meet both a Knight and an MP in the historic Palace of Westminster with an opportunity to rub shoulders with existing MPs and Lords. The place where Churchill, Attlee, Wilson and Thatcher walked, and where the public cannot go unless they are invited by a serving MP or a Lord. I received an invitation yesterday and perhaps being a bit cynical looked for a catch. At the bottom of the email is a clear invitation to help fund Conservative Way Forward. The text is as follows
“It’s up to this grassroots movement to finish what we started. To build a stronger, healthier economy for Great Britain.
Will you be one of CWF’s generous donors? Whatever you can afford — even if it’s just £2 a month — will make a huge difference to the future of our country.
It takes just two minutes. Thank you.
Perhaps some readers would feel it to be churlish to consider attending this lovely reception without making a small donation, after all the amount suggested is very modest.
If Sir Gerald had instead sent his invitation for a reception at Ash Community Centre in his constituency I am certain that far less people would be inclined to attend and to make a donation to this political cause. However the Terrace on the House of Commons is a space that already belongs to the nation. It is part of the House of Commons and it does not belong to Conservative Party or indeed any other Political Party. In 2007 David Cameron apologised unreservedly for using his taxpayer funded office to raise funds for the Conservative Party. The language in this email may not be identical to David Cameron’s invitations to join the Leaders Club, but the principle is no different and this is not how our nation is supposed to do Politics. Perhaps if we make a big enough fuss, Sir Gerald might apologise unreservedly but no doubt Conservative Way Forward will continue to fund raise on our Terrace and British Democracy will continue to look and feel like a night spent in the gutter!