There is no such thing as a free dinner!

imagesWhen senior Tories such as Amber Rudd and Theresa May challenge the Labour Party for believing the nation possesses a money tree to fund their policies, it is disturbing that they are capable of finding one when their own politics demands such a thing. This is why the agreement to the DUP request of an extra £1.5Bn for Northern Ireland as a condition for their agreement to a supply and confidence deal with the Conservative Party is so disturbing. The same is true albeit on a smaller scale when it comes to the announcement that the Sovereign Grant is to rise by £6M to ensure that the Royal family can continue to maintain their role in society. Finally a push to spend £0.3M on a statue of a previous Prime Minister. However perhaps the way these wealthy Tories behave when alone indicates why they say one thing and act differently. This website posting explains how Theresa May is willing to have dinner with one of the Tory Party donors, providing he is willing to stump up £160,000 for the privilege. Her junior colleague Boris Johnson is willing to do the same for a mere £15,000. It seems as though the Tories have no objection to putting their privacy and patronage up for sale in a manner which would be criticised by them if they were civil servants, most of whom are obliged to decline gifts or hospitality worth more than £25 or £50. If Local Government leaders or Chief Constables were to be wined and dined by rich people the outcry would lead to resignations, within hours or even minutes of the news breaking.

I had the privilege of visiting No 10 Downing Street for a reception with several hundred other people in December 2008 when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister. I enjoyed the visit and would be delighted to attend on another occasion. However if my visit depended on me making a donation to a political party, I would not entertain such a thing. Many charities carry out auction of promises but while such events can give people a glimpse into a world they would like to inhabit, the truth is that the connection is fleeting and ends when the event is over. Wealthy party donors have a ongoing relationship with the political party they support and when that party happens to be in Government or even if it is in opposition, its senior members have access to all sorts of levers of power and great influence that raise questions about the motivations of the donors which influence the party.

Personal or organisational donations to political parties should be capped at a level that ensures that wealthy people cannot gain any influence that people on an average income cannot achieve. They should be capped a long way short of £160,000. They should be publicised and they should not buy the time or closed access to the leader of our nation. I find it disturbing that Theresa May is willing to have dinner with a party donor, but was not willing to meet people at Grenfell Tower or take part in any TV debates. I find it disturbing that the Tory Party is willing for its Cabinet members to have dinner with donors lasting several hours but cannot spare 20 minutes to speak to TV and Radio audiences when vital issues of policy are being discussed. Perhaps David Dimbleby should have persuaded the BBC to stump up £160,000 so he could entice Theresa May into a dinner followed by a televised debate.

It is clear to me that any funds raised by members of our Government or opposition should be used to pay of the public debt, not to fund the war chest of their next election campaign.

About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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