Dining with David Cameron…..
So, apparently, the going rate for attending a dinner with the Prime Minister and Chancellor nowadays is £200,000 – £250,000, that is at least the price Peter Cruddas offered the Sunday Times. Cruddas has predictably resigned and equally predictably there will be alot of cat-calling and navel gazing amoung the political class about corruption of this kind. It will, of course, damage the Conservative Party but I tend to think this kind of thing tends to end up just damaging politics as a whole as much as the specific Party concerned. People, not entirely without justification, tend to shrug their shoulders and say ‘well, your all as bad as each other’. Actually, I tend to think the cross-Party cat-calling tends to serve to reinforce this impression in this instance. So much mud is slung that its impossible for everybody to not get dirty.
This also tends to make a reasoned debate neigh-on impossible. Solutions like donation caps are often muted but never actioned because, if we are honest, nobody really wants them. In any case, they are not actually the cure-all solution they claim to be; the simple truth is that representative politics costs an absolute fortune to actually function. If you stop and think about it, to become an MP, you need to make some form of contact (or at least attempt to) with tens of thousands of people. Even in the new media age that in itself is pricey. Political Parties, of course, have to attempt to contact 10s of millions during an election campaign which is more expensive by degrees still. You therefore need to look at measures which reduce the cost alongside donation caps or else they will become counterproductive.
If people think donation caps alone work then they should visit America which actually enforces them and tell me if money has a less prominent and corrosive role in their political process. I rather suspect it does not. This is not to say nothing should be done, something has to be done because these instances of corruption are part of the slow death of the democratic process in this country. However, it is an appeal to be mindful of what we actually do and that we don’t advocate solutions which essentially being cosmetic in nature. Doing something for the sake of being seen to be doing something – an art politicians seem to excel at.
What we need is an open dialogue, across Party lines, about how we reform our politics. This involves internal democratisation of all our political parties, radical changes at Westminster, etc, etc all need to be on the table. Although this scandal immediately affects the Conservative Party and David Cameron personally, we would do well to remember that it is really a symptom of how deep the rot has set in within our political process