Peter Cruddas’ claims that a £250,000 donation would give “premier league” access to David Cameron beckoned the PM to publish details of all donors he has wined and dined within his Downing Street flat today. Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband called for an independent inquiry to investigate the “disturbing” claims.
But why do businesspeople make such hefty donations? Can you actually pay your way to get to the PM?
I spoke to John Griffin, founder of the minicab firm Addison Lee who donated £50,000 to the Conservative party last year.
“I think the man [Cruddas] is a fool to have said what he did. It’s unfortunate, he’s an ordinary bloke and he’s let ordinary people down. Anyone who wants access to ministers can write to them, there are no special doors for anyone,” he said.
But why make a donation?
“You make a donation if you think the party’s philosophy is in your best interest. I think the philosophy of the Conservative Party is in the best interest of my business. Politically, I know the Conservative Party will do more for businesses than the Labour Party has done.”
In April last year, Conservative-led Westminster Council made Addison Lee remove 21 of its sponsored cigarette bins placed outside bars and nightclubs, in an effort to “prevent Westminster being overrun with excessive adverts.”
This was soon after Addison Lee donated £50,000 to the Conservative party in 2009-10.
“I’ve always maintained that Westminster is a rogue council. However, making a significant donation to the party didn’t stop the council from removing the bins. Therefore, I don’t think I am any more influential now than before I gave anything.”
So in light of the recent revelations surrounding “cash for access”, will the Conservative Party lose Griffin’s donations in the future?
“I will take an informed decision about that but I am certain that I am not going to blacklist the Conservative Party just because one bloke did something stupid,” he said.