Tag Archives: dispatches

A few quick thoughts on last night’s Dispatches

Channel 4’s Dispatches programme last night featured the attempts of one business man to give lots of money to Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The programme has already led to Liberal Democrat peer Paul Strasburger temporarily resigning from the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords pending an investigation from the Electoral Commission. Here are my thoughts on the programme:

Lib Dems should not keep this money – and we aren’t

My instincts on seeing the programme was that the donation that he has procured should be returned because the programme made clear that it didn’t come from the person whose name was on the cheque. That’s not to say that I think there was conclusive evidence of wrong-doing. The Electoral Commission will rule on that and we should let them do their job. What is clear is that the Federal Party had no way of knowing that the donation had come from anyone other than the name on the cheque. I was glad to see Olly Grender confirm on Twitter that we are not keeping the money. It will either go back to the donor or to the Electoral Commission. Guidance is awaited on that point.

Cash for access?

The programme certainly gave an insight into the world of political fund-raising with the businessman concerned Paul Wilmott being invited to events with senior figures from the three parties in fairly short order. This I think is a much bigger deal in the Labour and Conservative parties than it is in the Liberal Democrats. Let’s face it, I’ve had longer conversations with Vince Cable than Paul Wilmott did and I don’t have loads of money. Senior Liberal Democrats are much more accessible than the likes of Cameron and Miliband. Let’s face it, I saw a new member at her first conference in Liverpool last week meet Nick Clegg and chat to him 3 times in the first evening. Our senior figures also spend massive amounts of time supporting local party dinners and campaigning. If you turn up to go canvassing in a key seat, there’s every chance you might be out with one of our senior MPs or Lords. It’s not like the Tories where your position in the room at a dinner depends on how much you have paid for your ticket.

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