Here we go again. 1922 and 2006 are both years that have seen Westminster gripped by ‘cash for honours’ scandals. There are more, but I don’t think I need to list them for everyone to understand what I mean. Now in 2021, the carousel has kept turning and yet again we have another one. The difference is that in 2021, we’re living in a world where the press isn’t particularly bothered. They’ve normalised the lies of the current Prime Minister, the RT dishonourable alpaca. They’ve normalised breaches of convention, of precedent and the rule of law. We live in an age where if you have a 2 letter suffix after your name, you are above the law and the rules.
Cue Peter Cruddas! Or should I say Lord Crud-ass! In 2012 he quit as the party’s co-treasurer after he offered undercover reporters from The Sunday Times access to David Cameron, the prime minister, in exchange for a £250,000 donation (‘cash for access’).
The Court of Appeal criticised Cruddas’s conduct and found in favour of the newspaper on allegations that he had offered access to Cameron and other senior politicians. In a civilised world, you’d think that would be the end of it, but no. Move forward 9 years and now we can see that Electoral Commission records show that the conservatives received their largest donation in the first three months of 2021 from Cruddas, the sum of half a million pounds (£500,000).
The problem is that the £500,000 donation came only 3 days after he took a seat in the House of Lords. This would be bad enough, but the House of Lords Appointments Commission specifically advised against Mr Cruddas receiving a peerage. Boris Johnson overruled them anyway and three days later Lord Cruddas gives the Tories a £500,000 “donation”.
If this were 2006, the press and politicians would go absolutely insane about it. The problem is that this is not 2006, so I highly suspect the furore will die down in a week, just in time for Boris Johnson to announce that he’s adopted a donkey from the middle east with a broken leg or that he’s decided to build a bridge over the Thames – oh no! Wait! He’s already done that. Either way, mark my words, the Tory press team are busy making something shiny to distract the electorate. I’m sure the BBC will be more than happy to provide coverage of said shiny object!
The point I am trying to make is that this is the man who was once labelled the richest banker in London. A man who has already been caught buying access to elected politicians – and now he’s sitting in the Lords where he can scrutinise and influence legislation.