Ed Miliband to publish donor meetings

 

Ed Miliband promised today to publish details of his private
meetings with major Labour donors as he renewed his call for an
independent inquiry into allegations that Conservative supporters were
offered access to the Prime Minister in return for cash.

David Cameron revealed yesterday the names of 17 Tory donors who had been invited to dine with him at Downing Street or Chequers since he became Prime Minister in 2010.

The Prime Minister gave in to intense pressure to expose the meetings with wealthy benefactors - between them thought to have given the Tories £23 million since 2005 - after party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas was caught promising meetings and influence in return for cash.

Mr Miliband is now expected to release details of private meetings with major donors since he became Labour leader by the end of this week.

"I'm very happy to publish and to be very transparent about what we do and who we meet," said Mr Miliband.

"But what I do say is let's be realistic about what happened here. We've got an issue about the way in which government is being conducted, the way in which Downing Street is being used.

"That is, I think, what concerned people: Downing Street, Chequers, the way that those Government buildings have been used.

"That is why we need not just proper transparency from the Government, but we also need a proper inquiry, an independent inquiry into what happened."

Mr Cameron's promise of a party inquiry into the Cruddas affair, chaired by Tory peer Lord Gold, was denounced by Labour yesterday as a "whitewash".

They have called for an independent investigation by the Prime Minister's official adviser on ministerial interests, Sir Alex Allan.

Former justice secretary Jack Straw called on the Electoral Commission today to investigate suggestions that foreign donations could be channelled through a third party to escape rules outlawing overseas cash.

Donations are only legal if they come from individuals on the electoral roll or from companies registered in the UK.

Sarah Southern, a former Conservative Party staffer now working as a lobbyist, was recorded by the Sunday Times saying: "The party will look at the criteria of which... in that document you'll have seen the kind of the legal bullet points and as long as the money is coming from a legal UK-registered donor, or a legal registered UK company that is operating, then they'll normally be happy."

In a letter to the watchdog, Mr Straw wrote: "According to reports, undercover reporters told Mr Cruddas and Ms Southern that they were interested in making a donation on behalf of Middle Eastern donors.

"The reporters were allegedly told that money from foreign investors could be channelled through a company established by the reporters as they were on the UK electoral roll."

He added: "These reports raise serious questions as to how the Conservative Party is soliciting donations, potentially in contravention of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000."

As opinion polls suggested the Conservatives were losing support over the issue, senior party figures tried to turn attention instead to the wider question of political funding.

Cross-party talks are expected to be reopened this week in a fresh attempt to end the deadlock which has stymied attempts to reduce the influence of big donors for many years.

Mr Cruddas was caught on film telling undercover reporters that "premier league" gifts could secure meetings with ministers and influence policy.

He quit his post on Saturday, hours after the Sunday Times revealed his comments.

Mr Miliband will have been further buoyed by an opinion poll which showed the opposition racing into a double-digit lead amid the fallout from the controversy and last week's unpopular Budget.

Two-thirds of voters agreed that tax changes announced by Chancellor George Osborne last week show his was "the party of the rich", according to the ComRes research for The Independent.

The poll puts Labour up three points over the last month on 43%, with the Tories down four at 33% and the Liberal Democrats down two on 11%. Others gained three points to 13%.

But among the third of voters who were polled after the Cruddas story emerged, the lead had widened to 17%. Other polls also showed a growing Labour lead.

All three main parties have named two members to handle negotiations over party funding, which the minister in charge - Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - said he hoped would start this week.

Mr Cameron said there was an "urgent need" for wider reform and he would back a £50,000 cap on individual donations - but only if Labour agreed to apply it to trade unions.

That is the stalemate which has seen a succession of attempted shake-ups fail but options are also limited as parties are agreed there is no appetite for increased state funding.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Extras
indybest
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Circles South East Youth Service: Youth Services Volunteer

this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £30,000+

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading privately owned sp...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is require...

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Supervisor

£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn