A soupcon of sleaze in the soup: Leading article

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The Independent Online
Dinner with the PM - pounds 100,000; an evening with Ken Clarke or Gillian Shephard - around pounds 10,000. Presumably other Tory MPs can be rented out, too, if the price is right. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this kind of political fund-raising - until it starts to corrupt the relationship between the party and its donors.

What favours can businessmen expect for their cash? "Entertainment," says one contact dinner organiser. What he means is, that's how you can describe the night out in the company accounts; as a description of a couple of hours with the PM it seems, at best, debatable. "Political intelligence," says another. That means the chance for some Major name- dropping - to be able to boast to contacts of your proximity to power.

As it happens, there is a better description. The word is "sleaze".