Well, it was forecast and it had to happen after the Clegg Effect – the Tories say they are not getting desperate, but their media mouthpieces are.
Today’s headline in The Daily Telegraph -
Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem donors and payments into his private account
The headline typeface is only a little smaller than the masthead, the kind of thing normally reserved for the death of the Queen or the outbreak of World War III.
In the words of the old song, Nick’s fans, old and new, are singing Say It isn’t So! and Nick has duly responded to attempt to reassure them and minimise the damage. But there may be Blue Skies, then again it could be Here Comes That Rainy Day.
Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the committee of standards in public life has weighed with a rather odd comment - “Given that he’s been very holier than thou about these things, it would seem he has some explaining to do to the his party and the electorate …”
That sounds a bit like guilty until proven innocent, Sir Alistair, but surely you couldn’t have meant that? By “holier than thou” do you mean that he has pointed out the appalling scale of the corruption and greed - criminal in several cases - in the Labour Party and the Tory Party, beside which the LibDems minor antics (leaving aside the big fraudster donation) have been relatively minor?
I note that one of the alleged donors is Ian Wright of Diageo – the giant drinks company, with major facilities in Scotland – who may just be an individual LibDem supporter.
Now individuals and companies don’t donate to political parties unless they expect something in return. At the most altruistic level, they want to support a party whose social policies they agree with. At the normal commercial level – if the donations came, not from the individuals as a personal contribution, but from their company – then a commercial tradeoff, one way or another, is expected – access to government, influence over relevant policy, or just general rapport with the party’s business policies.
It is clear from the newly-minted LibDem manifesto that the booze companies have failed to stop Nick Clegg and his party from supporting minimum pricing for alcohol, or rather, they have failed to do it in England, but Scotland, as Tavish Scott tried to explain last night, is a different case. Now if only there were a broadsheet or a tabloid to lay out their biggest headline typeface to examine donations to Labour and the Tories by the alcohol companies and the supermarkets, especially the Scottish dimension of any such donations.
Nick must be relieved that tonight’s debate is about foreign policy, not domestic matters. But will Brown and Cameron be able to resist such a tempting low blow?
© Copyright Peter Curran 2010