Channel 4 News interview with the Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives. An important news story for the democracy topic.
The party’s deputy chairman said the Tories would enter into negotiations with Labour and the Liberal Democrats after co-treasurer Peter Cruddas was caught offering access to David Cameron and Downing Street’s policy team in exchange for a £250,000 donation.
The coalition agreement, drawn up before the election, vowed to pursue an agreement to “remove big money from politics”.
But cross-party talks aimed at limiting donations from individuals and the trade unions have broken down in the past.
We are ready to reopen talks with both the other parties to see if there can be an agreement.Michael Fallon
Mr Fallon told Channel 4 News: “We are ready to reopen talks with both the other parties to see if there can be an agreement.”
Pressed on the likely timescale, he said: “I think we’ll see. First we want to learn from what has happened.”
Lib Dem Danny Alexander said there would be a “short sharp series of discussions over the next few weeks” among leading party members with a view to getting talks started up again.
Mr Fallon also refused to be drawn on whether the party would refer the cash-for-access scandal– unearthed in a sting by undercover journalists from the Sunday Times – to the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life.
He said: “We’re going to have a look ourselves first. We need to see if there is anything there that actually needs to be referred.”
He echoed David Cameron in condemning Mr Cruddas’s behaviour, saying: “What Peter Cruddas did was absolutely unacceptable. He suggested that there could be some kind of special access, and that people who give a large sum of money might be able to dictate policy.
“That is absolutely not the case and he was wrong to boast about it.”
He added: “If you are a donor to the party, and a big donor to the party, of course you are going to be able to meet members of parliament and ministers, and possibly the Prime Minister at functions, that is part of the interaction.
“But what you won’t get is any particular favours as a result. We tell all our donors that this doesn’t buy you influence over policy.”
He said it would be “incredibly hard” to publish a list of which donors offered views on what policies.