Cash for Access

The Guardian is getting into Labour sleaze, following on from yesterday Matthew Tempest and Oliver King have cottoned on to the cash-for-access wheeze as practised by New Labour. Fancy meeting the man likely to be the next chancellor? Alistair Darling can do breakfast for £3,500 (conveniently below the £5,000 Electoral Commission reporting level). You’ll have a good opportunity to “network”, nudge nudge, wink wink.

This practise was pioneered by a think-tank close to the government, the IPPR was a master of this wheeze. Never as crude as “give us a donation and we will introduce you to the minister”, but effectively that was the implicit deal offered.

The invites didn’t exactly read “We’re close to New Labour and we have the minster who can make or break you with this upcoming legislation speaking at a small seminar. How many thousands can we milk out of you for a chance to button-hole him ahead of the second reading of that bill…” but that was the gist.

IPPR boasts of its “strong networks in government” and the flow of wonks to the civil service as special advisers (who later become well paid lobbyists) keeps the corporate cheques coming. IPPR has “partners” not clients. The IPPR pitch is careful, but clear: “partners have regular contact with our research directors to discuss the progress of projects relevant to their sector. Partners have the opportunity to get on the inside track of policy development. You bet they do.

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