Dave, his crony pal and cash for no questions
Tory Party chairman Lord Feldman was one of the key figures in the ‘cash for access’ scandal which erupted after Tory party treasurer Peter Cruddas was caught offering a private dinner with David Cameron to undercover reporters who posed as wealthy party donors.
A buddy of David Cameron since they were at Oxford University together, it was Feldman who vetted Cruddas for the job — as well as approving the controversial appointment as treasurer of David Rowland. The former tax exile property tycoon, who had previously been branded ‘a shady financier’ in Parliament, was forced to quit the job after disclosures about his high living and aggressive business tactics.
Lord Andrew Feldman received £11,850 worth of expenses by the end of last October, when the most recent official figures were published
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Little known outside of Westminster, Feldman’s appointment as Tory chairman was widely criticised by backbench MPs. Lacking political experience, his CV included helping Cameron organise a college ball at Oxford and a subsequent career as a management consultant and latterly as a commercial barrister at one of the country’s top legal chambers.
Cocking a snook at his critics, Cameron made yoga-loving Feldman a peer of the realm — hence his nickname, the Crony Chairman.
So how seriously does Lord Feldman of Elstree take his duties in the upper chamber? The answer, it seems, is not very.
I’ve looked at his parliamentary record. He has attended the chamber on 48 days in the 15 months since his appointment and has spoken there once. He has yet to table a written question or ask any verbal ones. He has taken part in only 50 per cent of the votes.
Even so, the multi-millionaire does claim his £300 daily Lords expenses to which he’s entitled — even though Parliament is only a five-minute walk from Tory HQ. He had received £11,850 worth of expenses by the end of last October, when the most recent official figures were published.
So much for Feldman’s public service ethos.
Count Ken out: Cartoon by Gary for the Daily Mail
Count Ken out!
A typically rumbustious response from the beer-swilling Justice Secretary Ken Clarke when asked about the ‘cash- for-access’ dinners scandal.
‘Well, I don’t think anybody can afford to buy dinner for me. So I don’t think I am personally involved.’ Having bought him lunch more than once, I can testify he has a point!
Cameron’s gold standards
There was outrage from the then opposition Tory benches when Stephen Byers was caught with three other Labour ministers in an undercover sting by Channel Four, boasting that they had changed government policy and secured preferential access to ministers for private companies.
Leading the charge with allegations of ‘sleaze’ was Opposition leader David Cameron who demanded an ‘independent’ inquiry. He said the matter ‘goes to the heart of the integrity of the Government’.
Now he’s PM, Cameron has backtracked on such firm principles. Following the ‘cash-for-access’ row involving Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas, Cameron has asked a Tory, Lord Gold, to conduct an inquiry.
Count Ken out: Cartoon by Gary for the Daily Mail
Disgraced Labour MP Eric Joyce, who was convicted of a drunken brawl in a House of Commons bar, Tweeted about last week’s rare sighting of the Moon and Venus very close together in the night sky.
Dreamily he said: ‘The Moon and Venus. Out of your window or close-by. Too beautiful and amazing for a picture.’ I hope Eric’s not still drinking!
The cerebral Tory backbencher John Redwood has jumped to the defence of Chancellor George ‘Pasty Tax’ Osborne, who was ridiculed for saying he couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten a Greggs pasty.
Redwood said he’s concerned about traditional ‘motherhood and apple pie’ values, but that ‘I will never be a mother and have not bought a shop apple pie for months’.
After all their huff and puff about the Government’s decision to cut the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p, you would have assumed that Labour MPs would have thronged the Commons to vote against the move.
Not a bit of it. Even though Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said Labour ‘will vote against the 50p change’, every Labour MP abstained in the vote apart from two, veterans Dennis Skinner and Paul Flynn, who voted against.