David Cameron has been addressing the CBI Conference and has launched a stinging attack on Labour:
"What we have learnt over the last few days is that when it comes to regulation and legislation there’s one law for government – and another one for everyone else. These people, they set up these quangos, they pass these laws, they introduce these regulations, they insist on this bit of scrutiny, that bit of compliance – and whether it’s their own government debts or their own party machine they just don’t obey it. There is a time in the life of every government when they’ve been in power for so long that complacency tips over into arrogance, and arrogance even becomes indifference to the law. They’ve passed that point and change, real change, is needed now in Britain."
On this morning’s Today programme Francis Maude accused Labour of "institutionalised cheating":
"It frankly defies credibility that Peter Watt didn’t know that this most basic of compliance rules was in place… If that is the case, we wonder what else has been going on there… This kind of looks like institutionalised cheating in the system and adds to this general sense there now is of this whiff of decay and, frankly, greed. These are rules that Labour themselves brought in, with our support, and we think it is really important they should be followed. It does look like institutionalised evasion of the rules going on here.
Large sums of money don’t come spontaneously. You don’t get a random cheque through the post. They come about through conversations and discussions, persuading people that supporting your party is a good thing to do. These are not obscure technical breaches. This is the most basic thing. The whole point of the Act was to require disclosure and transparency over substantial amounts, so people would know who was paying it. If the money was being disguised and laundered in this way, you do just wonder what lay behind it."
On the blogs: Guido is at his best at the moment. If you want to follow the twists’n’turns of Labour’s donations crisis I suggest you bookmark order-order.com. Ben Brogan wonders if Harriet Harman could be in trouble for accepting £5,000 from Abrahams for her Deputy Leadership bid. Nick Robinson notes that Brown did not give her backing at his press conference. In a must-read post, Danny Finkelstein finds Labour’s explanations "ridiculous". And Dan Hannan worries that taxpayer-funding of political parties will be presented as the answer to the problem of big private donations.