Which today sounds like something from a black farce.
Or Yes Minister, the BBC series for which Haines was a special adviser.
Because Cameron might have included his wife’s stylist and half a dozen of his closest friends and allies, but let’s hope even he would have baulked at a suspected Soviet spy, Rudy Sternberg, a manufacturing boss who became Lord Plurenden.
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So after ex-Army businessman Desmond Brayley lent Wilson his penthouse apartment above Le Caprice restaurant in Mayfair when Wilson was broke and homeless in 1970 (and threw in a box of cigars the size of torpedoes), he was later thanked with a peerage.
This despite the fact that, rumour had it, he could barely read or write.‘Brayley was pretty thick but he had a genius for making money,’ says Haines, who made urgent but ineffective efforts to block his gong.
He turned up one day and gave Harold a package and his driver told me it had £8,000 in notes in it.’But according to Haines, there was and still is no alternative to the donor/gong relationship.
‘I don’t believe there is a PM who hasn’t done a grubby deal with a donor.
The current system doesn’t allow it.’Some, though, like Blair, he says, were ‘too ready to deal with people like [the motor-racing tycoon] Bernie Ecclestone’.