Could dinner with Peter and Martin pay for the A5?
As someone who is ever on the lookout for ways in which we can offset national debt and capitalise on potential sources of income for the public exchequer, I am nowhere near as distressed as Tory party spin doctors, Ed Miliband and assorted media commentators at the revelation that Conservative fund-raiser Peter Cruddas has been nabbed offering access to the PM for £250,000 a throw.
All I can see when I read this story is - £250,000!
Is this just me or has it occurred to anyone else that with a return like that on just one dinner chez Dave the country could be sitting on a gold mine.
Consider, for example, Rihanna.
When the likes of RiRi make several hundred grand for a short birthday party gig for the likes of Sir Philip Green, the Press inevitably (and understandably) goes wild. And no wonder. All that cash for a few paltry songs!
But in fairness the Rihannas actually have to sing for their supper.
All Dave (and Sam) has to do - allegedly - is sit through supper, provide some small talk, pass the ketchup and (if the boastful Mr Cruddas is to be believed) give guest/s the distinct impression that anything they might bring to the table might well influence policy.
And for that, we are led to understand, the Tory party can rake in somewhere in the region of a quarter of a mill a touch.
Never mind the Tory coffers, I say - why not roll this scheme out on a national scale and bring in some serious money for the public purse?
Ok. It may be the political equivalent of fracking. Widely regarded as a bad thing - even if extremely lucrative.
But before we start talking high-minded stuff about political morals and dismiss the idea of renting out Sam and Dave on a regular basis let's have a quick run through the figures.
If he was to do one of these a week (and expenses would be minimal; Sam could pick up a couple of those tenner-for-two meal deals at Marksies) we're talking in the region of £1m a month. Or £10m per annum. (I'm allowing for holidays.)
At that rate, before you know it George Osborne would be able to take his hand out of the grannies' purses and ditch that new tax on sausage rolls.
Two spag bol nights a week at Number 10 and we would be up to £20m per annum. That's even more than Wayne Rooney is reputed to earn.
Or Stephen Nolan ... .
As Rebekah Brooks would say, never look a gift horse in the mouth.
And why stop at Number 10? Dinner with Cleggy is surely worth a few thousand, too. Tea with Theresa May? Chow with the Chancellor?
Get them all at it and we could have the country back on its feet by autumn.
This could be quantitative easing with side salad.
And if it works at Westminster we might even be able to bring the scheme to Stormont.
Come Dine With OFMDFM. Before you know it we might even be able to afford the A5 ourselves.
True, overall there remain those tricky ethical questions re the "influencing policy" issue. (Mr Cruddas boasted to undercover reporters that for the right money this may be possible.)
In practical terms, though, is it really going to make any difference? Policy dictated by a bunch of rich eejits happy to throw large sums of money around them? This differs in what way from government as we already know it?