"Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason"
Sir John Harrington (1561-1612)
There is more to the Osborne affair than meets the eye.
The alleged facts are simple, in the words of Nat Rothschild's letter to The Times,
"George Osborne, who also accepted my hospitality, found the opportunity of meeting with Mr. Deripaska so good that he invited the Conservatives' fund raiser Andrew Feldman, who was staying nearby, to accompany him on to Mr. Deripaska's boat to solicit a donation. Since Mr. Deripaska is not a British citizen, it was subsequently suggested by Mr. Feldman during a conversation at which Mr. Deripaska was not present, that the donation was “channeled” through one of Mr. Deripaska's British companies. In a subsequent phone call in mid-September about one month later, Mr. Feldman again raised the issue of the donation with me. Mr. Deripaska decided that he did not wish to make any donation."
In other words, George Osborne was seeking an illegal donation from a Russian citizen and was prepared to find ways to bend the rules to ensure that the donation could be made.
Those are specific allegations.
However, despite the appalling error of judgement that this solicitation implies, the scandal is not just about Osborne. It is also about the huge network of business, personal and financial contacts between senior members of the Conservative Party and Russian business.
At least 20 Conservative Peers and MPs, including several former cabinet ministers, have take board positions with companies that do business entirely or largely with the Russian Federation. Many of these businesses have close links with the Kremlin or with Oligarchs known to be close to the Kremlin, including Oleg Deripaska himself.
These links have been highlighted by the fact that the Conservative Party was formally allied to Putin's United Russia in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Indeed The Conservatives were prepared to support the election of a Russian as the representative of this human rights body- despite the disgusting human rights record of the Russian Federation, which long predates their foray into Georgia and includes the butchery of the Chechens by the corrupt and ill-disciplined Russian army. Russia is ranked as Not Free by Freedom House, but the Conservatives were prepared to treat with the Russian tyrannical regime instead of working with Christian Democratic Parties from our NATO allies.
Lord Rothschild, Nat Rothschild's father, knows Russia very well. He was a close business partner of Mikhail Khordokvsky, the founder of Yukos, who defied Vladimir Putin and ended up in jail- where he remains. Stephen Curtis, the head of Bank Menatep which was associated with Yukos died in a mysterious air crash at Bournemouth. The Rothschild family has seen at close hand the nature of the Silovik state- and is widely believed to regard the close links between the Kremlin and the Conservatives with concern.
The policy of the Kremlin has been to cultivate close relationships with senior European political figures. The most obvious is the former German leader, Gerhard Schroder whose controversial chairmanship of the Nordstrean Gas pipeline is widely regarded, especially here in Estonia, as corrupt. It seems quite logical that a wider policy of suborning Western politicians with financial inducements would include British politicians too.
The rebuttal that George Osborne has made points out that no donation was made. So what? That was not the allegation. Since George Osborne is not prepared to see Nat Rothschild in court, he should now resign.
However, far more important is that David Cameron must now clean the stables. He must start to purge all possible corrupt Russian influence from his party. Unless he does, then l'affaire Osborne may well be just the beginning of the scandal.
Russian money is involved in British politics for sinister ends. Those who choose to accept it are guilty of a lot more than a simple error of judgement.