Thursday 14 December 2006

Whitehall whitewashes our wallets

A short extract from The Times today, re their view of the final party funding review leaked to them yesterday.

£12.5 million limit per party from July 2008 on general election spending (down from £19 million)

Well this is a good start, less pointless messaging and less need for fundraising. Likely to cause a rise in soft money approaches to politics instead. But a reasonable start nonetheless.

Political donations capped at £500,000 from January 2009, falling to £50,000 in 2012

Eh? £50,000. This changes the entire basis of our political fundraising as it has existed throughout the last 300 years. Surely this must be accompanied by making these smaller gifts into charitable donations, some small way of perhaps increasing participation. This measure only reduces the participation of the few rich people who are bothering at the moment....

Union affilation fees and donations subject to same cap; new union members choose whether or not to give to political fund

Wow, a sop to the Tories here. Something very unexpected a likely to get a few feathers ruffled in Queen Street and Downing Street. Alternatively, NuLabour will be pleased at State interference in breaking their bond with the Unions once and for all; nicely ironic?

Year-round regulation of campaign spending in 100 most keenly fought seats

At what cost is this? And year round...we only have elections every 4-5 years? A slippery slope too. Soon there will be monitoring of all activity. This all ends in a US style politicisation of the voting process which led to the 2000 Florida voting debacle.

Big rise in state funding of parties, linked to votes at elections or membership, rising as donation cap falls

AGHHHHH! No. A big rise, please save me from these rapacious scum. How dare they lose our respect and then demand our money. Time to consider an appeal to the courts methinks in a desperate attempt to avert this. Maybe Human Rights legislation can for once of be help here. Anyone know?

Electoral Commission to focus on policing donations, losing its role in voter education; politicians to sit on its board

More money to be wasted? Why do they need to police such insignificant donations. Also to admit politicians in some sort of twisted idea that they have the right morals to avoid all putting their hands in other people's pockets. Truly Sir Hayden shows no mercy to the population of our country.

More public funds for office of leader of Liberal Democrats and smaller parties, based on number of MP's and votes.

More funding at our expense. This list is a long one now, nearing 9 figures now easily and maybe more. Also this institutionalises the status quo even further. Only those in power to be rewarded with our money. This actually will reduce the funding for UKIP et al.

Overall, this is a near disaster for the country if much of this gets followed. Politicians, whose main failing in my eyes is having a lack of real world experience, will be off further into the ether. Never having to speak to real people to raise money, never having to have real world jobs. It stinks, it really does.

P.S. Note that The Times cannot spell affiliation correctly either!!


Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter how much money political parties have, they always plead poverty when it comes to hiring regional press officers like myself. I think we do need to campaign all year round, in a low key fashion, to build up trust and good contacts. I'm working on this now with Julian Sturdy in York Outer.

I agree about capping donations, and there needs to be clarity about whether they are loans or donations and the terms around it.

Anonymous said...

I can't see Labour buying that, since applying the cap to funding from unions will have a far harsher effect on them than will a cap on individual donations have on the Conservatives. After all, you can presumably double the limit on individual donations by having your spouse donate something as well.

Unless, that is, the unions change the basis of their funding arrangements with Labour so they act merely as agents, collecting individual donations on behalf of their members and forwarding them en masse to the Labour Party. I'm sure Labour would prefer that rather than receiving donations from the unions' political funds, since that way the unions couldn't threaten to cut funding off; the worst they could do would be to refuse to give a £50,000 donation on top of all the individual donations they were processing.

I don't particularly care how political parties fund themselves; if someone wants to give money to a party, it's his money do dispose as he wants, surely? Or, if it's an organisation, then if they their members' or shareholders' agreement, then what's the problem? We've already got laws against corrupt practices, so we can prosecute people who pay or receive bribes to get contracts or peerages whatever.

And I don't quite see why people are so worried about the effect major donors may have on party policy when Rupert Murdoch has so great an effect without having to part with a penny piece. Ultimately, the important question is what the electorate make of the policies, I'd have thought.

And anything has got to be better than state funding. I don't want the state to take my money in taxes and decide which parties should get the benefit; I don't mind paying taxes for public services, but only a politician would think his party was one of those.

James Higham said...

State funding is the thin edge of the wedge leading to the banal drone model of political debate.

CityUnslicker said...

Ellee - There is a need for campaigning and local parties should be able to raise these funds with well organised events.

Notsaussure - I agree labour seem to be up in arms, but I think they will find a fix. Namely state funding as this sorts an electoral disadvantage that they seem to generally have versus the Tories.
My arguments to Hayden Phillps were the same too. the system is not broken, hence the current investigation!

James - I agree, state funding will make the jargon and political speak much worse as accountability to the electorate is removed.

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