The Taxpayers' Alliance have kicked off a predictable furore with news that 29,000 politicians are costing taxpayers £500m a year. The Mail heads its report 'A plague of politicians' and goes on to conclude we'd all be much better off with fewer elected representatives.
My contempt for what Peter Oborne has called the political class is familiar to readers; 'professional' politicians and their dags in all their forms are anathema to me. State funding of political parties is also a great evil that stifles democracy, and I loathe any suggestion of its extension. But let's not confuse these 'bads' with the 'good' of having elected representatives. The UK has fewer than almost everywhere else, and in place of democratic representation we have 60,000 unelected local quangocrats and 30,000 unelected national quangocrats, all of whom cost us a great deal more than our elected representatives. We can't have it both ways.
The TA's figure is broadly in line with Michael Pinto-Duschinsky's finding that State funding for the parties already amounts to some £1.75bn over a four-year electoral cycle. This is the real scandal.
We need more, not fewer, elected representatives. And we need to strangle the haemorrhage of State funds to the parties. The two are not mutually exclusive. We must reverse the venal and corrupt 'snout' culture engendered by the loathsome policical class. We must purge our political institutions of the thieves and robbers. We must trash the quangos. And above all, we must return power to municipalities, communities and parishes.