I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the future centre of gravity of British politics will be determined by the way in which the recommendations of Sir Christopher Kelly's committee into party finance are implemented. Peter Oborne reminds us in the Telegraph this morning that UKIP could be set to become the third force in Parliament, replacing the Lib Dems. Oho. Not if Kelly repeats Hayden Phillips' deeply corrupt and undemocratic funding recommendation they won't.
Phillips recommended that parties get £3 each year for each vote cast for them in the last election. This favours incumbency, favours the existing party triumverate, locks in stasis (mandarins would call this 'stability') and mitigates against any new parties gaining recognition. The Lib Dems would be funded on the basis of their 2010 high, not their 2011 lows, and would go into the 2015 election with a wholly corrupt advantage, and keep the balance of the political centre on the left. Never mind that forty-five millions of electors are given no say in whether they want tax funds to go to the parties - making the move also a deeply and dangerously anti-democratic one.
Kelly will no doubt conveniently ignore, as did Phillips, the proposal made by Helena Kennedy's 'Power' Inquiry some years ago now. This was for a separate funding poll slip to be taken into the voting booth; electors could select any party to receive £3 a year of tax funds, not necessarily the one they were voting for, or could choose none at all. Thus voters who object to tax funds being given to parties could veto funding made in their name, and electors could make an intelligent choice about whether to fund UKIP whilst voting Conservative, or to fund the LibDems whilst voting Labour. It was a fair and equitable proposal, and therefore deeply unwelcome to the mandarins and to the State political class.
But make no mistake. The Kelly report will be the most important thing that happens in British politics this year.