With apologies to those of you who have read this here many times before, the parlous state of the main parties is wholly of their own making. They've gone from mass-membership political parties with powerful and effective local structures to centralised Metropolitan clubs from which the grass roots are excluded, in the process losing many millions of members and their fees. Their common agenda in the centralisation of State power and the emasculation of local decision making saw even the Tories lose over a million members between 1979 and 1997 when they were actually in government. They are no longer recognisable mass-membership parties but national political consumer brands. The combined membership of the big three doesn't even reach 1% of the UK electorate. Their long-term aims, supported by a Mandarinate willing to sacrifice democracy for the sake of what they see as 'stability', is to become the three permanent Parties of State, funded wholly by the taxpayer, and with the ability to exclude all newcomers from Parliament. This monstrous silent coup is taking place under our noses.
Today the Mail reports that Clegg is to seek to implement a donations cap but without increasing State funding. What bollocks. Clegg is facing the next election with a share of the poll that may not even reach double figures, with a probable membership of no more than 50,000 and no money in the bank. Of all three parties, he needs tax funding the most desperately and it's utterly disingenuous to pretend he isn't after greater tax funding whether up-front or through the back door. He's hardly likely to give away the LibDems' advantages of incumbency in the face of a determined challenge for third place from UKIP.
There's really only one answer in reforming UK politics, which means loosening the stranglehold the big three have on our democracy, and that's not to vote for any of them - a 'No votes for the Tax Thieves' election campaign from the grass roots. However, under PPERA this may not be quite as simple as it seems - there are regulations about non-party campaigners which we need to look into. Watch this space.