Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Good sense from George Monbiot

I bet you never expected to see that post title here, but the recommendation made by Monbiot in his Guardian column on party funding is spot-on. The party funding proposals made by the Kelly Committee, like those of  Hayden Phillips before, would lead to even greater political corruption, jobbery and peculation than now, and are intended solely to establish the incumbent three big parties as Parties of State and fossilize British politics. Kelly is utterly unacceptable.

Yes, the Union block levy needs to be ended, as does the buying-up of the parties by wealthy corporations, so there must be a cap on donations. Yes, we must end the metropolitan centralism of the parties that pollutes and infects our democratic health - and yes, the way to do this is by legislating to make all the parties dependent on their membership subscriptions alone for income. 

Matching membership fees pound for pound from tax, as Monbiot proposes, will be a step too far for many readers, but I think as a temporary measure to effect a sea change in party funding, to return democracy to the grass roots and to break the stranglehold of Whitehall on Westminster, it's a good move. 


Anonymous said...

"but I think as a temporary measure"

How to make sure it is a temporary measure, not expanded and extended as time goes by?

Yes, the party membership should foot the bill. That should galvanize the lazy ****ers in the party organisations.

G. Tingey said...

The "union block levy" is a chimaera, I'm afriad ...
I really annoyed "Management" when I was a shop steward (yes!) by significantly increasing local union membership.
How did I do this?
By carefully putting the "political opt-out" form/card in front of prospective members FIRST, before the actual union application.

That sort of thing really confuses die-hards of both political wings, I can tell you!

Anonymous said...

Yes. Unlike company donations, the union political levy was voted for by those contributing. The Thatcher government made it necessary for the unions to ask each member whether they wanted to continue. They voted yes. So let's have each shareholder asked the same question.
Looking at Conservative donations gives you the impression that donating is part of the requirement in tendering for contracts for government services.

Edward Spalton said...

At the Better Off Out meeting at the Conservative fringe, one speaker said that Conservative party membership had declined from over 2 million in the Seventies to under 200,000 now. Labour has faced a similar decline.

There are now far more PAID elected jobs than there were in the Seventies (I have heard figures from 20,000 to 30,000 quoted). To these should be added the politically nominated appointees to Quangos, regional and local "partnerships", statutory regulatory bodies etc - all PAID. A reasonable estimate is around 50,000.
If you add to that the keen boys and girls, jostling for position to become researchers and assistants-to, you get an idea of the real power of patronage, dispensed by the established parties.

If you add to this figure, their spouses, friends and relations, a very high proportion of the rump memberships of the large party are now simply office seekers, looking for reward.

The parties are marketing organisations, awarding their franchise to the obedient careerists rather than genuine constituencies of interest and public opinion - hence the need for focus groups etc.

Taxpayer funding is creeping in one way or another. The MPs' "Communication Allowance" of £10,000 per year is an award to main party MPs, allowing them to tell their constituents what fine fellows they are, thus raising the bar against interlopers.

The Electoral Commission, it seems, can award grants to help main parties "develop policies" and prepare their manifestos. Given its statutory duty to "educate" people about the institutions of the EU, it should be regarded as a player as well as an umpire in any EU referendum. All the Quangos and "independent" regulators and the like are part of the main party Establishment.

Labour awarded grants to trade unions as part of the "Warwick Agreement" to help them "modernise" - something which every organisation must do anyway,thus releasing cash which can be "laundered" as political contributions quite painlessly.

Parties should be strictly limited to what they can obtain from their members.
Money from corporate donors should not be permitted. Limited companies are "persons" in law and this fiction was a used in Ireland's referendums to permit large donations to the "yes" side.

Similarly, charities (now termed "The Third Sector") have greater freedom to use funds for political purposes associated with their aims .

And so it goes on

PS Greg - what a ripping wheeze! Just the sort of thing I would expect of you.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Monbiot talks sense?

Well I read the article and I can see where he talks SOME sense, but not much.

All that nonsense about global warming is still nonsense.

G. Tingey used to be a shop steward? Well, that explains a few things.

Nigel Sedgwick said...

I am disappointed at Raedwald's view.

Fortunately, Edward Spalton still has his feet firmly on the ground.

Those other than electors, and them only directly, who fund political parties are a distortion of the democratic process. If they do not have votes, they should not buy them, even if that buying is indirectly through funding of advertising.

And no one should buy votes with other people's money: this is especially including the money of of taxpayers.

If getting votes were harder work, politicians would value them more. Votes with ranking systems (eg AV and STV) make it more difficult to get votes (especially first preferences) and so would be a good thing.

[Aside: AV and STV would also help in any gradual political shift of power over time, by making minor party preferences more clearly visible, even if they do not initially win elections. Annual elections would also help, as would official abstentions that could win the ballot and cause an election with new candidates.]

Best regards

G. Tingey said...

I suggest you READ what I wrote, especally the bit about confusing the die-hards?


Anonymous said...

Mr. Spalton, what an appalling state of affairs, a terrible blog-comment [stuff of nightmares - mainly the doing and machinations of the EU - all main political parties are EU huscarls].

And, thank you - for the 'heads-up'.

mikebravo said...

Tingey used to be a shop steward, the Bishop of Bath and Wells and the Queen of Sheeba.

G. Tingey said...

mikebravo ...
Remember, Norman Tebbitt used to be a shop steward (BALPA) didn't he?