Friday, 20 August 2010

Warning: Thieves operate in this area

Before very long, Sir Christopher Kelly's Committee for Standards in Public Life will publish an issues paper on party funding. It is absolutely vital to the health of our democracy that nothing in such proposals gives any advantage to the incumbent parties, that nothing effectively establishes Labour, the LibDems and the Conservatives as the 'official' State parties. This would be the death of democracy in the UK.

At a time when the Labour party is over £20m in debt and near to bankruptcy, there will be a strong sympathy amongst the media and the political class to give a favourable wind to stealing our taxes to prop up the terminally ill organisation. The LibDems, too, with only 60,000 members before entering into coalition and, I suspect, very much fewer now as the closet socialists leave the party, will lobby strongly for State funding.

Hayden Phillips' proposals for funding are so risibly biased to the interests of the incumbent parties they can be dismissed without further consideration. Phillips appears to believe not that a diversity of parties are vital to a healthy democracy, but only that a financially secure and flourishing triumverate of established parties provides good health. His outright dismissal of the 'Power' proposals for individual voter choice on funding, divorced from the vote actually cast at the ballot box, is both corrupt and dangerous.

I would go even further than 'Power' as I believe only a shift back from the metropolitan centre to local will help us cure our democratic ills; I would ensure that any funding was paid to local associations only, with an absolute legal prohibition on the national party requiring local parties to hand any of it over at all. Thus only parties with a registered association in the constituency would benefit, and the political class be starved of the gold that feeds central Statism.

These arguments are for later in the Autumn, however. Until then, watch your wallets and handbags - thieves really do operate in this area.


Hector said...

It is hard to believe the Labour party are so broke.
I thought Brown was channelling funds into the party, via the Union "modernisation fund" - I thought they were now quids in!

Tax payers money for political parties is a jaundiced idea.

Who needs political parties? -

They have strangled 'democracy' already, shoe ins for silly 'young things'; who have no knowledge of the real world but know and tow the party line religiously are not what the country wants or needs!

We would have a much better and objectively democratic HOUSE of Commons, if we had independent MPs.

Are you listening Cleggerons?

Anonymous said...

Warning: Thieves operate in this area.

That headline warning can be applied to so much of what public office has to foist upon the public.

Its all so depressing. Why can't we have a leader in this country - one who knows what is instinctlively right (by that I mean morally correct).

All these committees and bodies set up to sort this problem out or that problem out are just in it for themselves. They write their own paychecks from the tax-payers money. Sod the lot of 'em!

Coney Island

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct. If parties have lost touch with the public and therefore can't get members and supporters the very last thing they deserve is to be taxpayer supported.
Like you I would prefer to remove parties entirely from government. People should vote for the person they want to represent THEIR views. Once in Westminister the representatives should elect a prime minister to represent parliament.

Edward Spalton said...

The £10,000 per year "communication allowance" granted to sitting MPs was a step down this road. It is to help them tell us what fine fellows they are and what goodies they have secured for their constituents.

In other walks of political life, disguised state funding is creeping in. If you get elected as a councillor, you may be expected to donate a portion of your rapidly increasing allowances to the party to which you owe your victory. Also, nominations to quangos can carry loadsamoney.

Until relatively recently these were jobs which were done for expenses only. This was a feature of British political life, mentioned by Sir Ivor Jennings in his book "The British Constitution" ( I have a copy of the 1966 edition)

The system of parliamentary expenses started in 1971 in a modest way (just as the negotiations for EU membership were hotting up). Parliament decided to refer its remuneration and conditions to something called the "Top Salaries Review Body". Enoch Powell denounced this as corruption. He was certainly right.

I believe that, prior to that, MPs received their salary, first class rail travel to and from their constituencies, franking for their mail and 2,500 sheets of paper per year. That was enough when Parliament ran an empire - no assistants, researchers, secretaries etc. There would still be plenty of candidates if we returned to that system.

Chris said...

Are you listening Cleggerons?

As Clagg's recent Repeal Anything Except What the Public Want farce showed; they are only listening to the voices that say what they want to hear.

("Silly old Hector!")