Thursday, 9 September 2010

If you're free this afternoon ...

If you're free this afternoon, and near Whitehall, you may want to go long to Admiralty House to hear Clegg speak at the Committee for Standards in Public Life's annual Open Meeting (2.30 - 4.00 pm, call Maureen Keane on 020 7276 2589)

Clegg will launch Kelly's review of party funding, for which the Committee will publish an issues paper and have signalled a final report by next Spring.

Although I'm utterly opposed to the corrupt proposals made by Hayden Phillips, proposals that would guarantee the incumbency of the current big three parties however small their memberships shrink, I am not completely opposed to a tax contribution to parties, so long as it fulfils the following two conditions;

1. Contributions must be made on the basis of a discrete decision by each individual voter (i.e. not tied to the vote they cast, not presumed, and with the individual option to make no contribution at all)

2. Contributions should be paid to local party associations active in the constituency only and not to central party offices (thus no individual contributions could be made to a party established solely at national level and with no grass-roots structure)

Clegg is reported to be set to announce today proposals for 1:1 tax-matching of small contributions made to parties; I would support this, but it's only one way of doing it. Alternatively, voters could return an additional slip at local elections listing all parties registered in the constituency and vote one of them around £3 a year of tax money, or tick the box for 'no contribution'. Both methods could satisfy my two conditions above.

What we can't have, what we must resist with every breath in our bodies, is any system that either leaves the decision to politicians themselves or links it in an automatic process to the number of votes gained in a national or local election.

Anyway, if any of you do go today, and want to blog about it, I'll gladly either post a link here or host a piece.


SimonF said...

I'm not convinced about your option 2.

The system will be gamed and no matter what rules you put in place those who give directly to local associations will be persuaded to make donations directly to central funds.

English Pensioner said...

Trade Union members can opt out of the political levy which used to be compulsory until stopped by Margaret Thatcher. Surely it would be totally against Tory principles to introduce such a scheme without some form of opt out