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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Time to bust the cosy Party club

It won't be long before the dying private clubs that are the big three parties start bleating again about getting more tax funding. Never mind that in a 2008 paper for Policy Exchange Michael Pinto-Duschinsky calculated that with TV broadcasts, free postage and central and local government expenses and allowances all added in they already get £1.75bn 'free' over the electoral cycle. 

The cosy Westminster club looks after its own. Mandarins and ex-mandarins such as Hayden Phillips and Christopher Kelly also have a stake in maintaining the status quo of 'one in, one out and Buggins' turn', hence the corrupt and distorted recommendations of their respective 'independent' inquiries. The club's self-preservation mechanism is nowhere more apparent than in the distribution of over £9m of tax cash to the big parties;

P.D.G. 2012/13 Short Money 2012/13 Cranborne Money 2012/13 TOTAL % of 2010 election votes % of tax funding
Conservatives 455,193 NIL NIL 455,193 36.1% 4.9%
Labour 455,193 6,313,426 540,898 7,309,517 29.0% 78.3%
Liberal Democrats 455,193 NIL NIL 455,193 23.0% 4.9%
UKIP NIL NIL NIL 0 3.1% 0.0%
BNP NIL NIL NIL 0 1.9% 0.0%
Scottish Nationalists 171,337 176,892 NIL 348,229 1.7% 3.7%
Greens NIL NIL NIL 0 0.9% 0.0%
Democratic Unionists 155,788 157,013 NIL 312,801 0.6% 3.4%
Sinn Fein NIL NIL NIL 0 0.6% 0.0%
Plaid Cymru 151,509 75,423 NIL 226,932 0.6% 2.4%
SDLP 155,788 66,610 NIL 222,398 0.4% 2.4%


In fact if there were an election tomorrow, the LibDems are the only party whose share of the pot is about equal to the share of the vote they would get, according to the latest Opinium poll in today's Observer. If Labour win in 2015, the Conservatives will pick up the £7.5m annually instead. One in, One out and Buggins' turn.

This isn't an argument for PR; I'm convinced that FPTP remains the best electoral system for this nation. No, it's an argument for bringing to an end the pernicious distortion of throwing tax money at some parties but not at others. This funding encourages central, Statist parties in league with a central, Statist mandarinate and Big Corporatism. The total of £9.33m is equal to 311,000 members paying £30 a year each - a membership total that not one of the big three parties can come even close to. With a combined membership of less than 450,000, fewer than 1% of the electorate, this tax funding almost gives them equal match funding in lieu of real members. It's a disgrace; it's distorted, corrupt and exclusive. And we must end it.


Barnacle Bill said...

I'm beginning to come around to the idea of PR; if only as a means to breaking the stranglehold the three mainstream parties have on preventing electoral reform.
Short of a civil uprising I can't see how we can curtail the piggies & parties of troughing our money.

Nigel sedgwick said...

It is interesting to note that the political parties that make up the government get no Short Money and no Cranborne Money. Presumably this is because being in office offers equivalent benefit to the party (or parties) in power. That adds another £7.338million to the extent of taxpayer funding of political parties. On top of that, , Wikipedia reports (in 2003, so presumably more now) Sinn Fein got just under £97,000, so we are up at a total of £16.67million.

That is, on top of MP's salaries and directly charged expenses, over £25,500 per MP. It would be interesting to know whether and how this money is accounted for to taxpayers.

I also read somewhere, not long ago, that the Labour Party got over £1million from the Electoral Commission. I am struggling to remember why, but I think it was for thinking about electoral reform. Again, surely actual cash or equivalent benefit must accrue to the Conservative and Liberal democrat Parties on this issue, for such a payment be have any political balance.

Were not MPs somewhere justifying their dubious expense claim arrangements because they are not paid enough to do their job?

Well, let them have this bucket of taxpayers' money. MPs should have it directly, and they should account for it.

Then political parties could be kept out of the issue. And no government expenditure should provide political or other benefit to the party or parties in power: they should account for an equitable proportion and the political party (or parties) pay it back into taxpayer funds.

So, assuming the sums for Short and Cranborne Money and PDG are right, the party (or parties) in power should be paying the taxpayer at least £9million per annum for the privilege.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note from the chart that the poxy regional old boy clubs get lots of state money, whilst in England the bigger (small) parties get nothing..

So there it is...

UKIP is the only honest party in that it does not force the public to contribute to its coffers.