Saturday, March 18, 2006

Labour and Sleaze!

This is one of those posts where I feel I have a lot to say, but don't know where to begin.
I suppose on one level, it could be argued that now, those of us on the Labour Party know what it's like to be on the receiving end, and that is fair, but only to a degree. Jack Dromey, the Labour Party Treasurer, wants to see an inquiry and many will accuse him of protecting his back, but in fairness what would you do! Any way you look at it the man has no choice!
So, yeah, I am perhaps more understanding than I would if it was a Conservative Party problem, however this does raise some legitimate questions about fundraising! Do we stick to donations from wealthy businessmen or do we rely on Trade Union support, although the very critics attacking the government now cried foul when that happened!
Perhaps state funding via the British taxpayer? I am somewhat unhappy with that! Would you want a proportion of your taxed income to end up in the coffers of a Party you dislike whether it is Tory, Lib Dem, or even dare I say, Labour. Or worse, if it ended up in the BNP accounts.
No, that won't do, so what are the realistic alternatives?
For a start, anything related to peerages to be dealt with by an independent commission. It's not perfect, but it is better than the system right now. Just so long as Simon Jenkins comment last night on peerages on auction, such as Sotherby's, isn't seriously considered! ;)
Secondly, all parties declare full details of all loans on the same basis as donations. If there is one thing I have found in the last few years is that government is difficult, but we must keep to the standards and ethical visions which attracted us into politics in the first place. Many in the Labour Government, like it or not, are decent hard working people trying to do a decent job in harsh circumstances. Yes, some have failed the grade, yes if there has been corruption here, then those responsible should and must be punished, but many are quick to make judgements before the full details are known and many are quick to play the pious pharissee and cast the first stone. I do not believe this is the government of Lloyd George Mark II and I would not defend it if it was, but if you really want to see justice done, then pray for those of us within the Labour Party and in government, help us to deal with these dilemmas head on, recognise that the problems involve affect all the main parties and let us work together to get rid of the stench of any misunderstanding or corruption.
Unless of course, you think it is more fun being critical of the government and picking up stones to throw!

5 comments:

Louisa Willoughby said...

Definately, it's really important to pray for governments. But are you also implying that you will be praying for the Conservative, Lib Dem, and other parties, given that they represent the majority of the British public, and given that their role as opposition is increasingly important? ;)

With regards party funding, I'm not sure what I think. I was reading something in the New Statesman today about a 'voucher' system, whereby when someone votes they can choose a party for the state to donate £3 to. Because with the mass donations going on, it is always the richer parties that get the most money, and that's not fair, nor is it incredibly representative. Though obviously safeguards need to be in place for parties like the BNP.

I do think that while we need to just get on with government, and pray for people, sometimes there are problems deep within that need to be solved. It's sometimes just not good enough to say, just pray for us. In this situation, I don't know enough to judge, but I would say that some self-analysis is needed.

Paul Burgin said...

Definately, it's really important to pray for governments. But are you also implying that you will be praying for the Conservative, Lib Dem, and other parties, given that they represent the majority of the British public, and given that their role as opposition is increasingly important? ;)
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Of course I will ;). This issue is too important.
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I do think that while we need to just get on with government, and pray for people, sometimes there are problems deep within that need to be solved. It's sometimes just not good enough to say, just pray for us. In this situation, I don't know enough to judge, but I would say that some self-analysis is needed.
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So of course it's a pity that many are quick to condemn the Labour Party without suggesting practical solutions

David Osler said...

The problem is, state funding could only address the issue of sleaze if all other donations were banned. Otherwise, it would amount to little more than a handy little top-up.

But party members and supporters should have the right to put their money where their mouth is. So should trade unions, if their memberships mandate them to do so.

And - let's be consistent here - businesses should be allowed to make political donations too, provided they ballot their shareholders on the question.

State funding would in practice be tantamount to state licensing of political parties, based on past electoral performance. Legitimate newcomers would be severely disadvantaged.

Worst of all, state funding offends against basic democratic principles. Political parties are voluntary organisations. If people want to support them, they do. If they don't want to, they don't.

This is how it should be. There can be no justification for forcing taxpayers to pay for parties they are at best indifferent towards, and at worst heartily despise.

My solution? A democratic socialist party with an enthusiastic mass membership and labour movement affiliations could raise all the money it needed from it committed backers.

If New Labour had a million members - and that was Blair's stated aim ten years ago - it wouldn't be forced cadge questionable loans off ex-Tory businessmen desperate to don ermine.

But perhaps the most damning point that can be made about the Patel-Townsley-Garrard affair is Blairism's endemic fingers in the till behaviour has lost the power to shock anymore. That surely must be bad news for democracy.

Louisa Willoughby said...

"So of course it's a pity that many are quick to condemn the Labour Party without suggesting practical solutions."

Absolutely. But if you're pointing the finger at me, I don't think I know enough, nor can know enough, to make any solutions. I just think it's better to do self-analysis than say let's just move on or, for that matter, say someone else should find a solution.

Paul Burgin said...

Oh Louisa I would never point the finger at you ;)
I would sharply disagree, tease, even make fun perhaps, but no finger pointing :-)
I was referring to the onslaught of attacks by the Tory media.
David I agree to an extent, although funding by mass membership happens already and that does not add up to much when you are a party aiming for power, esp if you are aiming to be more of a broad church.