Political and Social Blog. A Magazine Forum on public and private thoughts, meanderings, and odds and ends. (Disclaimer: The views held on this blog are our views, and not necessarily the views of any organisation we are involved with or represent)
State funding is already set at £20m (Short Money), and the Tories get most of it.State funding is essential - £25m a year is a bargain - we can't leave our funding to big business and rich individuals who distort policy. Goverments get to spend half a trillion a year - state funding of £20m is a pittance of this and protects us from the rich and powerful taking over our parties.
All of those points are true, but it would be a very foolhardy rich individual, given what has gone on in the past year, who handed money to a political party without the expectation that his or her life would be turned upside down. Scruntiny by the media is now such that any suggestion that policy was being shaped to suit donors would be rapidly exposed - and quite rightly so.State funding will not bring you clean policitcs - if any such thing exists. Wealthy individuals and businesses should be able to use their money as they wish - David Sainsbury, a good science minister who was ultimately tripped up by the whole climate surrounding this issue, is a case in point. In any case, even if you put a cap on donations, those daft enough to think they can do some sort of shady deal with a party will just spend their money with some of the lobbyists dotted around the Westminster village. It is the nature of politics. What the parties ought to make clear - and both have been lamentably bad at doing this - is that there can be no preferment because of donation. They should be encouraging philanthropic support for political debate.State funding will simply induce further apathy and reduce voter participation. People don't like it, and if they see that by voting they will give such and such a party 50p, they won't bother. A bit a flaw in Sir Haydn's proposals, methinks.
The Power Report addresses this issue - there should be a tick box on the ballot paper that allows people to donate nothing or even donate to a party they didn't vote for.While you are correct that the media can scrutinise those who donate, the media has its own agenda and while Labour/Lib Dem donors are checked and re-checked, Far more unscrupulous Tory donors get much less publicity.
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