Thoughts on party funding

The??game is up for big ticket loans and gifts from rich individuals and companies??to the main political parties.?? It is extraordinary that Labour carry??on as if nothing has happened, with the police investigating their fund raising activities over the last two elections.?? Even if we assume that no charges are brought in the end, things will not be the same again.?? Parties not only need to be above suspicion, but to be seen to be above suspicion.

The tragedy of big money politics is that the public dislike the way the money is spent, as well as how it is raised.?? The two main parties ran very expensive General Election campaigns in 2005 which made it less likely that people would vote for them.?? Between elections parties spend too much on polls and focus groups, so they can craft messages based on what people already think or want.?? No wonder people are so distrustful of the main parties.

The answer is not more public funding of political parties.?? It would be a bad idea to say to the public, "because you cannot trust us to raise the money privately we will take it from you through taxation and give it to ourselves".?? The main political parties have to wake up to the reality of life – you only spend what you can earn.?? The parties have to adjust their budgets to what they can raise in voluntary subscriptions from donors, whilst no longer asking for a few mega grants and loans from the very rich.

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5 Comments

  1. Jorgen
    Posted December 18, 2006 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Good idea, just put a limit on how much a single donor can give. That would give Labour problems as they have a few very big donors.

  2. Werner Patels
    Posted December 18, 2006 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Here in Canada, parties receive C$1.75 for each vote they obtained in a federal election. Plus, with a new Accountability Act in place now, donations to parties are limited to C$1,000 per person, and corporations and unions are no longer allowed to contribute to political parties.

  3. Werner Patels
    Posted December 19, 2006 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Why did you delete my comment about party funding in Canada, which I had provided as an example of doing things?

  4. John Redwood
    Posted December 19, 2006 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Werner Patel, can you please post your comment again. It may be it was deleted from the blog in error.

  5. Werner Patels
    Posted December 19, 2006 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Here's what I wrote in my original comment (as food for thought):

    Here in Canada, we have adopted new rules for party funding.

    First off, donations to parties are now limited to C$1,000 per person a year, and companies and unions are barred from making donations.

    Second, and this has been around for some time now, parties receive C$1.75 for each vote cast in their favour in a federal election. The Green Party of Canada, for example, even though it is not represented in the House of Commons, received over a C$1 million for the votes it got in the last federal election (January 2006).

    For new upstart parties, this C$1.75 per vote system is a good way to get off the ground, but generally I believe that parties should sustain themselves on donations from supporters and members. This would also create an incentive for parties to listen to their grassroots (which the Conservative Party of Canada has been doing, but the Liberal Party continues to silence the grassroots voices – as a result, the Tories have full coffers, while the Liberals are scraping the bottom of the barrel).

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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