I do not agree with the idea that taxpayers should finance political parties. It is healthier if parties have to raise money from their members for their political purposes. There has been some movement towards more taxpayer funding of parties in the UK, but they still need money from voluntary donation to survive and prosper.
The rule behind voluntary subscription is simple. Any UK elector, individual, company or union can give money to a political party which they agree with and wish to support. What they should not do is to give money to a political party with conditions attached. It is against the rules to give money to buy a change of policy or to purchase a particular candidate at a selection.
So if an individual wants a referendum in the next Parliament on the EU it is fine for them to give money to the Conservative party who wish to hold one. It would not be fine for that individual to go to one of the other parties not offering a referendum and say they will give them the money if they change their policy and offer one.
Issues over candidate selection depend on the rules of the individual parties and constituency associations. It is not against the rules to enrol more people into an association prior to a new candidate selection, though parties usually have some requirement for people to be members for a specified time period before the selection to qualify to vote in it. Selection competitions have rules over how candidates can approach members to seek their votes. In order to prove malpractice in any given selection procedure those making the allegations would have to prove that people were enrolled without their knowledge or consent, or their votes were manipulated or given without their own control over how they were cast.
Parties normally wish to ensure that there is no concerted attempt by an outside group or external institution to control or influence the type of candidates selected or the views of the candidates selected.
Next week I want to look at the issue of how the public sector lobbies, and the extent to which public money is used to try to persuade decision takers in the public sector to spend more public sector cash.