Who should pay for political parties?


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.

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  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Your approach would make parties of the “have” much better funded than those of the “have not”. A measure of taxpayer involvement redresses some of that imbalance. There are more remarks to make though: Foreign funding should be prohibited altogether. You wouldn’t want the EC to fund a pro-EU party I imagine. The American Jewish lobby is suspected of donating large sums to Geert Wilders’ “freedom party” in the Netherlands, and one might expect Saudi Arabia to fund any future Islamic party. This leads to the next point, to make it impossible for political movements to escape having to declare their sponsors (above an amount of a few thousand € ), e.g by clever legal constructs. This is not only the case with Geert Wilders’party in the Netherlands but also happened with this, now extinct, Libertas party in Ireland. Britain, with all its foreign owned media should prevent any foreign sponsored parties if there would ever be a chance for that emerging.

    EReply foreign funding of UK parties is already illegal

    • libertarian
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Except the EU already do fund pro EU parties

      • Jerry
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        @libertarian: That is putting in a very simplistic way, as if any anti EU party would want to accept such funding even if offered, it would make them look more than a little hypercritical…

        As I understand it the EU offers such funding to all bona fide political parties.

        • libertarian
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          Not so , the small print says you have to promote the interests of the EU

          • Jerry
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian: Interesting, care to cite a reference that?

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:35 am | Permalink

            I might add that “libertarian” might be getting confused here with the EU’s pension scheme, were indeed people risk loosing their EU pension if they do not protect the interests of the EU – in other words, criticise the EU.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink


            There you go, you have to read a lot of small print before you get to the relevant bits


          • Jerry
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian: I was rather hoping for a chapter and verse citation, after all “libertarian” must have read the small print to be able to tell us that the EU does as he claims and thus should have been able to find it and quote it, not having the time to sift through the above URL and related documents I suppose I will just have to take “libertarian” word.

          • sjb
            Posted July 10, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

            As far as I can see from the link provided there is no obligation to promote the interests of the EU. A party qualifies for funding if the following four conditions are satisfied:

            1. ” the party must have legal personality in the Member State in which its seat is located”;
            2. “[the party] must be represented, in at least one quarter of Member States, by Members of the European Parliament or by Members of national or regional Parliaments or Members of regional assemblies”;
            3. “[the party] must observe the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law”; and
            4. “[the party] must have participated in elections to the European Parliament, or expressed the intention to do so.”

        • bri
          Posted July 9, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          Don’t the EU also fund the BBC to further their joint treacherous aims?

          • Jerry
            Posted July 12, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

            @bri: If that was ever true I don’t think it is now [1], but it wasn’t that simply because as I understand it the EU provides production facilities to any bona-fide media company or professional, this can include anything from simple internet access and telephone to a full studio and post production suite, even broadcast up-link facilities – which of course, if provided free, is likely to be accounted for as a grant of some sort within the productions budget accounts, hence the suggestion that the BBC was ‘funded’ by the EU.

            [1] the BBC has stopped its regular weekly programming direct from the EU, having replaced it with (a very down market) “Politics Europe” at the weekends in the same style as the truly horrific, tabloid, Daily politics…

    • matthu
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Foreign funding of political parties is illegal.

      But in the event of an EU referendum, will the EU be able to flood the UK with pro-EU propaganda?

      • Jerry
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        @matthu: That same question might also be asked of other vestige interests outside of even the EU, after all there are some countries/media moguls that would quite like to break up or at least weaken the EU and would not be adverse to flooding the UK with anti-EU propaganda – in fact I can think of a couple of Television channels that might get taken off the various platform EPG’s at the very least if they did try…

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Notionally foreign funding of UK parties is already illegal, but that prohibition is too easily circumvented by channelling money through domestically established organisations such as companies and unions and charities and think-tanks and campaign groups etc etc; that is one reason every pound received by a political party should come with the name of an individual UK citizen attached, even when the sum provided by an individual is too small to justify his name being published, and with a legal declaration that it has come from the personal resources of that identifiable UK citizen and he is not acting as a proxy or intermediary to disguise the true source of the funding.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Well the distinction between what is legal in relations to party donations, and indeed of the lobbying and “consultancy” fees for MPs, is rather unclear. In practice we all know Labour, under Miliband, is the voice of ever higher taxes to fund ever higher pay for the state sector unions off the backs of people usually earning far less, and often without any pensions at all. What about the pernicious influence of the EU over the BBC and UK politicians? Tax payers money used to subvert the will of those tax payers.

    The absurd green subsidies and the quack energy agenda surely can exists due to “consultancy” fees and similar. There is surely no other rational explanation. After all we have seen, with the expenses scandal and attempted cover up (still continuing) that MP are not in general very honest, honorable or upstanding. Nor is it even very expensive to buy influence.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      I agree with Mr Gove that RE is important in schools, but surely it should be called the history and power of irrational belief systems and philosophies through history, they should also include the global warming religions, astrology and other more modern belief systems.

      The actual Indoctrination of religions into young minds should surely be kept well out of schools and indeed government and life. As we have seen in Egypt, Northern Ireland and throughout history worldwide it causes little but division, strife, cleavages in societies and wars.

      As Steven Weinberg Nobel Prize winner for Physics said:

      “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

      • Iain Gill
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Agreed 100%

        Indeed preventing the best children from attending the best schools because their parents dont play the game of prentending to believe some irrational belief system is very bad for this country.

        • Credible
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

          Many of the best children don’t attend the best schools because their parents can’t afford it either because of fees or house prices.

      • Mark
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        To a non-believer, any belief system is irrational (try convincing someone of the rationality of some of the weird effects of quantum mechanics, or the irrationality of Ed Davey’s energy policy or investment in HS2 for example). I think that Dawkins misses the point in his own terms.

        Sets of beliefs are memem that have very considerable Darwinian survival value. That applies both at the societal level – generating cohesive societies that out compete others, and at the individual level – inspiring people to achieve where otherwise they might fail. These survival values are to a large degree independent of the scientific truth or otherwise of the beliefs, although clearly there are advantages to having a proper understanding of scientific truth too.

        If you destroy a set of beliefs you undermine those advantages – and leave the society open to be taken over by those who actually have a set of beliefs (even though they were previously less successful as sets of beliefs). Rational secularism has yet to develop a set of beliefs that provide the inspiration and societal cohesion that are the hallmarks of successful religions.

        Being memes, religions also tend to adapt to try to survive: this is evident in the lengths to which e.g. modern Catholicism has gone in accommodating modern science. Quantum weirdness is no longer against the religion. Mutation is no guarantee of long term success, as we see with the decline of some religions/sects that have chosen less popular adaptations of their beliefs.

        • Mark
          Posted July 8, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          Similar considerations apply to political parties, which after all represent no more than a body of ideas and beliefs. Indeed, we speak of the Green religion. It is clear that survival depends on securing enough adherents to the belief system a party promulgates. Misalignment between funding and support only delays the extinction of parties that become out of tune a little – at most until the revolution in extreme cases.

      • Bazman
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        It is also part of human Progress. You think computers and the like would exist without it? Even if they knew how to make an engine in the 15th century they would not have been able to make it work due to lack of progress in other areas such as metallurgy which like many areas was driven by religion and if noble prize winners are they are so clever why until recently did you see pictures of them carrying suitcases? Took man years to come up with putting wheels on them. I have excelled myself by being able to tell Noble Prize winners to ram it. I could probably even run a bank into the ground too.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          Not much point in wheels on suitcases until you have lots of flat tarmac surfaces or tiled airports, otherwise it is easier to carry them, tie them on a horse or find a porter.

      • Bill
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Completely disagree. Christianity has shaped European civilisation for more than a millennium and a half. Look at our hospitals (e.g. Barts named after St Batholomew in London) or our universities (e.g. Trinity or Corpus Christi in Oxford, Magdalene in Cambridge) or at our legal system which took the Ten Commandments as a rule of conduct.

        Anyone who thinks RE is about indoctrination does not know (a) anything about the questioning minds of young people (b) the history of the 1944 Education Act which made religious education mandatory. The content of of agreed syllabuses for RE depended on local groups so that variations in beliefs across the UK would be reflected in the classroom. These days the Humanist Association and other secularists sit on these committees.

        The dismissal of religion as if it were irrational is foolish. On the contrary religion offers answers to the perennial problems of human existence – which is why religion is so widespread and exists in every culture apart from those totalitarian states which have tried to stamp it out.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          I would certainly not try to stamp it out but I would not fund it with taxes to augment it. It clearly is totally irrational by definition, but helps some people.

          Just because people believe it and have done for years does not make it rational, any more than socialism or burning witches. People buy lottery ticket, read horoscopes, believe in ghosts and think wind farms and HS2 make sense and are “environmental”. People are clearly very irrational indeed.

          I have no problem with studying RE, Irrational Belief Systems, Goblins, Fairies, the green religion or Philosophy, but it should be put in a scientific context.

          • Credible
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

            What is the scientific context? Science can not prove God does not exist. Anyone who states that God does not exist can not prove it. Give me the scientific proof. To ridicule anyone who believes when you can’t prove the contrary is a misuse and misunderstanding of the capabilities of science.

          • uanime5
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink


            Demanding that someone disprove something is a misuse of science as you cannot disprove a negative. If you wish to claim that God exists or that there’s a teapot orbiting the planet Jupiter the onus is on you to prove it, not on other people to prove you wrong.

          • Credible
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink


            Science deals with the laws of nature. We are talking about whether there is anything outside of nature and science can not deal with that.
            I am not demanding a proof from anyone. I’m saying that anyone who believes in God should not be ridiculed on the basis of science which doesn’t have the capacity to answer that question and never will. The views of atheists should be treated with the same respect I should add.
            You are correct that you cannot disprove a negative and that is another reason for not making definite statements about the non-existence of God.
            At least you and lifelogic are in agreement for once!

        • A different Simon
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          “which is why religion is so widespread and exists in every culture apart from those totalitarian states which have tried to stamp it out.”

          There are many examples of religion thriving on persecution and in totalitarian states like the old USSR and China .

          What we have in the UK ; a move from absolutism to relativism within society which has spread into churches (eg every answer or belief is equally valid) , and tolerance seem to have driven Britons into a stupor generally and church attendances have suffered .

          The old Soviets must be sighing that all they needed to do to undermine religious observance was leave faiths alone !

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          Our hospitals, our better universities and our legal system could all be very much improved. Rather less religion would be a great help in this regard.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

            The Soviet Union tried to stamp out religion as you want and created a vacuum in the process leading to much of what was bad about this regime. When it collapsed everything and everyone was sucked into this vacuum including every religion and crazy idea gibing us what Russia is today, so in fact here is another exmple of why your idea are just simplistic nonsense based around no tax even if the country goes to hell.

        • libertarian
          Posted July 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink


          Our legal system and trial by a jury of peers was entirely founded on Anglo Saxon laws and the Anglo Saxons were pagans. Oh and the christians also nicked most of their holy days, saints and other paraphernalia from the northern pagans too .

          Look at Easter, Yule, Harvest Festival

      • uanime5
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Just because you don’t like global warming doesn’t make the science behind it wrong.

        Also if you want to end religious indoctrination the first step would be to abolish faith schools or at least prevent them from discriminating against people based on their religion.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          I would not state fund faith schools they a a disaster in the making.

          I know that “Just because you don’t like global warming it does not make the science behind it wrong.” nevertheless the science behind it is clearly is wrong (or at least a gross exaggeration) as most sensible scientists now agree. I do not like or dislike it, but as a Physicist/Engineer I can see that the science is clearly bogus politics.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

            Name one of these ‘sensible’ scientists and as a Physicist/Engineer as you claim to be you would be able to understand KW/h, which in the post ‘MP’s Pay’ you clearly cannot.

          • uanime5
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            Care to explain how the science is wrong or exaggerated? Make sure to explain what will happen to the planet if humanity keeping increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

          @U5: Neither does it make AGW a fact, remember at one time the early “scientists” also thought the world was flat…

          • uanime5
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

            Actually early scientists knew the earth was round and there are even medieval drawing to illustrate this. Flat earthers didn’t exist until the 19th century.

            Also just because people were wrong in the past doesn’t make them wrong in the present.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            @U5: you do write some utter twaddle, as 30 seconds on the interweb thingy would show but never mind…


        • A different Simon
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

          Uanime5 ,

          The problem is not whether one believes in AGW or not but that people in authority (politicians and teachers) state it as a fact and anyone who questions it is ridiculed .

          Physics and Chemistry do not have taboos so that is not science .

          Whether there is or isn’t a consensus on AGW is not the point , it is neither proven to be true nor false so remains a theorem .

          • uanime5
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

            There is consensus on AGW because all the evidence indicates that it’s correct. So it has been proven true.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

            @U5: There is no consensus on AGW at all, other than between the various IPCC funded groups, what a surprise! After all if there is no AGW there is no IPCC and thus no funding, meaning there is no IPCC gravy train of research grants etc.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: “In practice we all know Labour, under Miliband, is the voice of ever higher taxes to fund ever higher pay for the state sector unions off the backs of people usually earning far less, and often without any pensions at all

      That might or might not be true and is another debate altogether but at least we do know, on the other hand do we really know just how much influence businesses and business groups have on the policies of the Tory party, the trade unions have always been very open about the fact that the Labour Party is “their party” (in so much that they set it up), I don’t think any other party actually has such clarity in their policy structure!

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        I agree certain group do unfairly influence the Tory party. The EU for example, the fake green industry, perhaps also the pay day lenders at 4000%+ who clearly need to be stopped from peddling such misery. Also the banks who benefit from a lack of fair competition, perhaps too this needs addressing too, I agree but more state sector and higher still pay for them is the last think the country needs.

        Why on earth did the Bank of England not know about the Coop bank’s black hole and why were they allowed to bid for some of Lloyds when they were struggling already? Is the BoE still so incompetent? Does the complaisant Sir Mervyn King really deserve that huge pension and those honours for presiding over a period of abject failure at the BoE? Does the BoE not do sensible risk assessments on the deposit takers the government underwrites clearly not?

        Repyk The banks do not donate to the Conservative party and do not feel they have special access.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          To reply: Why would anyone sensible donate anything to a Tory party led by a socialist?

          • lifelogic
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

            and a serial ratter.

        • zorro
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply – Indeed, this is who contributes to the Tory PartyIn 2011, 450 separate donations given to Conservative Central Office by individuals, companies and limited liability partnerships amounted to 27%, or £3.3m, of the £12.18m donated to the party. It came from hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms.

          The proportion of donations to the Conservatives from the entire financial services sector in 2011 was 51.4% – up 0.6% from 2010……


          Reply These are donations from rich successsful individuals who happy to make their money in financial services.

        • matthu
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          But to what extent do the banks underwrite green technology, carbon trading and so on?

          It is only neecessary to have a monetary system that allows a privileged few to print money from nothing to allow massively misdirected spending.

          It is only necessary to ease control on the growth of money and suddenly there is enough floating around for things like on- and off-shore wind-farms, solar panels, green deals, HS2 … to say nothing of bonuses, gold-plated pensions and the like.

          Easy money benefits bankers and the government and the EU not to mention the overpaid top brass in the House of Lords (many of whom have an interest in seeing the perpetutation of the EU) and at the BBC.

          And of course there is special access – not to any individual political party, but to all major political parties via green lobbying groups and via the EU and so forth.

      • sm
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Unions get grants from the taxpayer via the State, much of which is then passed on to the Labour Party in a variety of ways. Thus, I am funding the Labour Party much against my wishes.

        I think you should take a good long look at the connections many current and past Labour MPs have/had with big business and finance houses before you get round to the Conservatives.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          @sm: Many companies get tax relief, much of which finds its way to the Tory party one way or the other – pot, kettle, black!

          I think you need to take a very hard and long look at how business owners influence the Tory party before ranting on any more about the Unions and how they fund and/or influence the Labour party, what is good for the Goose is good for the Gander – you are making a very good case for equal funding of political parties vis state funding!

          Reply Large quoted companies do not usually donate to the Conservative party, and mulitnationals/foreign companies clearly do not.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            @JR reply: Perhaps not but what about their UK passport holding directors etc. who get whopping bonuses and the like because the company has been able to take advantage of a change in tax rates, some government policy or what ever? I’m making no judgement, just pointing out that donations from vestige interest groups and individuals are given to all parties in hope and nothing wrong in that just so long as it is all done on the same level playing field.

          • lifelogic
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

            Why donate to a socialist Tory party when you can donate to the real one, who will be in power for 2015-2020+

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: Indeed, but some in the Tory party seem to be a little more than worried that people are doing just that, of course if they were to put their own house in order rather than attacking those who have always funded the labour party (since its creation), from the despatch box no less.

            Oh and as for donations to the Labour Party from trade unions, let’s not forget the ‘problems’ the Tory party its self have had with party funding, such as the controversy that surrounded a certain (named donor who gave money according to the rules ed). Words such as glass, stones and houses come to mind…

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

            @JR edit: If the named “donor-ed” gave money according to the rules why the need to edit his name out?!

            But as for giving according to the rules, indeed, and so do the Trade Unions when they donate to the Labour Party…

            Reply I removed the name as you implied he had done something wrong. There is no evidence for such an allegation.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

            @JR reply: Oh right, so it’s OK to imply the Labour party or their backers have done something wrong but not the Tory party or their backers. There was no need to edit anything, a simple rebuttal would have cleared the air – but of course much of the media attention in the first place was due to the unwillingness of this person to issue such a rebuttal in the first place.

            Seems to be one moderation rule for political friends but another for politri8cal foes, glad we now know…

            Reply I apply the same rules to both sides. I often delete allegations about senior Labour figures and backers. I do not wish to see bloggers dragged in to libel suits through casual allegations which may not be true.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

            Oh Jerry

            You socialist just don’t do economics do you.

            You claim that companies get tax breaks that give huge bonuses to individual directors who then contribute to the Tory party.

            Apart from absolutely no evidence for this, if it did happen please explain why this is a bad thing.

            You see Corporation tax is 26% but bonuses are income and taxed at 45% PLUS employers national insurance of 13% Plus employees national insurance.

            So your claim is that company directors get say £1m bonus pay £500,000 in tax and NI and then donate a chunk of it to the Tories…… hmmm OK

          • Jerry
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

            @JR reply: Perhaps names but many have had pops at the trade unions and their donations, suggesting that in some why or other something is wrong (or should be) wrong. Oh and I contest that I inferred anything, unless one is deigning that that there was a media storm and political controversy until the full facts were placed in the public domain – were they should have been from the get-go.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian: “Oh Jerry You socialist just don’t do economics do you.

            Whilst you don’t do manners! Do you always call people who do not agree with your take on anything and everything “socialist”, I bet you don’t go to many pubs…

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

          Indeed the government pay the wages of state sector union staff while on union business, they then pass the money back to the Labour party.

          Is this not state funding by the back door?

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: What utter nonsense, does that also mean the state is subsidising TESCO’s (other supermarkets are available…) because public sector workers happen to shop there! Clue, in the UK there has not bee the closed shop for 30 years, no one is forced to join a union, thus what people do with their own money is there business, just like it is what retailers they choice to use.

          • APL
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “Clue”

            I see you have grabbed hold of the wrong end of the clue stick again.

            Jerry: “does that also mean the state is subsidising TESCO’s ”

            The state employs people and pays them with the money it takes from the Private sector.

            There is only two sources of income for any state, tax and borrowing and borrowing is tomorrow’s tax, anyway.

            While the state takes money from the private sector, and distributes it to it’s public ‘servants’, in so far as those public servants choose to spend their money in TESCO ( or as JR points out any other supermarket ), the supermarket is benefiting from a redistribution of cash from the private sector into the public sector.

            But take into account that the government doesn’t direct it’s employees to spend their wages at a particular supermarket – there is no direct government subsidy of Tesco.

            It would be better if the Private Sector was larger as there would be a larger tax base to tax.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 12, 2013 at 5:26 am | Permalink

            @APL: Sorry but it is you and LL who are grasping at the wrong sticks (in an attempt to bash anyone who doesn’t measure up to your flavour right-wing political dogma), these public employees pay for their union membership out of their salary settlements, just as they pay for their weekly shopping etc, the union closed shop has been illegal for around 30 years and thus no one is being forced to join a union (whilst it is also possible to opt-out of any political levy) just as no one is being forced to shop at any specific supermarket.

            So APL, you need to get up to date, stop trying to fight yesterdays battles, you are 30 years to late. Oh and tax is a completely different issue from unions funding the Labour party, or business funding the Tory party for that mater – nice try and muddying the waters…

          • APL
            Posted July 13, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

            Jerry: “these public employees pay for their union membership out of their salary settlements,”

            Quite right Jerry! Thanks for pointing out that Public employees who are paid out of income taken from the Private sector (tax) then use some of that public money to subsidize a Union that lobbies to grab more public money on their behalf, again at the expense of the Private sector.

            So, as with the BBC, which cross subsidized the Guardian with its lucrative job advertisements out of public funds (etc ed)And the Scot Trust, (etc ed)

            And as with the so called ‘Pilgrims’ that not only work on Union business while being paid by the Public sector out of tax funds taken from the Private sector, but do none of their employees work either – another cross subsidy of the Left at the expense of the Public purse.

            As is the case with all this examples; we see how far the Left has sunk its fangs into the jugular of the British public finances.

            If all public funds were withdrawn from the Left tomorrow, the next day, the whole edifice would collapse – Guardian, the BBC, all the Unions would all be gone.

            Jerry: ” yesterdays battles, ”

            As you call then are very much today’s battles. The public sector is a giant leach destroying the economy of the UK.

            Further, I ain’t gonna take instructions from a Leftie about who or what I oppose.

            It’s just a disaster that the Tory party does. Which is why it is useless as an organization as an instrument of the Right.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink


        You might want to have a quick check of how many banks and large businesses actually support Labour. Most of the partners at Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros are Labour members and of course the 2 Scottish Banks bailed out by Gordon Brown, one of them having lobbied him quite successfully to overturn EU/Monopoly commission competition rules. Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Tim Waterstone, Lord Haskins, Gerry Robinson, Mike Ashley, Sir Maurice Hatter , Lord Levy, Lord Paul, George Simpson & Andrew Stone of Marks & Spencers are just some of the industrialists supporting and donating to Labour(or thought to be favourably disposed to Labour ed)

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian: …and your point was what, other than to try and rubbish the Labour party?

          What is it with some on the right, anyone would think you would like there to be no other p9olitical party! First the labour party were told that they really should not be raising money from the unions, now they are being given a hard time for raising money in the same way and from the same sorts of sources, as the Tory party (and UKIP) do…

          I really am staring to think that many (certainly as represented in these comments) on the right wouldn’t know what democracy is even if it reared up and slapped them in the face!

          • libertarian
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

            Dear Jerry

            Do try and keep up. You claimed that the Tories were the party of big business, I just showed you that so are Labour.

            I don’t need to rubbish the Labour Party they are quite capable of doing that for themselves

            What makes you think I’m right wing ? ( I’m not).

            Actually I think that democracy is about one person one vote and that ALL institutional and unrepresentative donations from individuals should be banned

          • Jerry
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

            @libertarian: Sorry to see that the wider issues go over your head, oh well, never mind, have a good day…

          • APL
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “and your point was what, other than to try and rubbish the Labour party?”

            Which is a very good cause, by the way.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

            @APL: Well yes, but just remember that what goes around tends to come around and 2015 is not so very far away…

  3. Alan
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    I think the payments made by private individuals, companies, or other organisations to MPs or their parties is corrupt.

    People and organisations with money have plenty of ways of influencing public policy anyway. The purpose of election by everyone is to give some power to those of us who otherwise would have no influence over the way in which the country we live in is run.

    And that means, in my view, that we have to pay for MPs and their parties through taxation.

    • Ken Adams
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Alan exactly the opposite would happen if political parties were funded by taxation, more power would be placed in the hands of party leaders, who could then just pursue their own agenda, totally ignoring potential supporters, thus driving an even greater wedge between the voters and the parties.

      Then each party would have to go through some form of official vetting procedure before being assessed as worthy of receiving public funds. Playing into the hands of the bigger already existing parties as newcomers would have no funding and thus no method of getting funding.

      Better that a cap be placed on any single donation thus forcing the parties out onto the street with policies that attract popular support. If they cannot do that then the party has no automatic place in our political debate greater than their following and funding allows.

    • libertarian
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      I agree with your analysis but not your solution.

      Taxpayer funding of political parties is the worst idea ever.

      Does Labour get the same amount as the BNP if not why not? How do you start a new party? How many parties are allowed? What about independents? If you pay on previous seats won then you institutionalise the existing two parties and theyve already proved that neither of them are wanted by a substantial majority of the public and indeed all 3 major parties have haemorrhaged membership over recent years

      No, the solution is very simple, parties should be funded entirely by individual member subscriptions. Thats it. If they cant raise enough to compete it means their policies aren’t acceptable to enough people and that is real market democracy

      • APL
        Posted July 12, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        libertarian: “No, the solution is very simple, parties should be funded entirely by individual member subscriptions.”


    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      We pay for an MP because he is one of our elected representatives.

      There is no reason why we should pay for his efforts to get elected.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        The more we pay MPs the worse the quality of MPs will get. If the tax payer funds the parties too the more entrenched, powerful and unresponsive to the voters the parties will become. Both developments generate career politicians and diminish democracy.

        The high pay and preferential tax rules in the EU are not an accident but are designed to provide an appearance of democracy without actually providing any thus keeping MEPs quiet and on side.

    • Nick
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      And that means, in my view, that we have to pay for MPs and their parties through taxation.



      Why not bypass the parties altogether. Give the vote on issues back to the electorate.

      There’s a simple reason. It’s easy to bribe a handful of MPs or peers. Evidence is all over the place.

      Much harder to bribe an entire electorate, particularly when you are doing it with their money.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        It was possible to bribe an entire electorate when it was the very small electorate of a rotten borough, and putting a stop to that was one of the main arguments for the Great Reform Act.

      • Mark
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Elections seem to be about bribing enough of the electorate to form a government, at whatever cost to the rest of the country. What else are manifesto promises to spend on this and that?

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    “Any UK elector, individual, company or union can give money to a political party which they agree with and wish to support.”

    I would only permit donations and other forms of financial assistance from individuals, and completely ban them from organisations of any kind.

    And those individuals would have to be UK citizens, with a de minimus exemption for foreign citizens so that eg it would not be illegal for them to put a £5 note put into the collection at a public meeting.

    • sm
      Posted July 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Only allow donations by UK citizens fully resident for tax purposes who are not taking advantage of non-domiciled status. Non-citizens no donations allowed.

      The donations would be non tax deductible.

  5. Jerry
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    What I find even more disturbing than the prospect of state funding of political parties is the way some political parties have used their time in government to try and ‘noble’ the funding arrangements of their (main) opposing party – this is why many who believe in true democracy will not take any lectures from MPs regarding the rights and wrongs of political party funding and have not done so for some 30 or so years now…

    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.

    The problem there is how to define such an “outside group or external institution” wishing to have “control or influence”, given that the Trade Unions created the Labour Party in their image and have always funded it. Would the Tory party be so quick to shout foul if their own party had been set up by the CBI to give political voice to business owners and had always been funded by large and small company owners (without any direct permission from the customers, workforce and perhaps even shareholders vote), I suspect not.

    • Mark
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      I don’t think Labour did all that much to nobble other parties’ funding: they did find some rather novel routes to pour taxpayer money into organisations that support the Labour party financially and through public lobbying though.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        @Mark: The Labour party wasn’t in government 30 years ago, nice try to slag off the Labour party but anyone who is not partisan will see through your half-truths and omissions.

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Isn’t a vital issue the candidates’ list? Who decides that and what influence is used to ensure that “preferred” candidates are chosen seems to be a problem. Party members seem to be a mere procedural nuisance and the general voters are nonentities.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      @Brian Tomkinson: That would not be so much of an issue if more poeple voted for the person rather than for the party at elections, perhaps there is were a form of PR might be more useful, people vote for their chosen party and then have to choose from a list of party candidates, thus apart from deciding who is on the lest there will be no actual party candidate. For example the Tory party might field candidates in each constituency who held views from that of the (soaking) “wets” through the Thatcherite centre to those who would otherwise by members of the UKIP. An advantage of this is that voters will not only be voting for their preferred party but directly influencing the policy direction of their chosen party – it would no longer be just an internal party issue.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink


        To a large extent I agree with you, rather than your list suggestion though how about just banning party labels at elections and actually electing a person .

        If electors were forced to find out a candidates policies and manifesto I think we may actually get a better form of representative politics

        • Jerry
          Posted July 9, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          @libertarian: That might work in local WI or parish elections but would be unworkable in county or national politics, 600 odd independents, how and who would form a cabinet etc. You only have to see the wheeling and dealing and stalemate in county councils were there is NOC to understand this.

          The party system hasn’t evolved by accident.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

            I didn’t say ban political parties, I said ban party labels on the ballot paper, so that people knew who they were voting for rather than just a donkey with the right colour rosette

          • Jerry
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian: Err, names are already on the ballot paper, and are far more prominently than the party they are representing, the fact that you do not seem to understand this suggest that you have either never voted or that you do not actually live in the UK…

  7. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I am not so sure whether payment to any political party is corrupt. If I want to support a charity I will do so, I f I want to support any organisation I will do. It is not the giving , but what is expected in return. I know it appears very condescending or perhaps simplistic on my part to even point it out, however making it illegal in case favours are being bought implicitly carries overtones of an uncontrollable corrupt society ,without any credence being given to an instinct which says I want to give.
    I am trusting and I am naïve, but surely there are some out there who are not in politics to primarily get out of it what they can for ‘Jack.’

  8. Roger Farmer
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    The financing of parties when the donor supports the philosophy of the party is fine. If the donation is in exchange for favours in the future, then it is not acceptable.
    More insidious is the lobbying system which seems to allow MPs to be paid for their support, be it a union, commercial company or a charity. The end of career pay off for an MP with a directorship and fat salary is equally unacceptable. The same should apply to civil servants. (It is not acceptable for example for a senior civil servant to do tax deals or ne4gotiate contracts with private business and then go to one of those companies for a well paid job -ed -(there is a system to stop this happening ed)). What he did might just be legal but has the morality of 1930s Chicago.
    As to candidate selection, I believe primaries to be a better route. After a primary constituents are more likely to get an MP who pays heed to their wishes. One that follows the line of a whipping executive for promotional favour is of no use to constituents whose views he chooses to ignore. The referendum votes are a prime example. First we get support from around 100 MPs who believe in it as do their constituents, then last Friday 200 more pop out of the woodwork because they have been told to. Then there were the 300 plus who failed to turn up because they were told to. This is first of all not a vote of conviction in support of the wishes of the people, rather voting to support an executive with their own agenda in the hope it improves future ministerial ambitions.

  9. forthurst
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    “Any UK elector, individual, company or union can give money to a political party which they agree with and wish to support.”

    Unfortunately, we do not have a law that prohibits political parties from tailoring their disclosed and undisclosed prospectuses to attract particular cohorts of donors, therefore the rule about purchasing policy or influence is total rubbish and is nothing but a sop to the electorate.

    It is very obvious that the policies followed by a succession of governments have been congenial to certain groups, frequently of alien origin, and highly inimical to the interests of the English people (mad swivel-eyed loons) and their country.

    The funding of political parties is the Achilles’ heel of democracy etc etc

  10. libertarian
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    It really is very simple. All donations from Unions, Corporates or wealthy individuals should be banned outright. Funding of political parties should be entirely via member subscriptions.

    1) This is fair to all
    2) It will get political parties back in touch with their grass roots
    3) It will teach politicians to live within their means just like the rest of us have to

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink


      Funding of political parties should be entirely via membership subscriptions.

      I would tend to agree with this, as it would also limit the amount anyone can give to the subscription amount only.

      I would also limit it to single individual membership, to avoid any block membership being used. Thus the political levy imposed by Trade Unions should be scrapped.

      If any Party then wants/needs more money, it would need to enlist more members directly, and the only way to do that would to be more in tune with its proposed supporters, which is the general public, the voters.

      We need to get away from both Unions and big business being involved at all, and certainly Government (taxpayer) funding would I feel, be a disaster in the making.

      Let us face facts, big money is the curse of politics, be it funding from Unions big business, wealthy individuals, or payment to via lobbyists to influence pet projects and legislation.

      Time for all political Parties to get back to basics, and get support from the population on policies alone.

      Open primaries for local candidates also need more promotion, let us end the list of HQ placemen/women only for many seats.

      • APL
        Posted July 12, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        Alan Jutson: “If any Party then wants/needs more money, it would need to enlist more members directly, and the only way to do that would to be more in tune with its proposed supporters,”

        You can see why such a proposal has not been put forward by the Party cartel.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      @libertarian: “Funding of political parties should be entirely via member subscriptions.

      If I remember correctly each member of a Trade union used to be (and can still opt to be) a member of the Labour Party – ho-hum…

      Perhaps that is what the right do not like about the Unions and the Labour party, the left have always been better at mobilising and involving their supporters than either of the other two parties of the old landed-gents?!

      • libertarian
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear Jerry

        You’re a bit out of touch aren’t you. You do know that less than a third of Unite members actually vote Labour don’t you.

        No they can’t opt out of membership, they have to specifically post a request to opt out of the political fund and have the amount go to charity. As a trade union member myself I “opted out” and 3 years after demanding that it had still not been done and my donation was never made to charity

        The only thing the left have been good at mobilising is dodgy membership and postal voting.

        Currently the Labour party has less than 100,000 members, whilst Unite claim 2 million members

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian: But no one needs to be a member of a union in the first place. Duh!

        • alan jutson
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink


          Your experience with the Trade union levy mirrors my own of nearly 40 years ago, not much has changed since.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

            @alan jutson: Except that no one is now forced to join a Trade Union. Funny how that, Thatcher era law, somehow gets forgotten when ever the right wish to bash the unions.

          • alan jutson
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink


            Perhaps there are no closed shop agreements now, but many union members do not support Labour, and do not want to financially support them, but you need to opt out if that is the case, and that can be made rather difficult.

            If you think otherwise, then I fear you have been sadly misinformed.

            I have absolutely nothing against Unions or Union membership, indeed when run well, they can be a positive force for group negotiations between a business and its workforce.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

            @alan jutson: Then all they need to do is leave the union if the union makes opting out difficult, if enough people are of similar minds then the message will soon get home. I would just say though, in this day and age those who complain as you are seem to want to join a football club and then expect it to play rugby…

    • uanime5
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      I’d recommend limiting how much each member can donate, so that a few wealthy members within a party can’t obtain a disproportionate influence.

      • alan jutson
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink


        …..”I would recomend limiting”……..

        I think that is why we are only talking about the membership subscription amount, (everyone pays the same), not donations, which would be excluded from the above suggestion.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink


        I’m saying that its member subscription only so if its £100 per year its £100 very everyone, of course you can have concessions for OAP’s students etc but that’s it.

        No wealthy donors , no union, think tank, lobby or pressure group money

  11. Acorn
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    “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.”

    I hope you will include the private sector as well !!!! I doubt if more than a small fraction of the £2 billion spent on lobbying UK politicians and their parties, is spent by the public sector. And, it is not so easy for the public sector to hide it in the accounts.

    Now, if we had full disclosure of tax returns for lobbyist firms, big corporations, political parties and politicians, we could match them up and see whose tax bill changed, when a tax law was quietly changed. You can’t separate party funding from lobbying, the first is necessary foreplay for the second. Not forgetting the “revolving door” officials and SpAds

  12. Nick
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    People fund parties because they are buying political decisions in their favour. There is no other explanation.

    So what we need is to bypass the parties. Instead of the archaic system where representatives once elected do as they please, we need a system of one person one vote, on the issues.

    I suggest the cheap solution of referenda by proxy. We nominate an MP as our proxy, and its proxy votes that count for bills.

    Now if you want to give people a real choice John, you can set up a website where the people who nominate you, can cast their vote, and you will act as a true proxy.

    It’s cheap. Voter registration costs 100 million a year. Adding a proxy name, say 20 million on the form. Now for the savings. We don’t need the lords. 2,200 pounds a day, per peer saved. 750 million saved over as parliamentary term.

  13. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I would like to know who is funding UKIP. .Who would fund capital punishment? only (quesitonable people ed) . alternative energy is a good move, we don’t need the argument for global warming to even enter into a greener move, we need alternative sources of energy which will be long term,exactly for our independence. The influx of immigrants affects us all. etc

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      @margaret brandreth-j: “ alternative energy is a good move

      Indeed and we have had it since the 1950s, it’s called nuclear power, we do not need non science to tell us that we need to reinvent what our forbears realised would not work or could not be relied on – such as wind and solar.

      The influx of immigrants affects us all

      As do those nationals who emigrate, perhaps you would like to see a eastern-block style ban placed on such free movement of nationals, after all how can the state be certain that those who leave our shores to holiday etc. will return, how can we be sure that they will not inflict on others what we don’t want inflicted on ourselves?…

    • ian wragg
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      I’m funding UKIP through my membership and donations as I can afford and thousands like me.
      I would also contribute to fund capital punishment.
      Read Christopher Booker in todays Telegraph and see the stupidity of the so called green energy.
      Germany has finally seen sense and gone back to coal fired power stations after destabilising the grid through wind farms and PV panels.
      Spain has cancelled all subsidies to windmills and PV panels and suddenly the market has dried up. Fancy that.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        ian wragg: “I would also contribute to fund capital punishment.

        Until the day you or your closest and dearest are first incorrectly accused, then found guilty and third face the executioner. Oh and don’t think that DNA evidence will save the day, there has already been miscarriages of justice involving such cast iron scientific ‘evidence’.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          Nearly a hundred innocent people now killed by murderers let out of prison who were originally given a “life sentence”.
          Lets hope that no one you, nor I know, will be another innocent added to this sorry toll.
          When capital punishment was removed we were assured that life would mean life in most instances.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2: That is an argument for making “Life in prison” mean Life, not for the (re-)introduction of the death penalty. One can no more ‘unkill’ someone murdered by a criminal as an ‘unkill’ some innocent person wrongly killed by judicial execution.

          • APL
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            Edward2: “Nearly a hundred innocent people now killed by murderers let out of prison who were originally given a “life sentence”.”

            Let us not forget the inhumane treatment given to Ian Brady, force fed and kept alive by the government of this country – when, sure in the knowledge that he will stay in prison for the rest of his life.

            How much more humane to put him down like the vicious murderous creature he was – after due process of law.

            What pain and suffering he and the likes of Longford have caused to the parents of Brady’s victims, all in the name of their distorted idea of humanity.

        • bri
          Posted July 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

          Sadly mass surveillance & widespread hand held video devices have provided indesputable evidence of guilt that should lead to the re-introduction of capital punishment for certain offences IMHO.

  14. English Pensioner
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    The political parties spend far too much money which is mostly unnecessary. (OK it’s far worse in America!) They should have to rely solely on members’ subscriptions and donations limited to a relatively small amount per individual. This would stop the parties becoming arrogant and ensure they perused policies which had the broad support of members. They would actually be concerned about any drop in membership and would not ignore local parties as at present. We don’t need huge party HQs dictating to members how they should think. UKIP seems to be doing quite nicely and surviving largely on members’ subscriptions, why can’ all parties do the same?

  15. Mark B
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    The political parties already receive monies from the UK tax payer. Not that we were ever asked. Further, they also receive monies from the EU, which is indirectly funded by the UK tax payer.



  16. Bill
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I would not want to see state funding of political parties for the very obvious reasons that (a) tax money would have to be used to support this system and (b) large numbers of political parties would result in an endless permutation of coalitions.

  17. Neil Craig
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    In fact all the discussion about whether we should introduce public funding of parties is a smokescreen.

    We already have state stealth subsidy- and unsurprisingly it is done in the most corrupt, jobs for the boys, way possible. Parties do get what is called Short Money, introduced to help parties in “research” and Policy Development Money, introduced for much the same reason and many MPs donate to their parties which, except in cases where they are independently wealthy, must, if they are really not overpaid, come out of expenses.

    Naturally, bearing in mind who sets the rules, & that it is stealth funding largely unknown to the public, this money is limited to established Westminster parties. For Labour and the Tories, who have well established donors, it is a nice little earner but for the SNP & presumably others, it amounts to nearly as much money as all their declared public donors.

    For UKIP, who in the only proportional UK wide elections placed 2nd last time and are expected to do better next time, it amounts to zero.

    Yet another corrupt barrier to democrat change in Britain.

  18. Iain Gill
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    On reflection probably political finances should be cleaned up.

    Probably some limited form of public funding maybe needed.

    However in return for funds I think the public would want the whole selection of candidates to be made more fair and equitable, in both the main parties. And make it easy for new parties and independants to have a fair chance too.

  19. Andy Baxter
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink


    Anyone who unconditionally wants to donate or bequeath….

    Errr……that’s it

    Funding political parties (via demanded with menaces taxation and/or borrowing without our consent) is akin to the political levy on union dues without the so called ‘opt out’ being in place

    It’s wrong on so many levels.

    If a political party (basically a private membership club open to anyone who wants to support and pay for it) cannot survive or thrive via mass appeal and support for policies that the majority agree with via donations and membership fees then why should taxpayers fund them?

    I’m a member of a few private clubs that need additional funding but we wouldn’t get taxpayer funded support so why should a political party?

  20. Martyn G
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    council taxpayers district, county or unitary authority levels are already charged to fund the small army of ‘political advisers’ that each mainstream party is allowed to keep in post at those levels.
    No use questioning it as I did for justification for these so-called political advisers, I was told quite shorty that it is allowed for in Law. So there it is, an already established method of extracting monies from the taxpayer to fund political activities. Not a lot of people know that!

  21. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Recently, a proposal was put to the Executive Committee of North East Hampshire Conservative Association to federate permanently with Basingstoke Conservative Association and East Hampshire Conservative Association. The case rested on cost sharing and cost reductions, plus revenue sharing, after a period of declining membership. It was narrowly defeated. No one disputed the need to get finances on a better footing but it was recognised that there are alternatives.

    For a start, we might recognise that membership is low at this point in the electoral cycle. The pro EU and politically correct opinions of some in the Conservative Party are definitely not helping. Secondly, there is a need to raise more money from events. Doers, as opposed to facilitators of top down politics, are the people needed in local Conservative Associations.

    We would do well to remember that if we are to be less dependent on donations from big business and ‘old money’, then we have to be more active, expanding our base and dipping into our own pockets.

  22. bluedog
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    JR says, ‘It is against the rules to give money to buy a change of policy or to purchase a particular candidate at a selection.’

    Perhaps these rules should be brought to the attention of a certain Conservative peer. Perhaps there should be a new rule that prevents what is effectively the purchase of a peerage or a knighthood, both of which have been customary practice for hundreds of years, in one form or another.

    It is surely time to reconstitute the house of Lords as an elected senate (part of a wider constitutional re-organisation of the UK) in order to permit some degree of accountability. The extraordinary proliferation of Life Peers with a life voting right is quite bizarre in a participatory democracy. Clearly some voters are more equal than others.

  23. Mike Wilson
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    ‘ … 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. ….’

    Is that the most naïve thing you have ever read? Or is it typical politico double speak? By definition a donation – especially a big one – has conditions attached.

    If you do give money to a political party you ‘agree with’ and, in office, they renege on the things they originally said that you agreed with – can you ask for your money back? For example, if a political party promised you a referendum on, say, the Lisbon treaty and, on that basis, because you agreed with them, you sent them £50 to ‘fight the good fight’ and then, in office, they refused to hold that referendum – could you get your £50 back?

  24. APL
    Posted July 9, 2013 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    JR: “Who should pay for political parties ..”

    The membership only.

    What has millions spent on think tanks got us over the last fifty years? Financial disaster and industrial ruin. Thank you political parties, we’ve had enough of that.

    If you can’t survive on your membership fees, another party will come along to replace you.

    There is no natural law that says there must be a ‘Conservative’ party or a ‘Labour Party’.

  • About John Redwood

    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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