Bleary arguments for increased state funding of political parties
Hazel Blears in the Guardian:
[skip the ones we've heard time and again]
Nor should the taxpayer be expected to pay wholesale through state funding. Being able to function without fees or donations would make parties lazy. In effect it would nationalise political parties, and set in aspic the configuration of our two-and-a-half main parties. But an increase in state support for better policy-making, and political training for candidates is in everybody’s interests.
As far as I know, that is the first time anyone has suggested that state funding should be dedicated to “better policy-making” and “political training” – whatever that means.
No one party should be able to outspend another locally to skew an election result.
Control-freakery. And I’m sure she doesn’t mean that the Labour party wouldn’t be allowed to outspend Respect to get back Bethnal Green & Bow.
Peter Bradley’s analysis of the result in his former constituency, Wrekin, and elsewhere, shows that in 2005 the seats where the Tories piled in extra resources saw larger-than-average swings to their party. Several Tory MPs owe their positions and salaries not solely to their electorates, but to a handful of donors whose munificence helped them over the finishing line.
Pot, meet Kettle.
Nor should we allow an “arms race” of campaign spending, especially on expensive poster sites which have little impact on voters’ intentions. Labour spent roughly £6m on posters in the 2005 election. Can anyone remember what they said? What counts in elections is local campaigning, with dialogue and contact in the community.
Well, why don’t we leave that up to the parties and the voters?
If posters are a waste of time and money, and local campaigning counts in elections, the party that does the latter and not the former should win. Why not leave it up to parties to spend their
ill-gotten gains money as they see fit?
The Phillips review should recommend caps on parties’ total spending, all year round, locally and nationally. That might mean a total national limit on parties’ annual expenditure of roughly £35m, and a cap on constituency parties of £30,000-£40,000. The question of large personal donations must also be addressed, and state support must act as an incentive to reach more voters and make better policy.
Why can’t parties spend what they get from donors and members?
This really isn’t a difficult concept to grasp.
Sure, restrict donations so that one person or company doesn’t have undue influence. But restrict spending?
The only rule on spending should be that they should be subject to the same rules as any other organisation – their assets are at risk if they don’t keep up with repayments.
It is also vital that Sir Hayden respects the lineage and traditions of the main parties. For Labour that means trade unions should continue to be affiliated to the party at national and local level.
I wonder why the trade unions don’t form their own party… again.
I have seldom seen anything so irresponsible in politics as Francis Maude MP’s recent attempts to attack Labour’s union links.
cough loans-for-peerages cough