• State funding of political parties: Is it on the way?


    Yesterday’s Guardian reported upon the expected crisis in the Labour Party’s funding if and when the Tories manage to get their new proposals regarding the political levy onto the statute book.
    Herewith: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/10/labour-expecting-6m-loss-in-funding-through-trade-union-bill?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H&utm_term=148991&subid=15907465&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2
    Of course the Chameleon will be effusive about how much he cares about individual worker’s freedoms to support those parties and causes they want to but British Gazette knows that this particular Old Etonian is looking forward to delivering a kick to poor Comrade Corbyn in the unmentionables.

    Of course, the Chameleon NOT will be doing anything to reform party financing generally in the UK. The Chameleon will also know that his many critics in the centre left establishment that is made up of the “chattering classes” will suggest that the Tory law is unfair and they will raise the issue of state funding of political parties. At this point we would draw your attention Dear Reader to an informative and intelligent article written by Dr Matthew Ashton, a politics lecturer at Nottingham Trent University back in June 2011: http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2011/11/06/analysis-state-funded-political-parties-pose-huge-problems Dr Ashton is of course correct in his assertion that the British People would be extremely leery of seeing any part of their taxes ending up in the coffers of political parties. However, the “chattering classes” are extremely powerful in this country. It is they who set the tone and timbre of political debate and opinion in this country. This is amply demonstrated when the Chameleon makes such outlandish statements as to [him] “feeling broody when seeing a baby” (Does he read Mills & Boon? – Ed.) Such statements are the Chameleon trying to show that he is a so called “new man” and not what the politically correct of Islington called “an unreconstructed misogynist” such as Your Editor is regarded as being by these people.

    A useful website to keep a check on how the “chattering classes” view this issue is the Lib Dem Voice website here: http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-electoral-funding-reform-is-vital-for-the-future-of-our-democracy-46286.html
    Clearly then, there is a problem and it is a problem that many British Gazette readers will be acquainted with in the sense that many will have experience of being a member at one time or another of a political party and sometimes turbulent and tempestuous relationships with extremely wealthy donors. To quote Monty Python, “Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more!”

    The FACT of the matter is this: this problem is going to be with us whatever way the Brexit vote goes. It therefore behooves us to consider how state funding of political parties might work based on this FACT: The British People do not want it!

    Thus ANY and EVERY consideration of the issue of funding politics (political parties and payments to politicians) in this country must take into consideration a fundamental and central problem: The mass of the British People. The FACTS are that bless their polyester socks, the BP want conflicting things!

    For instance:

    Many will want what are known as realistic prison sentences. This means that when a criminal is sentenced to 4, 8 or 16 years in prison that is the time in prison the criminal serves. If the criminal misbehaves whilst in prison time should be added to this. At the same time they would not want the judges to reduce the length of the prison sentences they hand out – which is something they would do if left to their own devices for when a judge imposes a sentence he or she does so on the basis that the offender will actually serve either a quarter or half this. Were the BP’s wishes implemented across the board – longer headline sentences and for this to be the time served the consequences for the prison population would be clear: we would rapidly reach the per capita levels in the US Criminal Justice system.

    Continuing with this scenario we would then have to address the questions of extra prisons and more money spent on them and inter-alia prisoners. Again the BP’s views are well known. They would be against it! Ask the average member of the BP what they would want to see any extra money spent on: a new hospital a new school or a new prison the answer will either be a hospital or a school. It will not be a prison!

    When confronted with the practicalities of increasing prison numbers but no increase in prison spending and the consequences of causing UK prisons to become like third world overcrowded squalid repositories many would reply: “Well if the criminals don’t like it they should not have committed the crime!”

    It is the same with politics: the BP do not want to see MPs paid much. They certainly do not want to see political parties get public money. Yet to maintain a democracy worthy of the name it is essential for the alternative is that we go back to the 19th Century when MPs are either individually wealthy or privately sponsored individuals.

    In other words, the BP want conflicting things.

    It therefore may well be the case that practical political consideration demands the solution of state funded political funding. How might such work?

    Well there are a couple of standard yardsticks (mete rule? Derek?) that can be used. One is the size of the popular vote recorded at elections. Here we would see a strange sight: Nigel Farage and UKIP agreeing with Natalie Bennett and the Green Party!

    Another yardstick however would be membership numbers.

    Along with state funding there are generally restrictions on individual and corporate donations.

    Herewith a possible suggestion:
    - Party political funding to become a devolved competence along with the registration and management of political parties.
    For England:
    - A statutory minimum annual contribution of £30 per annum for a political party.
    - A statutory maximum annual donation ceiling per member of £5,000 – anonymity optional.
    - A statutory maximum annual donation ceiling per non member (individual or corporate of £5,000) – publicly recorded.
    - A “base level” taxpayer funded contribution of £10 per member per annum. This would mean a political party with 100,000 members would receive £1,000,000 per annum.
    - A “multiplier” applied to the “base level” contribution based on the size of the popular vote at the last general election.

    Such a formula would reward parties with mass membership and also parties with a large popular vote. To get a good level of funding it would be necessary for a party to recruit and maintain a large membership base and also to ensure a good popular vote.

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