Paying for our politics
The news that all three major political parties in England and Wales expressed unhappiness at the Report into Party Funding which came out today will not be a surprise to anyone who has followed their recent activities.
For Labour we have Mr Blair and his cash for honours, where wealthy men paid the Labour Party vast sums of money so they could sit in the House of Lords. We also have a long record of union bosses toadying up to Labour too. Giving them millions from their unaware members. Odd they continue to do this - they have achieved so little for all their donations. Bernie Ecclestone gave them a million and they dropped the plan to remove tobacco advertising from Grand Prix cars. So it works - for the rich.
The Liberals used to be reasonably squeaky clean on this issue - but that was in the days before convicted fraudster Michael Brown gave them £2 million. Having squirmed and wriggled and not returned the money, they stand as sheepishly as a shepherd caught en flagrante with a sheep.
Then there are the Tories.......Who receive vast sums from their chums in the City and who have done bugger all to rein in the Bankers. Who receive enormous amounts from corporate funders who avoid paying their taxes in the UK. Who are fighting the imposition of a Robin Hood tax because their mates don’t like it even though it would help ease our problems significantly. Who have in their cabinet a bunch of millionaires who like to get up close and personal to the wealthy and barking such as the right wingers and arms dealers met by Mr Fox and his chum Werritty. So they get their offices paid for. And staff. And travel. All out of the goodness of their hearts - bless!
Our democracy is broken.
Relying on this present bunch of venal, short-sighted, undemocratic bubble-dwellers to do anything constructive is a non-starter.
The idea that we should pay for political parties seems wrong. Why should we pay for the likes of Alistair Campbell, Derek McBride and Andy Coulson, to do their dirty work smearing and bullying decent folk, suppressing truth and being an affront to transparency?
Go back to basics. Parties to rely on the subscriptions of their members to fund party workers etc. No membership to be more than £100 , with the vast majority fixed at £10. To get that money they would have to get out and about and actually meet real people. Go ‘on the knocker‘ as it used to be called, and involve people from the ground up. They would also have to cut their garment according to their cloth. It may even persuade some of the bubble-dwellers that they have better things to do with their time than meeting real people with real issues.
So goodbye Special Advisers, goodbye ‘researchers‘ and ‘interns‘ and hello root, branch and stem democracy. Welcome back a beefed-up civil service who forego the ‘not one of us‘ approach beloved of Thatcher and who put the needs of the country first.
Pie in the sky? Maybe - but it would be a damn sight better than what we have now.