Saturday, April 08, 2006

The POWER of party funding

Very interesting discussion over on Strange Stuff on party funding and the Power report, one I've been planning to write about but, as usual, not got around to finishing reading the damned report.

Essentially, I'm not sold on state funding of parties, and prefer instead a mixture of campaign spending caps and free access to more media in a less regulated manner; "party election broadcasts" are dull as ditchwater, but at least they're equitable, let's update and improve upon that model so that parties don't need to spend as much on gimicky adverts, posters, etc.

Alternately, don't give the money to parties directly, book the advertising space centrally, pay for it centrally, and share it out as per PEBs (which are determined by number of candidates fielded and thus fairly allotted to new parties as well).

If we go for state finance directly to parties (and I'd prefer we didn't), it has to be on something similar to the POWER model, wherein we, when voting, also tick a box to allot £3 or similar to a particular party, not necessarily the one we're voting for.

Better that than dodgy loans and party treasurers begging the rich for cash. But better to change the system such that they don't need to send out the begging bowl, in any form.


Tristan said...

State funding of political parties is a very dangerous route to go down.
It in effect puts the state in control of political parties and what they say, it restricts the opportunities for new parties or local parties harming democracy.

For similar reasons the US libertarians are opposed even to a cap on funding and spending, it hands more control the the established political elite.
Whilst I don't go as far as them (there is the danger of people buying influence) they do make a good case.

We do need totally open funding of parties, but it should always be up to the individual to choose whether they give money to a party and it should be given directly, not through taxation.

Perhaps the threshold of disclosure should be lowered and all loans and their terms disclosed.

Then again when you have a government which can act in a way that companies would be taken to the cleaners for, why do we expect political parties to behave any better?

Gavin Ayling said...

One reason I would never join a union is their funding of Labour.

Paying taxes which then funded not only Labour but also the BNP and the Socialist Workers would make me want to stop paying tax (more than I already do).

The current government is not exactly reasonable, either. Imagine them in charge of allocating, or being able to withdraw allocation of, funds from a party which, for example, did well in a particular area (England).

MatGB said...

Tristan; pretty much agree, but am not sure the juggernaut is going to be stoppable, I sense a stitch up on the way.

Hence, if they're going to stitch it up, argue for a system that is at least equitable.

Gav; I oppose any govt allocation of funds to parties. Utterly. Like I said, I'd prefer to just keep it to member supported subscriptions. But if state money is to go to parties, let us choose how, not them.

Any news on where Cameron is headed on the issue? I know that, unlike the LibDems, Tories don't have much direct say in policy, but I'd hope they keep you informed?