Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Party Funding II

I wrote about party funding on the 14th of July, here.

Labour set up a commission to look into the issue headed by Sir Hayden Phillips, whose website, www.partyfundingreview.gov .uk can be found here.

The review has published it's interim report which is available here.

On page 12 Sir Hayden Phillips says this:

"Finding a consensus on a new way forward for party funding will not be easy. The reform of party funding is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve the wider benefit of improving the quality of democracy. From the reaction the Review has received so far, I believe that the achievement of a good measure of cross-party agreement would be welcomed by the public. For that reason alone the process of the Review must be openly explained and not perceived as a private agreement only in the interests of the established political parties. Achieving agreement will require not just facilitation but an act of political will, including a readiness to accept that no one party will necessarily be able to achieve all of its objectives."
Which is interesting given this report in the Guardian, by Patrick Wintour their political editor. According to his information Labour are looking to bring forward legislation early next year to deal with the party funding issue regardless of the position of the other parties. This of course has many dangers associated with it not the least of which will be a battle Royal in the Lords.

Labour need to work on the basis of consensus on this one. It would be bad for democracy and indeed Labour if they don't.

What seems clear is that Labour are worried. They have £23 million in outstanding loans and it looks like they are going to have trouble paying them off. According to this report from the BBC it also appears that the Conservatives owe huge amounts as well, in fact £33.5 million. Mind you the Conservatives do not seem worried by this. Labour are also concerned that out side of the spending limit window the Conservatives are getting their campaigns in marginals going. This strikes me as a bit false as I am sure Labour were doing the same between 1992 and 1997.

It must be remembered that the reasons why people are being turned off politics is because they don't trust the parties. If you read Private Eye you will see why. Paying for some fringe event at the Labour party conference gets you on the platform, speaking with a minister and the appearance that you have just bought influence. If you add to this the Powder Ject issue you can see why people don't trust Labour.

All political parties need to re-engage with voters. This won't happen if every time some one ones to speak to the public a bunch of pratts from other parties turn up to heckle. That needs to stop.

Also state funding of political parties will go down like a lead balloon. It already happens, but the public don't know so don't care. If there is more state funding they may go bananas.

Hat tip to Jon on politicalbetting.com for the link to the Guardian story.


Ellee said...

But why are they so in debt? Surely they have to make their books budget like any other business. If they expect the NHS to balance its books, why can't they?

Benedict White said...

That apparently is the 59 million pound question is it not.

The answer seems to be that they are doing it!

A cap on spending would help that.