It does warm the cockles of one’s heart to read a lede like this:
Political parties are so small they are “nearing critical condition” in many constituencies, a survey suggests.
Of course there is an agenda accompanying this report from an organisation calling itself Unlock Democracy. UD is a joint project of Charter 88 and the New Politics Network, and their aims are far from pure:
Revitalise local political parties through targeted state funding – Political parties are fundamental to our political system and should be funded in ways that encourage political participation and activism at a local level.
The group cannot seem to keep broken links (which are supposed to lead to their own project sites) off of their main website, but they do manage to get governmental ‘support’ for their People and Politics Day. (I have contacted the New Politics Network to ask what form that ‘support’ takes, and await a response.) The day boasts speeches from Tory chairman Francis Maude, Theresa May, various Lib Dem and Labour politicians, and even the leader of UKIP. Exhibitors include the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, British Union of Anti-Vivisectionists, and the League Against Cruel Sports.
So the good news is that political parties face death. The bad news is, there are people who are trying to keep them alive, and getting governmental support to do so. The surprising news is…nowhere to be found.
UPDATE: New Politics Network’s press officer, James Graham, responded to my query about whether or not taxpayer money is funding this event:
The Electoral Commission, DCA and PEU are indeed financially supporting the event. I don’t have the exact figures in front of me but they have contributed around £17k in total, two-thirds of which comes from the Commission. I hasten to add that we are not making any money out of this project and it is currently just about breaking even.
Well, that makes it okay, I guess! (Not.)