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The party funding scandal

One potential argument I can see brewing in the aftermath of the latest scandal surrounding the government – over party donations from dubious characters – is that this all “proves” the need for tax-funding of political parties. It does no such thing, of course. If parties receive funding from you and me, regardless of whether we vote for them or not – an outrageous impost – then existing parties will benefit at the expense of new, or yet-to-be-born, parties.

The best option remains that anyone, barring criminals or declared enemies of this nation, should be allowed to give whatever they want to any political party, period. The only proviso is that such donations be placed on the public record. If little green men from Mars want to donate to UKIP or Labour, I have no problem.

I might have a look at a bookie or spread-betting site to see what odds they give for Brown not making it for the rest of the parliamentary term. Might be worth staking a few quid that he will not surive.

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10 comments to The party funding scandal

  • would it notbe better if donations were completely anonymous, even to the parties themselves. so that not even they know where they money has come from. Then no-one would be able to claim that Mr Smith got a knighthood cos he gave money to the party, because the party would not know that it was him doing the giving.

    If I had a phenomenal amount of money and wanted to give it to a political party (fat chance) its nobody’s business but mine. If donations were completely anonymous to all parties, then no-one could claim that rich donors had undue influence and scandals such as those that have cropped up over the last year would not happen.

    If the little green man wants to give money to UKIP then I couldn’t give a monkey’s, and neither should UKIP.

  • Mandrill, how can you make sure that donations are anonymous?

  • I llike the intent of mandrill’s argument but cannot get my head around the mechanics of keeping yourself anonymous. Money in brown envelopes?

  • I think it would be enough that political culture at large encourage anonymous donations. If a handful of braggarts make clear that they gave huge sums of money to some party, but the majority of donations to that party are anonymous, it takes a bit of the sting out of their “bought influence” since it would be clear to the party in question that no single identifiable donor could make or break it.

    I don’t think it would be too hard to set up such a system, really. All that would be needed is a distinguished bank account into which people could make payments and their identities kept secret by the banker. No doubt they could be identified with the proper amount of effort by an investigator, but as I said, I think it is enough that the majority of donors remain anonymous. We don’t have to get fetishist about making sure that absolutely everyone in all cases donate in secret for the system to function.

  • ian

    Since politicians don’t support my hobbies, why should I support theirs?

  • RAB

    Let’s keep it real here.
    Nobody gives money to a political party out of the goodness of their heart, it is always about buying influence.
    The anonymous idea is superficially appealing, but I cant see it working,for as I said the whole point in giving is to gain influence.
    I favour people or businesses, Trade Unions too, giving as much as they like as long as there is a full list of all those doing the giving.
    Nothing dodgy or plainly designed to deceive, as this Abrahams affair obviously was.
    And certainly an absolute no to funding them with our money!

  • Midwesterner

    2nd RAB, 100%.

    Until we can develop a system that doesn’t run on ‘donations’ (aka extortion, pay for play, etc) the details of all donations must be fulling disclosed, preferably on the internet.

    Wisconsin state wide offices are pretty much bought and paid for by the government employee unions, lead by the teacher’s union. We recently had a handful of top legislative leaders from both parties serving time for ‘pay for play’, where they were shaking people down for money in order to ‘represent’ them. I guess it was (is?) government being sold at auction in Wisconsin.

    I doubt we’re at all unique.

  • Brian

    What we have here is not a party funding scandal (although Labour are successfully portraying it as one). It is a plain old-fashioned corruption scandal. The Labour party took bribes in return for planning permission. As a consequence, they are common criminals and belong in prison.

    There are no political principles involved.

  • tranio

    In Canada the max that you can contribute per year is $1,100 to party HQ and $1,100 to the local riding office.
    There are tax deductions. Also you cannot donate in someone else’s name. I tried to contribute for my wife with a cheque in my name. They sent it back.

  • tranio

    I should also add that in Canada only individuals can give to a political party, no companies, no unions anymore.