If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 30 October 2011

State funding of political parties

I thought they had been quiet for a while. Now the idea has been taken out of the loft, dusted off and led blinking into the sunlight once more.
A huge increase in state funding of political parties, worth up to £100m over a five-year parliament, is being proposed by a government-commissioned inquiry.

The funding, which would be shared out according to the number of votes each party receives in a general election, would be presented as a way of compensating them for a huge loss of income as a result of introducing new caps on individual donations to parties. It would also be seen as a way of repackaging state funding that already goes to opposition parties.
The politicians want us to pay them to run their party machines. £3 per vote cast for them in an election, so that they are funded in proportion to their support in the electorate, which gives it a plausible veneer of fairness. No more corporations pouring millions into the Tory Labour Tory coffers, no more Trades Unions chucking their members' 'contributions' into keeping Prezza in pies for the year. We are to pay, whether we like it or not. Pay for the offices, and the chauffeur-driven cars, and the posh stationery, and the logos, and the conferences, and the 'advisers' and all the hangers-on, and all the up-and-coming careerists that have never had a real job and whom parties rely so much on for their bland and featureless battalions of wonks.

Well, let me say this:


There, that feels better.

Political parties ought to be illegal, being as they are a conspiracy against democracy. Let the miners elect an MP to represent miners; let the farming communities elect an MP to represent farmers; let the inner-city media types elect an MP to represent inner-city media types; let the 'travellers' elect an MP to represent the static caravan community; let the rural retired colonels elect an MP to represent all the old buffers in the shires; and let them all fight it out in the House of Commons. That's how it should be. Let them elect one person from their ranks who commands the most support and call him or her Prime Minister and, let's be generous, give that person a secretary to manage the diary. Done.

We all elect who we want to represent us, and those people fight our corner for us in the proper place, and let the best person of non-specific gender win. No MP is beholden to anyone but the people who elect him or her. That's fair, and that's democracy.

Giving political parties a legal right to put their hands in our pockets is a recipe for corruption, special pleading and - what is worst of all - more of the same shite that we have been putting up with from them for the last 50 years.

They just don't get it, do they?

Typical distraction burglary.


  1. Richard,

    Interesting thoughts. I have to agree that politicians have nobody's interests at heart but their own. We need some form of government, but, in America at least, we need a bit of thought and revision on the subject. I think we lost sight of the objective.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  2. The logic in favour of state funding for political parties is quite simple.

    First, the problem. The people as a whole have largely decided that they do not wish to spend their money supporting political parties, as shown by the dramatically falling membership of all the parties. That is to say, the people have exercised their free will to not fund the parties.

    The solution, therefore, is obvious. The money must be taken from them by force whether they consent or not.



    Yes, that pretty well sums up how I feel.

  3. Patently sums it up - the people have exercised their free will to not fund the parties.

    "NO, SORRY, YOU CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF." - thirded.

  4. Brady, I think we lost sight of that long ago. Political parties are now (according to them) a necessary bastion of public rights and interests, and a 'good thing' in and of themselves. I don't think this would apply in the US, but here we have many politicians who have never held down a real job, but gone from University (politics degree) to party researcher to 'adviser', and then parachuted in to a safe seat as an MP. Result: a lot of lawmaking based on theory and good intentions, and not much practical experience. Our wonderful Gordon Brown, for example: the nearest thing he had to a real job was lecturing for a brief period (Politics, at Glasgow Tech). Without the Labour Party, he could never have entered politics, still less become PM, and rightly so; the man was a nutjob.

    Patently, on the ball as always. No such thing as a free market in politics - they want to rig it in their favour, like everything else.

  5. Joe - can I fourth your thirding?

  6. The first thought that sprang to mind was that this idea, were it to be implemented, could lead to a massive and countrywide voting abstention. They would have to introduce compulsory voting to avoid that possibility and therein lies perdition.
    Considering our almost universal contempt for today`s politics and its practioners I imagine that a " don`t vote for the bastards " movement would catch the public`s zeitgeist. Interesting times lie ahead.

  7. It has been suggested to me on Twitter that we set up the "refund party", the only policy of which would be to refund to each party member the £3 gained from their vote.

    I think this would be an excellent idea, were it not for the risk we might win a landslide victory and then have to govern. Mind you, at least we'd have a free hand.

  8. You're right there. If people associated the funding with the number of votes cast, it's not ridiculous to say that this now means that voting costs money. Election turnouts are lower than ever - and they think this will help? I doubt if they would risk compulsory voting, though. Brits value their right to sit there and do nowt, and would run to the barricades to protect that right :) It simply wouldn't work. My feeling is that the pols will just accept 30-40% turnouts and spin it some way, the same way that Blair could spin his 21% (35% share x 61% turnout) of those eligible to vote in 2005 as a "huge rebirth of our party". After all, they don't care a toss what we think now, so what would be different?

  9. Above comment was in reply to bakko - your missive was incoming as I was writing :)

    I like the idea of a refund party. In fact, I think a landslide would be in order. And, as you say, you would then have 5 years to put things right. Much to do, but 5 years could accomplish a lot, especially if you arranged things so that they were hard to reverse.


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