PARTY FUNDING REFORM
Why do we have to reform our party funding model?
Buying high office or parliamentarians is illegal in the UK, yet the practice of donating large sums of money to political parties is legal even though it is impossible to know if these donations are honest offerings or straightforward bribes.
What we do know is that governments often promote policies that seem to do very little for the public, while, in many instances, proving very beneficial for those who have made large donations to their party.
When such instances occur they may well be coincidental, but if we are to endorse the current system it must demonstrate that it is 100% capable of proving its propriety. This it cannot do. For this reason, and because political corruption is a most serious issue, we cannot allow party funding to continue in its current form.
We must make it near impossible for any party to corrupt our political system with inducements. The only way to achieve this is by making the current practice of party funding illegal, and instead fund our politics from general taxation.
Detailed reform principles
A – The only political parties and independent candidates that will receive funding will be those who achieve a minimum number of votes in a general election. This system ensures that only serious political contenders will receive public funding as it is entirely unacceptable for those engaging in humour politics to be awarded taxpayers money.
B – The maximum amount of money that can be reclaimed by a political party or independent will be proportional to the number of votes they receive in a general election. There will also be a maximum funding cut off point that will invariably create parity between the two largest political parties in the UK.
C – All political parties and independents will be required to self fund in the first instance. Once the general election is concluded all qualifying parties will be able to recoup their election expenditures and funding for the following parliamentary term, issued each year in annual installments.
D – It will become illegal for any political party, individual parliamentarian or independent candidate to obtain any other form of funding outside of that provided through general taxation.
Why should our taxes be used to fund political parties?
This argument has been deliberately and emotionally stoked by certain parliamentarians who are keen to whip up anti-public sentiment against it. The reason they have steered this course is not because they lie awake at night worrying about how much taxpayers money is being spent, but rather because they prefer an opaque system of funding that creates a tilted playing field: the current system.
The truth is that we have a choice to make and the choice is simple. Either we want open, clean, fair, democratic and meritocratic politics or we don’t. If we want open and fair then we must fund it, and be proud to do so knowing that what we are sanctioning may well be the most valuable purchase our nation has ever made. It is entirely unrealistic to expect “public first” politics when the entire political system is being funded by those whose demands can only be serviced if a “public second” position is adopted.
It should also be remembered that whenever a political system is corrupted by big money the cost to the taxpayer is not zero; quite the opposite. The whole point of someone attempting to corrupt politics is to buy political support and take more money for themselves. This routinely adopts the form of laws that effectively tap into the taxpayer in a variety of imperceptible ways. In the end it is entirely possible, if not extremely likely, that corruptions of this kind will actually cost the taxpayer more.
Furthermore, the costs associated with this funding model, in terms of our national GDP, amount to a very, very, very small investment that will, in any case, be recouped by Lords reform, and by reforming the overly generous MP packages we currently have no influence over.
Why not simply reduce the amount of money each person can donate each year?
If this system was implemented it would be considered unfair by any party that has a lower membership and/or relies on donations of a larger size. If party funding reform is to be sustainable it must not have the effect of disadvantaging one party over another, given their individual circumstances.
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