Sunday, March 25, 2012

Can anyone tell me what comes next...?

So, the Tory Party Treasurer has resigned after being caught promising to get donors into "the Cameron/Osborne dinners" for £250,000.
Prime Minister David Cameron has criticised the party's former treasurer for boasting that a big enough donation could lead to high-level access.

He said Peter Cruddas' claims, filmed by undercover Sunday Times reporters, were "completely unacceptable". Mr Cruddas quit hours after publication.

The PM pledged a "party inquiry" into the claims that £250,000 would get donors a private dinner with him.

And quite right.

Because anyone who is willing to pay a penny to have dinner with that massively-foreheaded shit or his rat-nibbled-nosed Chancellor needs their head examined.

Besides, anyone who thinks that Cameron would keep any promise made at that time also needs to get a fucking grip. The man is a shifty, dishonest little bastard.
Mr Cruddas had been secretly filmed saying that a donation of £250,000 gave "premier league" access to party leaders, including private dinners with Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, and with any feedback on policy shared with Downing Street.

Donors get an input into policy, eh? Well, that's nice. But, as Douglas Carswell indignantly tweeted...
DouglasCarswell: An input into policy making? I thought that is why I stood for election. Where are the MPs in the policy unit?

No, Douglas: what you are there for is as lobby-fodder. Now shut up and toe the damn party line, or you'll be getting deselected, sunshine.

This is an argument that I will develop in another post sometime, but I actually have little objection to rich individuals* paying for access to party policy-makers. It seems only fair, since the poor and middle-class have far greater numbers: as we have seen from all the outrage at "the rich" being thrown a bone in the budget, people in this country would happily vote for "the rich" to pay for the plebs' every whim.

Having rich individuals paying for access to the top party echelons simply redresses the balance a bit: otherwise, the politicians—pandering to their electorate—would pander to the worst desires of their electorate, i.e. vote for us and we'll give you loads of shit, and make someone else pay for it (admittedly, that is modern democracy in a nutshell, but it could be worse).

No, what I am concerned about is the greater implications. When they came to power, the Coalition promised an "agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding", and we all know what that means, don't we?

State-funding of political parties is what it means.

Although Nick "wet dishcloth" Clegg has supposedly ruled out state funding for this Parliament, we all know that all three parties are just itching to get their hands on some of that lovely tax-payer cash.

How do we know this?

Well, because they told us last time state funding of political parties raised its head—back in 2006 (lots of swearing)—and all three major parties were in favour of it.

The trouble is, neither NuLabour nor their Change Coalition successors have worked out how to get around the outrage from the general public. The trouble with funding scandals is that the populace's response is, "well, the politicians have once again proved that they are crooks: why the hell would we want to give them more of our money?"

So, watch out for the next move...

UPDATE: well, that didn't take long...

* Corporations, however, are another matter entirely...


Anonymous said...

State-funding of political parties? Surely they'd never get away with that?

…Zaph said...

State funding of parties, if introduced, would of course only go to parties that achieve a certain percentage of the vote (wouldn't do to give the EVIL BNP state money, would it?) thus entrenching the big three even more at the expense of UKIP, independents and anyone else who fancies challenging the status quo.

Aside of course from the fact that it's a fruitbat insane idea and deeply fucking wrong, of course.

alan said...

State funding yes or no? Wrong question IMHO. In the 21st century why do political parties need ANY donations/funding?

Imagine a new political party is created in the post internet world.

Volunteers (who get paid nothing) tweet and blog (which costs nothing).

Video gets produced using the volunteers own equipment now that camera's and PC's have become ubiquitous.

Ad revenue is generated by the blogs, youtube videos etc. providing a small amount of cash needed for the occasional legitimate expense.

Communication costs are so close to zero that money is not needed. Skype for example.

Broadcasting live costs nothing using the many free (or ultra cheap) streaming sites.

We already have laws which give political parties free airtime on the BBC during the election period.

It used to cost a small fortune to print flyers and have them delivered. Costs organising meetings & discussing issues have disappeared. Producing video (just the camera alone) was hugely expensive.

Its not like they hire Phd statisticians to get their facts straight. They prefer mistruths to prove their point. If laws were introduced to sanction politicians who abuse statistics then they might need to hire researchers & fact checkers.

Can anyone think of a major (legitimate) expense a political party needs to fund in today's digital world?

(Yes, currently not all of the population has gone digital. But that is changing.)

Devil's Kitchen said...


Having tried pretty much that strategy with LPUK, there are two big expenses I can think of:

1) The deposits. £500 is not an inconsiderable sum (even with our debased currency) for an individual; and, for a party, you need about £325,000 to stand a candidate in every seat.

2) Administration. You wouldn't believe that amount of regulations and, thus, paperwork. One way or another, we were needing to send a report to someone—using the Electoral Commission—at least one report a month.

But yes, political parties could do with a lot less funding, frankly.


alan said...

DK. Good points.

What was/is the point of the deposit? If political parties moved to a zero funding methodology then a different method could be used (dont know exactly what metric could be used - no of twitter followers? - half joke)

Admin. Should have guessed no-one is immune to the powers of bureaucracy....

How much of the admin is needed in a zero funded political system? If the regulations remained high then specific funding to only cover regulatory compliance wouldn't be too onerous.

The idea of zero funding has only be possible in the last 5? yrs.

With a few tweaks to the system could zero funding be plausible? What would be the downside?

Nigel Sedgwick said...

As I understand it, the purpose of the deposit in elections is to avoid, as far as is practical, trivial candidates. For election to the House of Commons and in each constituency, the loss of deposit arises if the candidate receives less than 5% of the votes cast.

In the last general election, the total national turnout was 65% and UKIP (the 4th party) received 3.10% of the votes and no seats. Having scanned the list rather quickly, I think UKIP lost their deposit in most constituencies and the Liberal Democrats did not lose it in most constituencies.

The percentages of votes (and seats) received by the main three parties was: CON: 36.05% (306), LAB: 28.99% (258) and LD: 23.03% (57). Interestingly, other parties received 29 seats; this with a maximum of the overall votes received by any one of those parties being 1.90% (BNP, no seats) and 1.66% (SNP, 6 seats). The total percentage of votes for other parties (than the top 4) was 8.83%. Obviously, there is evidence that regional parties do better in their regions; they also win seats because of this.

It strikes me that the current rules on deposits go somewhat against the spirit of democracy. There are clearly bona fide political parties that receive significantly less than 5% of the vote and some of those parties do get their candidates elected (though mainly for 'regional reasons').

IMHO, a better scheme could be established, to not discourage greater political activity than does the current scheme. It would be better if there were perhaps a dual scheme. If a party exceeds the national threshold, none of its deposits are lost. If any candidate receives above the threshold within the constituency they stand in, that constituency deposit is not lost.

Bearing in mind that the purpose of the deposit and threshold is to reduce the number of trivial candidatures, and most trivial candidatures are personal in nature and within a single constituency, such a dual scheme would seem to be desirable.

And I have to say that there is no triviality in the existence of UKIP, BNP, the Green Party or any of the main regional parties - no matter how much one might disfavour their policies.

There is the additional question: is it reasonable to support (the validity of) a candidature even though one does not wish to vote for that candidate oneself? If so, and I most certainly think it is so, the loss of constituency deposit solely on the basis of constituency votes cast (at least in a FPTP vote) is not right.

And one final question: what is the deposit policy for elections to the EU parliament in the UK? Well, I can tell you it is 2.5% for each party list in the constituency and the deposit is £5,000 for each of the 12 constituencies. Thus the total deposit at risk in EU elections in the UK is £60,000; this compares to £325,000 for HoC elections. Is this right too?

Best regards