Sunday, 30 October 2011

No, No, No

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is in charge of party political reform.  When he unexpectedly found himself in a position of power within the Coalition government, he was anxious to facilitate reform and asked the Committee on Standards in Public Life, chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly, to re-examine the subject.

A draft report was presented last month but the parties are drafting proposed amendments this weekend.

Amendments to what?  A cap of £50,000 on individual donations is proposed along with £3 per vote which would, based on the last election results, see the Tories receiving £32m, Labour £25.8m and the LibDems £20.4m and this could be higher if tax relief is added.

Of course the Libdems are cock-a-hoop about the proposal because they achieved many more votes than expected by promising there would be no students fees. Some promise.  Not only will Nick Clegg be happy with this report, he's finally managed to acquire seven new advisors at a cost of £500,000, because he considers the Libdems are under-represented in Whitehall.

Like this fellow blogger I'm completely against this proposal. I would go further though and do away with the party system.  As she says we need representatives not parties. Last week's whipping in the EU referendum vote let the people see how party leaders control their members who, once many they enter Westminster, forget their allegiance is to their electorate.  If parties are necessary they should be on a basis of left, right or centre, so those of similar opinions can group for specific reasons. Candidates should fund themselves and publish their accounts online on a weekly basis.  I have no problem with a candidate managing to raise over £10,000 if there is a £50 donation cap.

Postal votes, which have proved over and over again to be wide open to corruption, should be radically reduced and only provided for those who provide written medical evidence of the inability to attend a poling station.

The three party system has been detrimental to minor party and independent candidates who are unable to raise the massive sums accumulated by the party machines.  There have been only 10 elected since 1950.  Surely this shows the disproportionate influence of party machines.

I've placed a small Poll on the right hand side should anyone wish to record their opinion on this latest recommendation. My response is in the title.


Hamish said...

I agree that the party system should be abolished, but I go further. I believe that parliamentary democracy is now obsolete. With universal education, with press, radio and TV covering the whole country, and with the new factor of the internat, we don't need reperesentative democracy anymore.
This is already evident at Council level, where the Chief Executive and other Council officers pretty well run the show. The Councillors are increaingly irrelevant. When did you last see a Council dabate reported fully in the press or broadcast live?
Worse, when the Councillors are called upon to represent the will and wishes of the citizens, they manifestly fail to do do.

Hamish said...

[After some failed attempts to comment over the past week, I see that my comment of 11.22 appeared. Not sure what I did right this time. Probably a fault at my end.]Ad rem, may I add this to my previous comment. I do not support state funding of political parties.

However, I think that Royal Mail should provide ALL candidates with free delivery of election literature. I think local authorities should make their premises available free of charge for hustings open to ALL candidates.
Sure, this provision is not free. We all pay the bill through our taxes. But I think it is fairer to indepndents, small parties, and parties which didn't stand last time.

Brian said...

Remember the pledge in the Coalition Agreement to introduce legislation for a recall procedure? The latest timescale from Ministers is before Christmas :-) and we all know what that means.
I would be in favour of more funding of political parties provided it was passed by a referendum of the people paying for it, but then I want referendums to approve every penny of government spending.

Joe Public said...

The greatest Political Reform would be to insist that every Manifesto, Party Political Broadcast, or, promise made on the Hustings, comply with Advertising Standards to be Legal, Honest & Truthful.

Joe Public said...

A comment by 'patently' on "Going fast, getting nowhere" sums it up:-

"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."

And, I agree wholeheartedly with the response, which is as given in Arkell vs Pressdram

English Pensioner said...

I'm totally opposed to public funding of political parties.
Among other reasons is the fact that Party HQs could impose a candidate on a constituency, on the basis "if you don't have our nominee, you don't get any money". That was a problem at the last election, a constituency near here wanted a local candidate, HQ wanted to parachute in one of their bright young things. How many of the Tory Eurosceptics who voted against Cameron would get funds at the next election?
I could possibly accept constituency funding; a sum allocated to an official who would pay approved bills from all the candidates up to a certain level. At least this would give minority parties a more equal chance.

DougtheDug said...

Political parties are not part of the Civil Service and are in fact private associations.

State funding of political parties is for parties who simply don't have the membership or enough individual donors to function. In other words state funding is for failed parties.

They should sort out the donations to ensure single individuals or organisations don't have undue influence but if a political party can't survive without state funding it's not viable and should be allowed to fail.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

All political parties should be publicly funded from a budget set by the public auditor for all parliamentary costs (including MPs salaries, expenses allowances, election costs etc.,) set for the term of the government and subject to the percentage of votes cast as opposed to the full register of voters.This may encourage them to enthuse the electorate rather than amortise their apathy.

A major factor in the repercussions of the financial meltdown is the ability of conglomerate interests to 'fund' or more accurately buy the politicians to favour their interests.

Obviously there would be a need for some measure of proportionality to prevent rank chancers winging it for profit, but that's a minor issue compared to the corporate elite being able to fund their favoured party into office.

Such a measure may only be a small scrape in levelling the field of democracy but lead on to an avalanche for the well-being of the nation.

subrosa said...

Pleased to see you're able to comment again Hamish. I've tried to make it easier.

Yes I'd agree with you about council level. Councillors appear to be PR folks these days rather than people who have the ability to take direct action.

Some years ago I had a meeting with my then councillor and the head of a council department. The councillor was there to support me I thought, but within minutes I realised the HoD and her had already agreed to the HoD's decision.

Eventually I walked out in anger and hopefully with a little dignity.

subrosa said...

Also agree with your second post Hamish.

subrosa said...

Jings Brian, I'd forgotten about that. I disagree with you because I don't think taypayers' money should be used to support political parties. That makes it far too easy and all that will do is turn the present two party system into a three party one, until the libdem's vote is reduced at the next GE.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that link Joe. I did read Richard's post but it wasn't published until mine was finished.

Hope others read it.

subrosa said...

Another excellent point against this proposal EP.

subrosa said...

Yes they are Doug, but they may put themselves under the 'private' enterprise banner which the likes of Scottish Enterprise support. Somehow they'd get round it if they saw -which they obviously do - big money involved.

I'm still of the opinion that it should be the individual who raises their financial support and not through a party machine.

Perhaps then we would have people with more of a commitment to serving their electorate and less to improving their career.

subrosa said...

The problem I see with that idea is that I wouldn't trust it to be introduced in a manner which is fair and balanced Crinkly.

petem130 said...

We, in Scotland, have an opportunity to change party politics. The SNP stand for Independence and once that is achieved they will have to re-invent themselves. The whole system should be reinvented.

Voting should not just be a once every 4-5 year thing. Voting should happen much more often. MPs/MSPs/MEPs should take their lead from the constituency.

There is a good argument that voting should be compulsory. It might make all debates more inclusive.

Localism is the answer. Good quality local leadership with the population engaged. The party system adds nothing as things stand.

The politicians are increasingly aware of this. Their response might be interesting although irrelevant.

subrosa said...

Ye we do Petem and that ought to be discussed also.

Perhaps between us we could do a couple of posts sometime. :)

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