Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Money for nothing?

You know, I had no idea that the Labour Party was so reliant on one union for a quarter of its funding and that over one hundred Labour MPs are members of that union - Unite. I can't help feeling that there is something rotten about that.

That the governing party should be so dependent on one organisation and appears to reward that organisation with parliamentary seats and cabinet posts would cause outrage if that organisation were a private enterprise. Imagine if the Tories were dependent on BaE for a quarter of its funding and went on to stuff its front benches with BaE management - there would be outrage from the left (and from me too).

I just hope the mainstream parties don't use this as an excuse to resurrect the idea of public funding for political parties. I'm sure they will try, but there is no justification for this whatsoever. We should, however, have strict rules on funding for political parties - the first of which being that all donations to a political party must be from individual British subjects using their own money and capped at £50,000 per year. There should be nu funding from corporations - whether private enterprises or public bodies.

I also want to see and end to corporate political lobbying - again, regardless of whether it comes from a private corporation, a national union or trans-national NGO. I have no problem with the principle of a corporation - regardless of its nature - writing to their local MP, but they have no right to the ear of government just because they are large and powerful. That goes against the grain of democracy.

Above all, political parties must start to live within their means and only spend what they can afford to spend. If this means they have to get out on the streets to get their message across instead of relying on expensive and flashy television adverts then that has to be good. Perhaps then we can start to have a proper political debate instead of a media directed one.

These organisations are not handing over great wads of cash to the main political parties for nothing. They do it because they expect to gain something out of it. I just think that is plain wrong in a democracy - and it ought to be stopped.

1 comment:

Antisthenes said...

I have always known that there were MPs sponsored by unions but not to this extent it means 16% of the influence of parliament is controlled by those that represent only 7% of the electorate, probably considerably less as a lot of Unite members will not be Labour voters. This wants sorting out, what sort of democracy do we live in; Rotten boroughs were considered a disgrace is this any less so?