Political Party Funding

I give a very lukewarm welcome to Sir Hayden Phillips' suggestions about political party funding.

I accept the suggestion that there should be a cap on the maximum that any individual should be able to donate to a party.

In 1997 there was a suggestion that formula one racing was exempted from the ban on tobacco companies sponsoring sporting events as a result of a million being given by Bernie Ecclestone to Labour. The enquiry into cash for honours is still on going. Even if these accusations are unfounded the perception that donations buy influence is a good enough reason to prohibit large donations.

What I find unacceptable in Sir Hayden's recommendations is the idea that the shortfall in donations caused by the loss of the big givers should be compensated for by paying the political parties up to £23 million from taxation. £23 million is chickenfeed in comparison to the overall tax budget, but still, like all taxes it is money raised from individual taxpayers. Is it right to ask individual taxpayers to contribute from their earnings towards a political party that they abhor? I certainly don't want a penny of my earnings donated to the Labour Party and I would be sickened by the thought that even the slightest fraction of a penny of my money was to be given to the BNP. But this is what will happen if taxpayers are forced to finance political parties.

One of the reasons why the parties have been chasing the big money is because it is a lot easier to get 5 million from one individual than it is to get a fiver from a million individuals. But ensuring that the political parties have to chase the fivers would do much to re-connect the masses with the political process.

When I first became interested in politics garden parties, coffee mornings and jumble sales were an essential part of raising money for the cause. In those days the local candidate had to be present in each and every such fund-raising activity - this made the candidate more accessible to, and more accountable to, the people who organised and supported those activities. The opinions of the people who supported and organised those activities was also important and in being important influential.

I agree with capping donations, but I would much prefer to see politicians going back to the old system where they had to persuade me to support them financially rather than being forced to give them that financial support through my tax bill.

Cymraeg Hen Rech Flin: Ariannu Pleidiau Gwleidyddol

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