According to BBC Online Sir Hayden Phillips – commissioned by the Government to look into the funding of political parties – has set out four scenarios for the future of public funding:
- minimal change
- increased transparency
- a cap on donations and
- greater levels of public funding.
Francis Maude’s response focuses on Labour’s union dependency:
“We agree with the direction of Sir Hayden Phillips has set out thinking and will consider his options with care. It’s clear that, if public funding for political parties is to increase, political parties must tackle the perception that donations can buy influence or favours. That’s why we support a cap on donations. The ball is now in Labour’s court. For years the public has suspected that trade union cash buys Labour policy. It’s now time Labour severs its financial links with the trade unions. Tony Blair’s position is so weak he cannot do this. So the pressure is on Gordon Brown to decide what is more important: cleaning up politics, or keeping the trade union bosses happy and Labour’s coffers full?”
All of the political parties are facing serious financial problems and are going to take any taxpayers’ money they can to ease their financial problems. Most voters object to any more state funding of political parties – particularly if it reinforces the detachment of political elites from grassroots members and local voices.