The latest news from the Electoral Commission has exposed the parlous state of the main parties’ finances (Tory / Labour).  It’s easy to understand why – with such debts – the party leaders are conspiring against the public to increase state funding of political parties.  A new website has been launched by former Tory MP Phillip Oppenheim – – to make the case for parties to reconnect with grassroots sources of funding.  The website includes an excellent list of bullet point reasons to oppose increased state funding:

  • "It is wrong in principle to force people to pay through taxation for parties they may not support
  • The majority of the parties’ central campaign spending goes on billboards, political consultants and telephone canvassing – more state funding would increase this type of unnecessary expenditure.

  • Public funding would tend to entrench existing major parties at the expense of newcomers
  • There is already existing, generous taxpayer provision for the political parties
  • Even more taxpayer money would make the parties even more insulated from the public
  • Having to go out and raise money from the public on a voluntary
    basis might just make the parties more responsive and responsible –
    after all, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds manages to
    raise more than £50m a year from the voluntary subscriptions of its one
    million members, more than all of the political parties combined
  • In previous eras, when people were less cynical of politicians, the
    main parties boasted huge memberships – they should be seeking to win
    these people back voluntarily rather than taking their money
  • Public funding would lead to bigger, more entrenched party bureaucracies
  • Public funding would increase the tendency towards a professional
    political class, increasing numbers of politicians who have never done
    a job outside the world of politics as more generous public funding
    would create even more cosy, insulated posts for aspiring politicos to
    begin their careers
  • Party PR machines would increase, cranking up levels of spin and ultimately further reducing public trust
  • Other countries with large public provision for political parties
    have seen negative effects and no reduction in corruption – France and
    Germany have some of the most generous public funding and some of the
    worst political corruption scandals."

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