And nothing stays the same
And life is still
A simple game
(Moody Blues – Nothing changes)
Another scandal over funding political parties – it is now a game of equals – Tory, Labour and Lib Dems are all exposed. Funding of political parties in the UK remains mired in a 19th Century lack of principles.
It is not what you know or how good you are, it is down to what you are willing to pay. Political favouritism may not be quite so prone to nepotism, but in an age where money talks – where privilege is money-driven – the ability to pay gains political favour.
It may be OK for our top football clubs to be bought by the wealthy (we don’t care how they made their money – whether from the gangster-ridden break-up of the Soviet Union or from family-owned oil wealth), but it is not good enough for our political parties to be “bought” in the same way.
If today’s allegations concerning Peter Cruddas (over which he has just resigned as co-treasurer of the Conservative Party) mean anything at all, it is that, despite any other misgivings, large donations from whatever direction have to be curtailed. In the same way that our royals are paid through the civil list, our political parties need to be similarly driven with a basic payment that provides the ability to survive. Any top-up should be via small donations from individuals. No corporates nor trades unions nor other organisations should be allowed to contribute.
Our senior politicians (so lacking in the ability to reform themselves) need to make some real progress on party funding. With expenses scandals still sounding in our ears, our political system is too brittle to be allowed to deteriorate any further. A cross-party / non-party team needs to address the issues quickly – by the next election at the latest – and a result that kills off the crudest of funding techniques needs to be implemented for the trust in politics in the UK to start to rise again.