Ok as it’s rather topical at the moment I thought I would blog about it.  With the revelations over the weekend it has brought back in to the spot light that we probably do need to change the way our political parties are funded.  Something that has been mooted on a semi-regular basis and something that they attempted to introduce back in 2004, but was blocked by the Labour party.

Now I think that it has to happen, this latest story won’t go away until we see that there are going to be big reforms on the whole system.  There have been lots of ideas mooted, that it should be state funded with the amount parties get reflecting the number of the votes they got at the last election; giving 50p per vote.  So that would mean the big three parties got the following;-

  •        Conservatives £ 5,351,827
  •        Labour £ 4,303,258.50
  •        Liberal Democrats £ 3,418,124

Now although they are not huge amounts of money roughly £13million, I have to agree with both the stance of the Conservatives and the Liberal’s that in times of austerity when budgets are being cut to government departments diverting money to political parties would not go down well with the general public.  So I think funding via tax payers money is defiantly out.   

I think it should be up to the parties themselves to raise the money to do what they need through donations by individuals, companies or organisations or membership to the parties.  However this I think is where the reform is needed.  Currently there is no maximum limit on how much one person/organisation can give to a political party and this can lead to those in charge thinking that if someone gives a lot of money then they have to meet these people and wine and dine them.  This is not something exclusive to the Conservative party, as Labour did their fair share of it when in office.

At the moment any political party has to publish the names of anyone who donates more than £7,500 as a legal requirement.  I personally think this needs to go further; in that I would suggest that we introduce a maximum that any person or legal body could donate to any one political party per year.  This could be set at an affordable level of say £50,000 as opposed to the proposed £10,000 limit that has been touted about.  At this much it should eliminate the need for state funding on top.

I would also go as far as introducing a register for each party leader, ministers and shadow ministers that would have to list any meetings or other engagements where those who have donated more than the £7,500 would have to list them.  This register would list if it was an official event or a private event.  This would ensure transparency and would allow people to look to see if there has been possible influence on a person from a donor.

However I don’t think that this is all that has to happen, as it’s no good just knowing if a minister per say has been influenced by a donor alone; I think we also need to have a register of lobbyists as well that shows when they have meet people and where too.  As that would help bring back some credibility to British politics, and show the general public that politicians are accountable to them not just every five years at a general election but all the time through the access of public registers.