These figures speak for themselves. On the day Ed Miliband was elected, Unite donated £770,000 to the Labour party. In the first four days of Miliband’s leadership Labour received donations worth over £1m. Within a couple of days a further £230,000 was donated by CWU. Unions have donated a total of £8.4 million since Miliband was elected as party leader.
Perhaps this might be the reason why they have failed to provide effective opposition and point out that the Conservatives are in the pockets of big business. Since the general election, the Conservative Party have received more than half of their funding from businesses and individuals working in finance. Why has Labour not been shouting from the rooftops about this? I suspect because of the embarrassment of being so reliant on unions.
There is something seriously wrong with our politics. Just look at the top the Tory donors as an illustration:
- Michael Farmer – a City financier. Contributed a nifty £2.3 million to the Conservatives.
- Lord Stanley Fink – “The Godfather” of UK hedge funds.
- David Rowland – A multimillionaire property tycoon
Between the three of them they have contributed over £10 million to the Conservative party since 2005 alone.
This is why I support Sir Christopher Kelly, the chairman of the committee on standards in public life, who has proposed a £10,000 annual cap on donations. Sadly, all three parties rejected the proposals as politically untenable. Is this any surprise?
Once again, the big parties are blocking reform because it is not in their interests. We are left wondering if the big three parties represent us, the electorate or those that hold the purse strings.
One response to “The state we are in – political party funding, big business and the unions”
I believe there should be no donations at all; it’s a privilege only a few can afford, and therefore inherently plutocratic. Instead, use public money to fund the parties, based upon the number of votes each party has won.
This would have the added benefit of improving elections as it would discourage tactical voting, and encourage people to vote for parties even if they know their local politicians will not win a seat. It would jump start the democracy as parties would want to get as many voters out as possible. It is the most fair and proportional method.
Of course the Lord Ashcrofts and the Unions would resist this as much as possible. It would not bide well for the conservatives, since they are disproportionally funded relative to the vote percentage they win. Lib Dems would do well from it. Labour would probably secretly favour it since it would close the gap between Labour/Tory funding.
This would only work with massive public support; the parties would resist, not so much because they would want to, but because the special interest groups would put huge pressure on them to do so.
While there are refinements that could be made to the current system, I believe what I have outline above is the only truly fair and democratic method.