Tag Archives: Party funding

Labour’s misleading statement on electoral spending

Lab photo
The Labour Party today uploaded this photo to facebook with the inspiring campaigns cliche:

We don’t have the Tories’ money — so we’re going to win this election one conversation at a time. Be part of it: http://labour.org.uk/volunteer-pledge

In it’s literal sense this is true. Labour do not ‘have the Tories’ money’. Not a penny of Labour’s money (that I know of) belongs to the Conservative Party…but (and this is a big but) they do have rather a lot of their own.

Indeed, the latest party political donation figures show that they were given a huge £3,162,980 in the period of Oct-Dec 2013 alone. I should point that is a million less than the Conservative Party who received £4,805,892. 

But you take my point, neither of the big two political parties are exactly short of cash.

If the Labour Party win the next General Election it will be partly because of thousands of people who have donated hours of their lives to campaigning but it will also be because of the formidable amounts of money they have to put into the campaign (mainly coming from Trade Unions).

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats for the same period received £1,311,824 and The Green Party just £115,943. 

My question here is can we have a fair, open and educated democracy when some political parties have so much to spend on ‘getting their message across’ while others have so little?

I think not. That is why I have always supported the system of state funded political parties.

The Green Party hold what I think to be a very sensible policy on this:

The Greens believe that party funding should be calculated and administered on a regional basis, with funds allocated in proportion to the number of votes cast in the region in the last round of proportional representation elections held across the entire region. Parties would need to exceed a threshold of 3% of the vote to become eligible for this funding.

You will not be surprised to hear that both Labour and Conservatives have been feet dragging on this issue to say the least. Not surprising considering the size of their respective bank accounts.

 

*UPDATE: Before a Labour Party activist says it, there is of course a big difference between big private donors and Trade Unions. One is not as bad as the other. But I would argue that neither are healthy for politics.

Second UPDATE:

An interesting tweet that suggests I am not the only who feels like this:

 

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A response to Owen Jones on why lefties should join Labour (and not The Green Party)

I have only just read Owen Jones’ blog on why he thinks all lefties should back the common cause and get behind Labour.

I will let you read the whole blog and judge for yourself whether you are compelled by his arguments. In this blog I just wanted to take issue with one of the weakest sections of his blog – the “what about the Greens” section.

In this section Owen makes 4 points. In short:

  • The Greens’ vote is stagnating (re 2010 to 2005 vote share) – thus, they’re going nowhere.
  • His politics are based on class and the Labour movement – The Greens are not.
  • The Greens want to remove Trade Union influence from politics through funding reform.
  • Greens abroad have contributed to the austerity agenda.

Point one – He obviously missed the whole 2010 Green Party election strategy. In short it said lets “chuck everything we have at Brighton to see if we can break through this backwards political system” – you know the first past the post unrepresentative system that Labour promised to reform and then didn’t despite 13 years of majority government.

As a result of this strategy a lot of people within the Greens across the country felt let down because they didn’t get the support they wanted as the party focused its time, resources and money on Brighton.

For me though, the 2010 election was a really positive sign for the Greens. It showed the Greens had what it takes to be strategic and as a result they now have their first ever Green MP despite the electoral system (note this is something that UKIP failed to do – or come near to – despite an much more impressive showing at the 2009 EP elections).

Point two – The Greens have incredibly strong policies on worker’s rights (and then act on them). The Green Party has also made repeated attempts to reach out to the Trade Unions. In fact, I would be interested to hear what Green policies (or actions) Owen thinks are not supportive of a labour movement (note the small L Owen otherwise you’re just saying you support a political party no matter what).

Point three – What Owen fails to mention is that The Green Party are calling for (modestly) state funded politics to remove all big money donations from politics. Comparing some of the big money donations the Conservatives get to that of the Trade Unions is absurd – they are of course not the same. However, neither is Labour’s current model (that they are so desperate to hold onto) the right way forward for an open competitive democracy. Labour need to accept this and stop blocking cross party attempts at reform.

Point four – This made me laugh, implying that ‘left’ or ‘socialist’ political parties have not done this. Owen’s argument here is little more than a slur by association. Yes Greens have let many of their supporters down in Ireland and Germany but there are of course also positive examples of Greens internationally doing great work (think NZ for an example). The same can be said for Labour or Socialist parties.

So I finish with a note to Owen.

I am currently a member of The Green Party not because it is pragmatically useful but because they are, taken as a whole, the closest party to represent what I believe. The day that I leave the party is the day when one or two things happen. 1) They no longer fit the above criteria. 2) They cross a line on a single issue that I find so intolerable that I cannot stay within the party – a good example might be an illegal war that left over 100,000 dead.

And so I have to ask Owen, in what circumstances would you leave the Labour Party?

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The state we are in – political party funding, big business and the unions

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:

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.

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