Take the money out of politics

Obviously easier to say than do - there is no Utopian ideal. However there are steps we can take to improve matters: 1) Reform party funding. Funding should come from the people, not wealthy individuals or corporations. There should be a cap, so that parties need to appeal to a broad populace into to obtain funds (£5,000? £10,000 per head p.a.?). An interim measure to ease a move to this might be for the state to part fund parties, in proportion to the previous election votes, over three elections, reducing by 50% then 75% each election. 2) Stop the "revolving door". In particular those who have held high office should not be able to walk into lucrative roles on leaving public office. One way in which this can be done is for them to receive generous pensions, but bar them from receiving further remuneration. They may still exercise their skills in charities or business or otherwise, but not for gain. 3) Address the lobbying and PR around government. Clearly there are free speech issues, so it is a difficult path to tread. However it is also clear that large amounts of money are able to be brought to bear and this cannot be healthy for the wider public interest. Very strict limits should be imposed. None of these are easy or lead to ideal outcomes. All would lead to new and ingenious methods of circumventing the rules. Nevertheless these would be a significant step towards a parliament that genuinely represented and served the people, as it is intended to do. As manifesto policy they would signal to the electorate that here was a party genuinely detemined to bring about a new politics and act in the public interest. As an aside, although I do not propose it here, personally I would like to go much further and require those elected to public office to give up their personal wealth, thereby demonstrating their desire to act impartially for the common good. Perhaps a step too far at this youthful stage of democratic development.


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  • commented 2016-07-29 13:59:20 +0100
    Repeating Patrick Nelson’s comment – we need a system of LIke etc on these comments.

    Funding from trades unions or genuinely benevolent mutual institutions should not be seen in the same light as funding from wealthy individuals and profit making corporations.
    The key difference is that wealthy individuals and profit making corporations cannot be expected to have communitarian goals but rather have goals that reflect economic interests generally related to the redistribution of wealth from the many to the few.
  • commented 2016-07-29 13:57:01 +0100
    Mostly like this but too many things packed into one proposal. Some criticisms – party funding does urgently need reform but there’s no reason why it cannot be mainly publicly funded. Take the expensive advertising razzamataz out of it. £10,000 is too high for individual donation – keep it very low £500 – £1,000 and all names openly published.
    I like no. 2 very much but would go further. MPs not allowed to take any directorship or high paid consultancy for 5 years after leaving office. A national panel scrutinises what they do do to check they do not profit financially from their time as MP. For example they should not earn higher than MP pay and expenses (which is a generous package so no hardship).
  • tagged this with like 2016-07-29 13:57:00 +0100
  • commented 2016-07-29 10:17:53 +0100
    Patrick, again, funding should come from the people, not organised bodies, be they corporations or unions or “benevolent mutual institutions”. Such bodies may or may not be benevolent, and they may or may not act in the best interests of the people.
  • commented 2016-07-29 10:14:47 +0100
    Carole, I’m not sure state funding is a good idea. I propose it as an interim measure to ease the transfer from where we are now. People should be free to transfer their allegiances and money where they see fit.
  • commented 2016-07-29 08:40:10 +0100
    I agree. State funding should be seen as the way forwards. If this means the end of union funding, so be it. It should also mean the end of private donors to parties too. Donations to parties should be allowed up to the kind of maximum figure that private citizens might be able to afford. I suggest a cap of £500 per annum per person and all donations should be registered on a list of donors. Only personal donors should be allowed – no organisations or corporations.
  • commented 2016-07-29 08:40:06 +0100
    I agree. State funding should be seen as the way forwards. If this means the end of union funding, so be it. It should also mean the end of private donors to parties too. Donations to parties should be allowed up to the kind of maximum figure that private citizens might be able to afford. I suggest a cap of £500 per annum per person and all donations should be registered on a list of donors. Only personal donors should be allowed – no organisations or corporations.
  • tagged this with like 2016-07-29 08:40:05 +0100
  • commented 2016-07-29 08:34:07 +0100
    “Funding should come from the people, not wealthy individuals or corporations.”

    Funding from trades unions or genuinely benevolent mutual institutions should not be seen in the same light as funding from wealthy individuals and profit making corporations.
    The key difference is that wealthy individuals and profit making corporations cannot be expected to have communitarian goals but rather have goals that reflect economic interests generally related to the redistribution of wealth from the many to the few.

    “Stop the “revolving door”. In particular those who have held high office should not be able to walk into lucrative roles on leaving public office. One way in which this can be done is for them to receive generous pensions, but bar them from receiving further remuneration."

    This is absolutely the correct solution to a very real problem that we face with a large number of Parliamentarians being effectively bought. The cost of the pensions would be far outweighed by the advantages of having a “clean” and honest Parliament.

    Similarly there should be laws related to curbing the access of commercial lobbyists to Parliamentarians – they should be there to represent their political party and their electors not to become the representatives of particular commercial organizations.
  • published this page in Join the debate 2016-07-11 18:31:58 +0100