Where do our political parties get their money from? The cash to run all their local offices, the capital to have central headquarters in major city centres, the funds to employ highly paid staff, the finances to advertise on TV, radio and newspapers, the assets to print posters and leaflets, the resources to distribute material, the means to buy capital equipment including cars and computers, and the wealth for many other commitments including xxxx.
Well, all the parties get financial support from their signed-up members and their fund raising efforts – but only a tiny proportion of what they actually need & spend! And after that? The Conservatives get most of their money from rich individuals, companies and organisations – often through massive donations. The Labour party get their main income (over 80% in 2011) from the Unions (organisations that set up the party in the first place to promote in politics the case of the workers) – most Unions automatically charge their members a ‘political levy, though people can opt out (but they also have big benefactors, such as author JK Rowling £1M). The Liberal Democrats get about 40% from firms (at best £5 – 5 million total donations in a good year) , and they and other smaller parties generally have to knife & fork it (with a bit of State funding), and end up with very little operating capital by comparison to the main parties! Political parties get most donation money shortly before elections and the Tories over 10 million pounds in the year, with Labour less than half that, but around £10 – £15million from the Unions).
In America the political parties spend an obscene fortune on promoting themselves and their candidates, and again this comes mainly from the wealthy. Barack Obama (a junior Senator from Illinois), first ran for President in 2008 (the first & only black American to do so!), when he was successful, and he broke the mould a bit by employing modern technology – the INTERNET – to get his message across to the grassroots, gain support, and gather funds, but his campaign cost an estimated 300 million dollars (that is nearly two hundred million pounds)! The American 2012 elections (for the 57th president, Obama re-elected, federal, 33 Senate seats, over 400 Representatives, Governors, and Referendums, etc and plus massive spending by lobbyists, it became the most expensive in American history, $6 billion or nearly forty billion pounds!
In the UK is the donations system sustainable? We think NOT! The basic problem is one of sleaze. Why do massive sums of money get donated to politicians? Is it because people and corporations and Unions, are nice and public spirited? Dream on! It is because those giving expect payback. They want something in return, and normally get it! It might be an honour like a Knighthood, or a seat in the House of Lords, or a tax benefit, or relaxation in the law, or supportive legislation (or cancellation of proposed measures) – for the Unions it is chiefly a big say in Labour policy, and the election of party officials. Property developer David Abrahams gave ¾ million pounds to the Labour party in disguised payments through ‘associates’ (not allowed) – his company was granted planning permission to build a business park (previously refused) AFTER he made substantial donations! You see it is endemic.
We see repeated scandals uncovered by the Press (including ‘cash for questions’ scandals), when there have clearly been some shenanigans going on. We have for example British born Michael Ashcroft, worth over a billion pounds, appointed Deputy Chairman & Treasurer of the Tories, and a major (£millions) donor, (and also loaned it nearly four million pounds, as well as funding Conservative candidates in marginal constituencies), who doesn’t actually live here (domiciled that is, a fact he hid from everybody for many many years!), or pay his taxes here (in Belize instead) – is given a Lordship by William Hague in 2008 (cash for honours?) on the promise of changing that status to ‘domiciled’ (which he then blatantly reneged on!) You get the Unions apparently trying to rig the selection of parliamentary candidates in Falkirk and others places in Scotland. Stanley Fink, a mate of PM Cameron, and now Tory Treasurer (taking over from Peter Cruddas – done for by the cash for access scandal!), donated over two and a half million pounds to the Conservatives, and then of course was awarded a seat in the Lords – no surprise there then! Jack Dromey ex-Union boss and Labour MP, a suspect selection following a £1500 donation by his Union Unite, (married to Harriet Harman Deputy Labour leader, and he is now Shadow Minister – surprise, surprise) – so you can buy a seat (after a ‘Cash for Peerages’ scandal involving substantial loans of £3.5million to the party, which he said he didn’t know about, despite being Treasurer – as well as nearly £¾ million of illegal donations!), A number of peerage nomination by Labour PM Tony Blair were rejected in 2006 – they had all loaned large sums of money to Labour!
You sometimes get large sums given to parties from suspect sources (some returned and some not when it gets exposed). For example tycoon Asil Nadir (a big friend of Michael Mates, who had to resign as a consequence, a dubious and former Tory heavyweight MP, Minister, Chairman of the Defence committee, and Nadir’s defence witness, – who gifted him a watch inscribed ‘don’t let the buggers get you down’)was responsible for the £1.3billion collapse in 1990 of Polly Peck, was allowed from bail to abscond to Cyprus to avoid justice, but on returning to the UK was finally jailed twenty years later for 10 years on specimen charges of theft. He had made donations to the Conservative party of nearly half a million pounds (not repaid as far as can be determined). The LibDems pocketed nearly two & a half million pounds from convicted fraudster and conman Scot Michael Brown (another fugitive in 2008 while awaiting trial), but was finally jailed for 7 years in 2012 – despite the money being stolen the LibDems refused to repay it (Nick Clegg)!
What is the answer then? Easy! Ban all such donations immediately. There has been talk of putting a cap on such contributions, but vested interests mean that the amount can’t be agreed by anybody – simple then, ban ALL of them. It has also been suggested that the taxpayer should fund the political parties – what a joke (we already get stung silly by PMs’ & councillors’ expenses!).
All political parties need to paddle their own canoe – ALL their money should come from membership fees, and their fund raising, through coffee mornings and the like. What would be the effect of that? All the parties would spend ‘less’ money, which can only be good for our society (and we wouldn’t have to suffer their constant lies & false promises).
Britain lays claim to being the oldest democracy in the World. Some democracy isn’t it? We fought and died in two World Wars to keep our freedom and decide our way of life; but now in 2013 we now have a situation where no one had a say in us joining the European Union, our laws are made by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, any Tom Dick or Harry can land on our shores, either from the Europe or even the anti-British claiming asylum (and we can’t later deport the convicted criminals, because this would infringe their human rights), all our major assets have been sold off to the highest bidder so foreigners now control all our important infrastructure (including energy, water, transport, industry, manufacturing, et al, our supposedly political representatives, particularly MPs, ignore public opinion (so major criminals including child murders get no possibility of a death penalty (which only applies to traitors these days!), and they and paedophiles get treated with kid cloves – with sentences automatically halved, and prison food budgets greater than schools or hospitals), illegal immigrants get us to pay for their suspect legal representatives, and disappear when they fail (and also we pay for many convicted criminals to appeal time and time again!), murderers and the like are allowed to plead ‘not guilty’ despite their overwhelming guilt (their defence at our expense including immeasurably costly high court trials).
[Whatever your political views and political values you have to admit that this just cannot go on? Time to call a halt isn’t it? If so, tell your chosen party and your local MP and also your councillor! Donations into party coffers are banned in some countries, like France & Canada].