Dear West Country Voices,
Recent events in politics have brought several things to the forefront of my mind. I wrote previously about the need for electoral reform, but now another revelation has become crystal clear to me.
What I have seen in the previous few weeks has led me to believe that, as well as changing the voting system to make every vote count, we now, more than ever, need to change the way that political parties are funded.
Liz Truss was voted into power by a tiny minority of the UK population. Neither she nor her new crop of ministers have any mandate for the actions that they are taking, and she and Kwarteng crashed the economy off a cliff at high speed. We will all end up paying the price for this, both fiscally and through losing more of our priceless yet chronically under-funded public services.
Truss and Kwarteng were empowered to act because we allow external donations to political parties. Tory greed led to the Kami Kwazi “mini budget” which was designed to benefit those dark money groups with vested interests, laughably called “think tanks”, whilst vastly impoverishing the rest of the population. [Truss, despite the U-turn, has said that public spending will ‘not rise as fast’…so there will be real cuts. Ed]
My idea is simple: alongside a much-needed, long-overdue move to proportional representation, we should fund parties from the public purse. Parties should be given money to run their day to day business and pay staff and then, of course, a fixed amount for campaigning.
You might think that’s insane and ask why should we pay millions per year to fund political parties in this manner? Well, my answer is simple. As things stand currently, rogue parties and MPs receive funding from nefarious sources, “donations” from lobbyists and non-transparent “think tanks”, and then proceed to act in the interests of that narrow band of wealthy individuals instead of representing the interests of those in their constituencies who actually vote for them.
Funding parties from taxpayers’ money may seem like it will cost more, but I believe it would cost us significantly less in the long run, because the incentive to serve the interests of a few and, for example, to award overpriced contracts to donors would disappear instantly. A ban on MPs second jobs or “consultancy positions” should also be a consequence of implementing this idea.
Let’s do it.