BBC News is reporting that Lord Ashcroft has suggested that moves toward state funding of political parties are "nonsense". In a House of Lords debate the former Tory Treasurer said that political parties should be prohibited from being able to further poke their fingers into the public purse. It is, of course, the policy of a heavily indebted Conservative Party to bid for extra funding for political parties in return for caps, for example, on the amount an individual can give to a political party. CCHQ told BBC that Lord Ashcroft was expressing an entirely personal opinion. The Tory Deputy Chairman confirmed the opinion he expressed over a year ago - in an article for The Times - that political parties should be free to raise money from anyone they deemed acceptable but must disclose any donations much more rapidly than at present.
ConservativeHome fears that both the Ashcroft and Cameron prescriptions risk separating political parties from the concerns of individual voters. If parties can get their money from big business or big government they won't be forced to return to retail politics and grassroots funding.