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First of all, we need to know what the practical funding alternatives are.

First of all, we need to know what the practical funding alternatives are

No we don't. A negative campaign would be far more effective.

More graphics like the one above would be my first suggestion. That hits a nerve. We would need to criticise our own side though for it to be really effective.

AT THE NEXT ELECTION what will we really achieve unless we use our vote to kick the 'corrupt parties' out of Parliament, by simply voting INDEPENDENT.

Obviously if the party candidate depends on the party for his ticket on to the parliamentary gravy-train, then the party depends upon us to continue voting for their "corrupt party".

The sooner we stop voting for parties, the sooner their game is over and control of affairs will return to the people, where it really belongs. Individual liberty is the real democracy, not this collectivist sham which gives you a vote but takes away your power after you have voted.

At the next election, the only "wasted vote" would be that given to ANY party which perpetuates the "elective dictatorship".  We would be helping to create a free parliament once again, which can stop bad government before it occurs, instead of having to wait FIVE YEARS to try to repair the damage !


Perhaps the best action is to actually put forward ideas about how the use of state funds might be guarded against abuse?

A sort of 'Ofpol' - an independent office to regulate the usage of funds, audit accounts, set down what funds may be used for (ie: campaigning not haircuts or Lexii). Such an office would need teeth - either by way of fines or suspension of funding to ensure compliance.

Couple this with a basic criterion about how central parties should pass on at least 50% to their constituency parties?


Surely we should depict Cameron, Blair and Campbell as hoodie unemployed benefits scroungers.

They are capable of doing what is necessary to stand on their own two feet, but can't be arsed (ie to connect with members) so have opted for the easy life, living off the state.

I should point out as well the UKIP have officially opposed the extension to state funding of political parties.

Check out David Campbell Bannerman's comments on the issue.

David has also agreed to adopt a No Preference, No Prejudice approach to his small government manifesto.

An active campaign to oppose state funding has been made even more vital after the ads that appeared in national newspapers this morning for pro-state funding enoughsenough.org which arrogantly decides that "£40 million can be taken from general taxation purse".

In all of this opposition to the extension of state funding from the 'short' money given to Parties in Parliament, perhaps its worth bearing in mind that the party political process is very much an integrated part of the unwritten British constitution.

We need to ensure that parties see it in their best interests to attract and retain voluntary workers and that politicians do not derive too much benefit merely from being 'involved' as opposed to elected. In other words the current system needs some support and incentives to perform, but not a substitute stream of funding.

State funding has been a long time coming, provided that it's implemented in a way that serves the people, not the political hierarchy it can be a good thing.

Heaven knows, if decent moderate parties were replaced by headbangers and goons because of the complacency and apathy rife in much of society today we'd rue the day.

I like the Cherie poster but we also need posters targetted at the Tories.

I suggest something asking taxpayers if they are happy to pay for Steve Hilton's £23,000 a month salary?

Voting for independents or small parties is as good as a tacit vote for Labour. They don't need the votes so much, they've got the electoral system stitched up. So that's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

But the obvious, though rather extreme tactic, is to withhold party membership as long as the party is supportive of this policy. Instead of renewing their memberships, members should sign up as party supporters but send their membership fee to a fund organised by some eminently reliable individual to be released back to the Conservative Party in a lump sum at such time that the policy is dropped; and otherwise to be spent on Conservative-supporting election material which nonetheless criticises the state funding policy.

It would take quite a lot of people for this to work though and the danger is that the party leadership may be compromised by being seen to be 'blackmailed', and it may set a precedent. Or it could be used as an excuse to gouge more out of the taxpayer. I'm not sure it's a good idea, but it's the best and most appropriate I can think of under the circumstances.

It would be best if this could be backed by a strong alternative proposal, of course.

"State funding has been a long time coming...it can be a good thing. "

State-run political parties? Taxpayers forced to pay for party activity?

A good thing?

All we need is transparency of donations. The source of every single inflow should be a matter of public record no matter how it is strucutured.

It really is that simple.

The politicians are just deviously using this loans issue to plunder taxpayers funds to write off their own debts and financial mismanagement.

If political parties can't balance their own accounts, why should they be trusted to run the country?

This will be of necessity a short, sharp campaign. The main parties will be keen to reach consensus quickly, and to trumpet the "cure" to bad practice at the moment of greatest embarrassment, which, the way Yates of the Yard is pressing on, will be this autumn.

My plan would be to highlight the elemental wrongs of a state-funded solution, which immediately seem to be misuse of state hand-outs, propagation of self-interest, cant and hypocrisy, and finally the completely bogus nature of their contention that "this is the only way to stop political parties from occasionally finding that they might have broken the law".

I think analysis of party spending will show an inflation rate closer to 20% than 2% over the last few years. It's turned into a sort of Space Race, with the attendant irresponsible spending and fear of somehow being behind the curve. Spend, spend, spend now, think about it later. The only difference between party HQs and WAGS is that the WAGS' other halves have money, whilst the political parties just plunge ever deeper into the red.

The foolish thing would be to assume that the amounts of money spent are reasonable and we the taxpayers are simply going to have to face the music and stump up. The Labour party have termed this "investment in our democratic process", another example of their wilful inability to differentiate between money spent and money invested.

Hear ,hear Chad.I can't think of a single reason for state funding ever to be 'a good thing'.With my experience of regulators I also can't think of a single example of a regulator being truly effective.
There is an interesting advertisement on the back page of main news in the Grauniad today in the form of an open letter to Hayden Phillips opposing state funding.Unfortunately I don't buy the Guardian and can't remember the name of the group who paid for the advertisement.Any have a copy and anyone know anything about this group?

Thanks Malcolm. In these topsy turvy political times when right is left and left is right, it seems too that finally sense is coming out of UKIP, with their clear opposition to the plans which shows principle as they are not simply waiting to see if they will be "rewarded" before whining.

Yes, I was surprised too, but a pleasant surprise.

However, I would absolutely want the Tory Party to do the same, as they can stop this. No small government supporter can go along with this very socialist plan.

Cameron should rip up his March 2006 state-funding proposals, and if he can't face breaking that committment, he should simply repeat his EPP solution and agree to defer it until 2009 after the next election!

Three thoughts for the Chameleon Army paintshops wizards;

BIG Pile of LibDem Focus leaflets and the strapline "Taxes for More Junk Mail or More School Books?"

Picture of Screaming Lord Sutch (RIP, so not actionable I suppose) and the strap line "Give Serious Taxpayers' Money to Political Parties?"

Picture of BIG Police Cordon at a Party Conference and the strapline "Taxes for Conference Security or National Security?"

OK, Saatchi I'm not.

I agree with Umbrella Man.

Steve Hilton's £276,000 annual salary disinclines me to give any money to the party when I see it spent like that.

It also puts one of Cameron's closest advisers out of touch with ordinary people who can't afford to live with state failure and high taxation as much as Hilton and Cameron can.

Cameron's large salary and large inherited wealth also puts him out of touch with the experience of ordinary people, despite his protestations to the contrary. I don't want to see him further removed from reality by leaching off the taxpayer for more of the party's revenues.

State funding doesn't deal with the major issue: dishonesty. The has always been the danger of corruption because of the powers of our elected officials in terms of placing business and in patronage offering power and income. Cases in the US, Germany & France have shown that imposition of limits & state funding haven't solved the endemic problem.

Transparency and ethics are what is needed. Open books on donations & party financing. Is it really too much to ask that our political parties are honest with the public & members?

Slightly off the point but to do with Cherie Blair: was her visit to the G8 summit piad for by the taxpayer? If so, why did she take time out to conduct Matrix chambers' business?

State funding is, quite obviously, an open gateway to corruption, but the requirement for political parties to raise £millions to fund election campaign is (as we've seen graphically illustrated by the Levy affair) precisely the same, if a little more oblique.

For me it's simple. Cap spending on electioneering by political parties at a national, as well as at a constituency level. Say, £1m maximum. Not enough to buy a single peerage, by this analysis.

"Is it really too much to ask that our political parties are honest with the public & members?"

It does seem to be Ted.

They seem to be saying that if they aren't allowed to hide donor names and offer them secret favours, then the 'only' alternative is an extension to state funding.

You couldn't make it up!

Matthew is right. Legally reduce their maximum spend, but also legally require them to take part in x number of head to head debates on our taxpayer funded BBC.

Then we can swap the ads for real debate.

I agree with old hack. This issue is not going to go away, some state funding of political parties is inevitable. The obvious thing to do is set up a watchdog to ensure that taxpayers money is not abused.

OFPOL (the office of political regulation) a regulator similar to the ones that oversee the utilities.

Example: All political parties would have to register, their constitutions, aims and objectives etc. Parties which were deemed un-democratic or racist would not be allowed to register, for instance a constitution which barred members because of their race, creed or colour would not be acceptable. Once a party is registered it would have to pass a 1% (figure negotiable) of total vote at a GE to receive a payment. Payment would be £2.0 per vote, money would go into an account held by OFPOL. Parties would set up direct debits, standing orders etc (like a bank) to pay for day-to-day running, all would be vetted, any other payments would have to be justified. at the end of each financial year full audited accounts published, showing all ins-outs.

Individuals would have to make their payments via Ofpol, they would be vetted before yea or nay, no anonymity. Companies, trade unions, organisation who wish to donate, could do so, but only after membership/shareholders votes on the issue, no anonymity.

Any attempt to circumvent, the very strict criteria set by OFPOL's charter would be considered a criminal offence, leading to heavy fines, imprisonment, or de-registration, which would result in taxpayers money being withdrawn, leaving that party at a severe disadvantage: perhaps even bankrupcy.

The answer to funding actually ties in with localism. We should aim to move to a system where the parties raise funds locally at the constituency level and spend them locally. This would encourage the local branches to interact a lot more locally and they would stand a much better chance of engaging the electorate.

It would hopefully mean a move away from the current system where the parties squander millions on tacky national billboard campaigns and pointless helicopter flights, all of which are clearly turning the electorate off.

You are quite right to oppose state funding: this would just result in even greater national control and even less local interaction. We should be making a lot of noise about this.

"This issue is not going to go away, some state funding of political parties is inevitable."

The 'inevitability' is the greed of the big 3 to ignore public wishes and force it through, not that it is the right thing to do.

It is not. 80% of members here oppose it. 76% of electoral commission respondents across parties oppose it.

UKIP are opposing it.

I can understand why the socialist leaning parties support it but surely the conservatives should also oppose a scheme that their members clear do not support.

"State funding has been a long time coming, provided that it's implemented in a way that serves the people, not the political hierarchy it can be a good thing."

Haha, somehow I can't see our political masters being that noble.

There is an interesting advertisement on the back page of main news in the Grauniad today in the form of an open letter to Hayden Phillips opposing state funding.
Was it like this one on EnoughsEnough?

You could probably stop it with the HRA, as we would be paying for political parties that we don’t support against our will, and therefore affecting our human rights. If someone can’t get sent back to their home country after hijacking a plane because of their human rights, you never know it might work!

Yes Sam,that's the one.Do you know anything about this group?

EnoughsEnough is also in today's Indy

One of the problems with State funding is that I, as a taxpayer, fund political parties whose policies are anathema to me.

It cannot be beyond the wit of marketing advisers to devise a campaign that encourages the public to fund the party they favour from its private purse - educate them to understand the benefits and to be proud of having an influence - a major withdrawal of private funding would be a prime indicator that your chosen Party was not performing well.

The problem we have always found with getting members is that they think they'll have to get actively involved - we need assistance to devise a Supporters System at a very local level, raising small amounts from lots of people.

Surely the thin end of the wedge was when the Leader of the Opposition was funded by the so called 'Short money'! The principle of state funding has already been accepted. What are those who oppose state funding saying, that DC should reject that money? That the Conservative Party should never accepted it. Its Ok having all these high faluting ideas about, local parties and increasing membership etc., its not going to happen.

In 1955 the Conservative Party had approaching 3million members, Labour 800,000. How many do they have today 200 to 300 hundred thousand, howmany are fully paid up and active: not too many.

Fifty years ago, apart from the Boy Scouts the Young Conservatives were the largest youth movement in Europe. The Conservative Party wasn't just a political party, it was a social movement, it played a major part in mainly middle/lower middle class life, it doesn't any longer. No political party is thought of in that way in Britain in the 21st century, and never will be again.

What we have now is franchise system, every four/five years the management of 'UK PLC' comes up for renewal. The voters then decide which one they want, knowing full well, that there won't be much difference: if at all. It's coming down to personalities not policies. After all DC is selling himself (PR) not the Conservative Party, he's trying to distance himself from that. That after all is what TB did in 1997, 'Trust me I'm not a socialist' DC is saying 'Trust me. I could be'.

New situations, need new solutions.

As you said at the time, a quick trawl through the value for money demonstrated by all 3 parties at the general election should pay dividends:


In 1955 the Conservative Party had approaching 3million members, Labour 800,000. How many do they have today 200 to 300 hundred thousand, howmany are fully paid up and active: not too many.

Surely this would suggest that our political parties are not attracting support because they are not offering people what they want any more. In that context, offering state funding is little different from propping up a nationalised industry. Most of us would object to the government paying Rover - say - to produce cars nobody wanted to buy. Why then should politicians we choose not to give our money too be similarly subsidised?


The enoughsenough letter is supporting state funding, not opposing it. It calls for £40 million from general taxation to be divided up between the parties.

My instincts are broadly against any extension of state funding beyond the existing short money, for all the reasons given on this site and elsewhere especially Guido's crime shouldn't pay.

The only case I could see for it would be a limited annual tarrif based on the size of the membership - for example £1 or £2 per member. The advantage of that would be that it would incentivise the parties to build up membership, and would depend on their current performance rather than give a built-in advantage to the parties that performed best at the previous general election, however well or poorly thay have done since. Clearly membership rolls would have to be audited. It would give the parties a relatively small ammount of money which they could use to develop membership capacity.

I am not sure I have managed to convince myself on this idea, but float it out for comment.

And the enoughsenough ad is cleverly worded too, to suggest that state funding will clear up the corruption.

"For 2 pence a week we can Cut The Cr£p Out of Politics"

It is cleary well funded as the full-page ads seem to be everywhere.

We need a proper anti state funding campaign to combat this mirepresentation and to generally, well, fight in the public's corner.

Perhaps the Chameleon Army could seek to raise funds to pay for a full page ad or two. I'd certainly pay my share. We need to move offline into the traditional press as well to make this campaign effective.

Some interesting posts out here. But, sorry, there is absolutely no justification for state funding. If the parties in a democracy in which we alloow them to participate cannot convince us of the relative merits of their case, then that is their problem. They are sufficiently incompetent at handling our money as it is. I'll be damned if I am going to pay them for the privilege.

David Cameron, what are you doing? First you screw up on the EPP promise. Now this! Politicians are already isolated from the real world and state funding will just seal the bubble. It will reduce accountability, competition and accessibility while increasing bureaucracy and waste. It is a concept that should be so obviously alien to conservative principles I find it hard to believe that we’re in cahoots with Labour on this.

Continue with this folly and you will see that membership dues and donations are gladly diverted to alternative campaigns.

The funding issue is unequivocally related to the "trust" issue so my suggestion is:

Enforce an unequivocal cap on election spending, get rid of Party Political Broadcasts and use free to air commercials instead.

Limit corporate and Union donations to £100k

Spending could be based on a compromise on party membership (those paying over say £10 for membership)and the need for equal/fair coverage. Linking expenditure to membership levels could encourage political party's of all colours to engage better with the people.

Have an ambudsman rule on allegations of fair play in elections so that the public can have an independant view on whether issues are fair political comment or out and out deceit. This would sort out the sort of immoral tactics mostly employed by the Lib Dems.

The campaign will only succeed if it also takes a position against big donations from wealthy individuals and organisations.

In otherwords there needs to be a very tight cap on campaign spending by the parties.

Limits, controls etc are like licensing laws to an alcoholic - thre is always a way to get the demon drink.

Transparency is more important - no more closed council meetings, no secret deals.

If boundaries are drawn too tight then would this blog be viewed as part of the Conservative Party's funding (not owned by party but obviously has a role in building a conservative consensus and impacting Party policy)? If Iain Dale supports Conservative policy should he be covered by political spending limits? If not, then we get Committees to re-elect the Conservatives etc with rich individuals supporting non-party but in reality party political campaigns.

I'm surprised that so many Conservatives rejecting Labour's legislative statism think its a great idea when it comes to funding.

I'm with you Ted.

No limits on funding, just full transparency defined to ensure it is just that - all income is declared however structured.

The money will always flow somehow. We should not seek to control it coming in but we should all know about it.

Reducing the legal election time spend etc will help, but there should be no interference on how much a party can raise from a single donor.

Simon,you are absolutely right!I'm so sorry,I was reading the back of someone elses paper on a crowded train and couldn't make out all the words!I'd mistakenly read the advertisement as an attack on state funding.I'm now wearing a dunces hat!

Further to my post 11:01
and 12:37

I notice no one has commented on the fact that the leader of the opposition already gets state funding for that office: is this acceptable?

If for instance a £2.0 per voter, was paid to the political party of the voters choice, there could also be a disclaimer on each ballot paper, 'Do you wish to donate £2.0 to the party of your choice, tick yes or no.

Those who oppose state funding will tick no, those who do not tick yes.

I wish we weren't having this discussion, I wish that the party political system in this country was totally supported by party members giving their time and money to their party, but it is not. No good pretending otherwise or pretending it will change, it will not. What will happen in ten years time, when many of the present party members are dead, they will not be replaced.

Political parties are supposed to represent a set of ideas and beliefs. The current drive to the imaginary centre where everyone can be everything to all people is part of the reasons why the current political class is held is contempt. State funding is not a solution. It would further alienate an already ideologically alienated political clique. We need to reconsider why people are not interested in political parties (since political issues can and do still attract enormous support) rather than look to reinforce failure.

Don't approve of 'short money' or paying 'special advisors' by the state when they are not answerable to it.DC would gain great kudos with the electorate if he promised to abolish both but I doubt he would have the courage.
Political parties unable to support themselves financially from the support of their members do not deserve to survive.If that applies to the Conservative party -tough.

Ms. Booth took her Matrix work with her to the G8 summit, because she 'wants it all', and hasn't a clue about what is appropriate for any given occasion and what is not!

She doesn't 'do' curtseying, but she sure as eggs are eggs wants everybody to 'know' exactly how 'important' a personage SHE is.

Agreed, Patsy; do you not think that, if Cherie Blair's trip was paid for by the taxpayer, there should be an official enquiry, as she engaged on work on behalf of Matrix chambers while she was there?

It is interesting that you debate state funding of political parties, as is the system we fund national, regional and local parties in Norway.

We have a system where the political parties receive money based on the number of votes each party receive at a General Election. (at a regional and local level, it is based on the votes each party receive at local elections).

In addition, the Parliament (Storting) fund the parliamentary parties, and it is a very generous system. In Norway it is not custom that each MP employ his own staff. instead, it is the parliamentary parties who employ staffers, who then work for the group as a whole, or for the party groups in the committees (factions).

If you have state funding, the political party is totally dependent on the state, which is basically a bad thing. But it is the prize we have to pay in Norway for a democracy.

"But it is the prize we have to pay in Norway for a democracy."

Unfortunately for us Morten, it looks like State Funding will be the price we will have to pay to lose our democracy.

However, for now, I'm still hoping that the final solution will not give the big 3 all they want.

They'll steamroller through some extension of state funding, I'm sure, but it will only be democratic to give parties a choice to either live off the state and thus have private donations capped, or to stand on their own two feet free from any restriction on private donation size.

It is vital not to deliberately seek to kill off the emerging small political parties which David Cameron's proposals seem to be seeking to achieve by refusing them both access to state funding and imposing private donation caps.

Perhaps we are entering a new dawn of both state and private political parties.

As a small government supporter, I'll stick with the private sector thanks and leave Blair/Cameron/Campbell to take the big government, almost socialist, state party route.

Obviously state funding is a Bad Thing. Unfortunately so is Cherie's hair.

Poor Cherie.

I have a friend who insists on calling her "Cherry Booth" as he believes she's trying to up her station by frenchifying her name. In this household she's known as the cat-murdering b**ch, in memory of poor Humphrey (please don't tell me you believe that guff about him being retired to Surrey).

I for one would happily pay higher taxes to keep the wretched woman's hair a bit neater.

Get a new leader.

How about this?

Several thoughts occur to me with regard to the possibilities created by state funding:

a) Bursaries for parliamentary candidates - it is a jolly expensive business nursing a seat for several years. Elsewhere on this site support for candidates without the high net worth or well remunerated career has been mooted. It may be more feasible with state funding. Such bursaries should not however be administered by the parties themselves but by a central body (perhaps OFPOL) with a fairly stringent set of criteria attached. This should not be a 'grace and favour' project but rather aim to increase diversity amongst our politicians.

b) Perhaps stipulate to parties that a fairly large percentage of funds given should be directly aimed at increasing participation in the democratic process - both within the party hierarchies (which should be democratised themselves) and at elections. Make everything about the ways parties work more open, accountable and (boo-hiss) democratic.

In other words, the principle aim of state funding should be to support and enhance democracy. Not to shore up political parties fundraising, but rather encourage and reward hard work by parties and individuals both nationally and (just as important) locally.

Umbrella Man: July 21st @ 8.52

"I like the Cherie poster but we also need posters targeted at the Tories..."

How about the £3,600 spent on make-up for Michael Howard ? Or £2,500 to buy "groundhog day" costumes? Or perhaps Lynton Crosby's £33,000 hotel and accommodation bill ?

And for the LibDens: £5,000 on new suits for Charlie Kennedy, or £101 for his hotel mini bar bill for just 1 night.

It is all on the record.

Any campaign against state funding must be bi-partisan. They are all at it - and they are all involved in a conspiracy of silence to try and get the proposals passed without too much public uproar.

Any campaign to defeat the measure will need to be from a cross party alliance of grassroots.

The taxpayer should not support lame ducks. No party deserves to survive on state hand-outs. Without sufficient voluntary support, parties will have to learn to manage on less or change to attract more support, or go to the wall.

I am totally opposed to state funding for political parties beyond what is currently given.
Cllr. Tony Woodcock (Poole)

Another trouble with tax funding, beyond the fact it's plainly immoral, lazy, anti-democratic: that it is necessarily unequal (unless they propose to give every British citizen a stipend to do politics), and that it grants bureaucrats the power of deiding who makes the cut, either arbitrarily at whim (see "Vlaams Blok") or according to some vote counting algorithm that would in practise starve the small parties and cartelize the status quo.

The simplest and best solution to party funding has to be an "open books free-for-all".

Democracy is dying and state funding will kill it completely. HM's Opposition party is already funded in small part, for being the so called Opposition. If the EU gets more of its way, no party with less than two MP's in the previous parliament would be allowed to stand in the general election or receive funding. It would therefore disallow smaller parties and Independent MP's. This would mean locking this country into antidemocratic control. Is this another reason why Mr. Cameron wants state funding, to officially narrow the field because he will have a better chance? Rhetorical question!

IDS was the man who sat down, David Cameron is already known to many as the man who only PRETENDED to stand up. Look how he betrayed you all on the EPP! Back bench him and let real patriots run the Conservative Party. It may then enjoy a true renaissance instead of a media spun one.

If Britain is to have any chance at a democratic future we must ban state funding of political parties. Ban EU legislation - delegated and otherwise, which subverts our own. Leave the EU and trade with whom ever we want; be free Britain, BE Better Off Out!

State Funding of political parties dear me no. What would the electorate ever get in return? Nothing. What are the political parties saying they will give the electorate in return? Nothing! Let them sink or swim by their own uncorrupted ability to fundraise. I have no wish to pay for their spin doctors, expensive television campaigns etc.

David Farmer

Hall Green Birmingham

The very least we should all do is send a strongly worded e-mail to our MP and Mr Cameron.

No Conservative should really support State-funding of parties.

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