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Labour cannot defend the Union links and simultaneously propose capping on other donations. The Conservatives can stake a claim on the high ground and further embarass the Labour Party and should do so.
Most voters would agree that the political levy on individuals should be renewed annually - and even that individuals should be able to decide which party the levy funds. With the emergence of super unions its important that the power to influence a major political party should be in the hands of the members not a few Union leaders.

Perhaps we could have some caps on the number of people that Labour needlessly employ in public services as voting bribes too.

This reminds me of Blair giving up the British rebate for a 'voluntary' reduction of CAP by the EU in the future.

It's not going to happen, both sides have too much to lose.

Nothing to argue you with here.

I assume capping national party expenditure more is off the table for now?

Chris, above, is absolutely right. Conservatives should always favour a "voluntary" or in some way self-regulatory solution, but where there are two competing causes, legal compulsion must be equal on both sides.

Either unions and businesses, to view support for the two parties at its crudest, both act voluntarily or under law.


Keep it simple:



I am instinctively against capping of local campaigns. In recent years in Hammersmith & Fulham both Labour and Tory parties have spent amongst the most on campaigning. This goes not only for General Elections but also for local elections.

Locally, our Party's strength is our local association. We raise the money by a combination of high membership, local fundraising and donations (from local Patrons Club, Lord Ascroft and others). The resources provided to us directly by CCO/CCHQ has always been pretty limited (although gratefully accepted!).

Labour has a woeful local membership, so it has used councillors' allowances (over £50,000 over the last 5 years) rent from MPs and union donations. However, Labour's main resources here are its regional and national operations which deliver phone bank canvassing, literature and other support.

This is pretty much the pattern nationally. Just look at the pitiful number of Labour CLPs that register accounts with the Electoral Commission because they have a turnover above the statutory reporting threshold. Compare this to the huge number of Tory Associations who do so.

The Labour Party machine is basically centrally funded and organised with local branches. We are basically a federation of local community parties. No wonder Labour wants to blunt one of our campaigning advantages. The suggested "deal" has nothing whatsoever in it for us.

What a joke. Why limit spending? If all donations are 100% transparent, and there is a limit on what any individual or organisation can donate a year, the parties should be left to spend the money how they wish.

I think it is a good compromise - both sides will hurt a little (AKA John Grisham's maxim "a good judgement is one where both sides go away unhappy"). Many constituencies have difficulty raising enough money, and some raise a lot. This will make it easier to pass excess money from rich associations to ones in hostile areas who really need the campaiging edge money can help with.

This will also make the playing field less sloping (not level though...) for the smaller parties, who are increasingly playing a part in public life, as voters get less tribal and big parties more out of touch.

It may reduce some of the profligacy which has led to the huge debts of Labour and Conservative (and Libs, without their big dodgey donor).

This ought to help slay the dragon of public funding, which I oppose utterly.

I disagree with the local cap, but I'm more interested in how the unions would be curtailed. Labour claim they represent lots of little donations, which is fair enough, but not everyone who joins the union wants to give to the Labour Party. If members were given the option to have part of their membership fee sent to Labour or not that would seem the most fair and democratic way, whilst also reducing the £5million Labour blags off the unions every year.

No surprises here then, that NuLab are trying to fudge the whole issue and steal a financial advantage against the tories.
The news just confirms what we knew, that NuLab are totally unscrupulous and inherently corrupt.
Notice that the onus on the unions is a voluntary one, whilst the cap is legislated against the tories. Nothing to stop the unions reneging at a later stage, or for that matter, local union offices providing support outside the scope of the proposal.
The Hayden enquiry is a fudge and a complete waste of time, it was badly organised and badly run and managed. For both parties it represents a cop out and yet another reason for the people of this country to become even more apathetic.
If we are to have an agreeement it must be legally binding on all parties, there must be no loop-holes and the unions must be separated from the Labour Party. The talk of loans for peerages should be extended to look at the number of ex-union leaders who end up with peerages. The only reason they have recieved them, is for the financial support that the unions provide the party. It is nothing more than a political favour, which also represents the influence that each union has had on government policy against industry and trade. Very corrupt and against all that we respect and expect from politics in this country.
My own personal view is that Hayden Phillips will have to go back to the drawing board, with a flea in his ear, that there will be no public funding of parties.

This report is a futile waste. Regulation will not work. Money will still buy power, politicians and the political process will still be distrusted.


Capping is per se a bad thing. In an age where all parties are failing to communicate effectively with voters, making it more difficult to communicate seems peverse.

Instead of focusing on preventing political communication as if it were akin to tobacco advertising, should not the debate be about how parties can maximise, without taint, their income from willing donors in order that they have the deepest possible pool of resource from which to develop and communicate policy. Maybe it's naive, but wouldn't we all benefit from that and, if we think that the Tories have the best stall to set out, this party more than the others?

As undesirable as state funding may be to those who dislike politics funded by the public purse, we also have to consider that placing our political prosperity in the hands of a few billionaires is equally undesirable.

I would prefer that the Party accepts its place in the British constitutional process (the party political system is undoubtedly part of the constitution) and the taxpayer contributes to that end, rather than be subject to the whims and foibles of a few rich men.

We've criticised the Labour Party for being in hock to the Unions in the past. Is being in hock to high net worth individuals with sometimes eclectic tastes any no more desirable?

Ultimately we need a system of funding that awards performance at a local level by voluntary members (perhaps match funding?), which recognises the performance at the ballot box and which sets thresholds so that state funding only kicks in when you are in possession of Parliamentary seats and a sizeable proportion of the popular vote.

The primary aim of state funding should be enhance and protect the integrity of the political process and to innoculate political parties from overdependence on potentially undemocratic influences.

We have to have a strong and vibrant grassroots that retains ownership of the Party. State funding should support that objective, to make politics more inclusive rather than exclusive.

I agree absolutely with what George Hinton says @ 11.16, if one only goes by the record of this current period of labour government there is enough evidence that they are not to be trusted on anything (except of course to put up taxes endlessly and then waste the proceeds).

If money from the unions is curtailed 'officially', the labour party won't mind. There was an interesting article in the paper a couple of weeks ago - it may have been the Sunday Times - I can't remember - anyway it gave chapter and verse of the way a large donation made its way from the donor through various 'parties' and a supposedly neutral 'charity' into labours coffers. I am sure other posters can put names etc:, I just can't remember them off the cuff. So I am sure that the same could be organised involving the unions.

Many posters have commented on the advantage the Tories have through their strong local Associations. A related issue is the introduction this year of a 'recommended minimum' of £25 for a voting member. The new rules allow for this to be reduced at the discretion of local associations. Many long established branches that raise a lot of money through social events have long-time members who pay £15 (or less)

In theory these members will be told to pay £25 or lose their vote (many will refuse) - in practice it should be left to successful branches to maintain the status quo rather than undermine their fund raising potential.

Totally agree with your succint post Denis Cooper. I really cannot understand your logic Old Hack. How can State Funding possibly be compatible 'with a strong and vibrant grassroots' when our party will no longer have to rely on members large or small donations.
As regards the editorial piece I don't want to see the Labour Party gain an unfair party advantage over us but nor do I think it wise for us to play politics with this issue to gain an advantage over them. I n the end I predict that state funding will if introduce lead to ever lower turnouts and a growing contempt for the political elite.

"innoculate political parties from overdependence on potentially undemocratic influences."

Old Hack, Lord Ashdown's influence is potentially undemocratic, but do you really believe that such influence would be curtailed by a cap on donations? Money buys power - always has done and always will do.

This whole process of enquiry and deals is just politicians doing what they do best... burning our money. For all their talk, the timetable to circumventing any loss of individual power will be measured in hours.

Old Hack writes @ 11:46: "the party political system is undoubtedly part of the constitution", and I'd agree that by convention the SYSTEM is indeed part of our constitution, and has been for centuries. But that's not the same as claiming that any given political party is part of the constitution, or that it should be enshrined as a state institution which must be supported by state funds. The whole idea is bloody outrageous, nothing more or less than legalised theft of taxpayers' money.

Many posters have commented on the advantage the Tories have through their strong local Associations.

Posted by: RodS | January 03, 2007 at 12:25

As I wrote here recently, there are large stretches of urban England where the party barely exists, but where it must win seats if it is to stand any chance of forming a government.

Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph 3 Jan 2007

As regards funding, we have to remember the additional advantage over the Tories that NuLab have and that is the funding and "sponsorship" of Labour MP's. Basically a union will support an MP in exchange for his support and influence on policy and votes in the house.
This is no different from the cash for questions scandal of some years ago or the recent attempt to smear the Tories on the luncheon front.
NuLab MP's are not poor, impoverished, working class people, who would have a difficult time existing in London in some run-down boarding house whilst the Tories and others lorded it up.
MP's are paid an excellent basic salary, with fringe benefits that would leave many envious, plenty of expenses and a gold plated pension scheme paid for by the tax payer.
There is no reason for the Unions to support NuLab financially in any way, shape or format. Any direct support, might come from a levy on the annual membership sub that union members pay and that should be totally voluntary.

There is another element of hypocrisy from Lab here. They object to target seat money while many of their MPs blatantly use expenses to post political campaigning (often first class)letters on all manner of speculative issues to thousands of their constituents. They have barely had a slapped wrist for this deliberate exploitation of taxpayers money. It should be stopped whichever party is doing it. I have no objection to parties having donations etc the issue is really about reducing state funding and making dealings transparent and fair.


I think this a fairly poor compromise, to be honest, not just for us but for politics generally.

The donations cap seems to be a fair move, encouraging parties to broaden their donor bases in the process. With a commitment to transparency and a sensible level of regulation. I understand that this would not be introduced in a "big bang" manner, to enable parties to adapt and reform their fundraising arrangements.

I'm greatly in favour of seeing a greater proportion of money raised and spent more professionally by local constituency parties, however, and I think the proposal for local spending caps would be damaging to Conservative campaigns - and indeed to politics as a whole. Devolving our organisation, moving as many professionals as we can into the field, for example, makes good logistical sense. At a time when political engagement is at something of a low, historically, does it really make sense to regulate our operations outside of election periods, hampering communication with electors and peacetime campaigning?

If the money is raised transparently and within donation limits, why should it not be spent on campaigning? That's what local parties largely exist to do. My understanding was that Phillips' remit was concerning sources of income, not expenditure? In addition, what signal does it send regarding the worth of political campaigning? (a subject close to the heart of many of us volunteers who have occasionally been looked at while campaigning as if we were walking round town with a sick chicken under our arm...)

I'm also at a loss as to what would actually be regulated outside of General Election periods. Running costs, councillors' newsletters, membership recruitment & general party building, community surveys etc, or just material/activity that was regarded as directly promoting the candidate?. Would this only apply to the PPC, or would campaigning for local government be regulated in the same way? Would an Association be able to give financial as wel as physical campaign support to a neighbouring target seat, without that money being counted twice? It strikes me as a bureaucratic quagmire to say the least, and we don't want to be going there.

So who was the negotiator for our side? Whoever it was they should be sacked. They clearly cant sort out a fair compromise.

I agree with other posters here that why should it matter where the funding comes from as long as it is accounted for. Let the Unions fund Labour and let big business fund the Tories as long as they come clean about it.

The Unions wont cease funding Labour. Labour back their interests... Our Associations are to be killed off financially by CCO and these reforms will hurt them more. Lets not forget, CCO will be taking more money per member than ever before.

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