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Good result; we were going to lose the Ashcroft money anyway, but now Brown can be tagged as a sock-puppet for Serowtka - just as a Callaghan-era reaction against public service unions kicks off.

Gove's analysis looks more prescient by the hour.

"We are disappointed that the trade unions still hold Labour over a barrel. The unions are running the Labour Party from the back seat, giving them control over Government policy. "

This sounds bad but it isn't. Labour was set up to work this way- it is the political wing of the trade union movement. It was unions who founded Labour, along with help from the co-operative movement.

This is way it is supposed to be- to give working people a voice in parliament. It would be wrong for Labour to stop using union money.

"This is way it is supposed to be- to give working people a voice in parliament. It would be wrong for Labour to stop using union money."

Then it would also be wrong for the center-right party of lower-taxation to be subjected to have donations capped from wealthy individuals and business'.

If Labour were serious about party funding reform then it too must make the sacrifice, not just the Conservatives. GB could force this through Parliament, but it would probably bankrupt us.

Good. The double standards of the Labour party are breathtaking.We should be spending 100% of our effort exposing them. I hope all Conservative MPs will reject the use of their communications allowance ,say no to any increase in state funding and leave Labour MPs to explain their rank hypocrisy to the electorate.

It is perfectly proper that Labour should receive union funding. It exists to promote the interests of organised labour. It is also perfectly proper that Sainsbury (Labour),Ashcroft (Conservatives), Goldsmith (Referendum), Harrison (Natural Law), and other rich men should be able to use their money to promote the causes *they* believe in. For Labour (or, indeed, the Conservatives, if Tyrie had his way) to want to prevent people from spending their money on what they believe in would be an appalling attack on democracy.

Why not just settle on reforming loans so that there is a minimum repayment schedulen with a minimum amount of interest, and they have to be declared the same way as donations and if they are not repaid according at least to the schedule then the entire amount is confiscated.

Then when in office the Conservative Party could always ban Trade Unions or Companies from making political donations, leaving only individuals able to donate their own money to political parties and there could be no additional public funding for political parties.

We believe in a small state. State funding of political parties is not compatible with this. It leads to complacency and general lack of effort. Politicians must fight for every penny of financial support. Nothing can be taken for granted. We must oppose state funding of political parties. Full stop.

There is little more corrupt or self-serving than Cameron's state funding proposals.

Under Cameron's plans:

An independent candidate who wins a seat, becomes an MP and wins 50,000 votes will receive nothing.

A party that receives 2,000,000 votes nationally but fails to win a seat will receive nothing.

However, a Tory candidate who comes a miserable third in the very same seat behind the independent MP above, receiving 10,000 votes will receive £12,000!

The loser wins because they happen to belong to the political class club!

Cameron's plans are simply about political advantage over their main rival (ie bash the unions) whilst preserving the status quo of the eixsting political class.

Cameron plans to create two classes of MP's (those who receive funding and those who do not) and two classes of voters (those whose vote generates £1.20 for their candidate and those whose vote generates nothing).

I despise the idea of extending state funding, but if it must be done, the only fair way is to ensure *every* voter and vote is equal and receives the same.

Anything else is simply corruption to political gain.

..sorry one more from me. I should have noted that it is even worse, as the Tory who came third will actually generate £42,000 for the Tories based on a five year term (£1.2 per vote one off, then 60p per vote per year).

If this payment applied to *all* votes, it would encourage more independent voices, as that 50k vote MP would receive £60k up front, then an additional £30k pa (£210,000 over one parliament). Very useful.

However, of course he will get absolutely nothing as an independent voice under Cameron's formula. Punished for not being a member of the big parties.

Cameron is pushing the power of the collective over the individual.

No wonder! If it applied fairly and equally, you'd soon get candidates who could spend this considerable amount of money better themselves, not needing to be tied to the wasteful political class.

If it is going to happen anyway, what could be easier to understand for the electorate than 1 vote = £1?

But this isn't about 'cleaning up' politics, is it?

In America unions are in bed with our Democrats. The problem is they extract money from workers' paychecks for political contributions whether or not they are members of the Democratic party. Currently almost 40% are not Democrats. Legislation was written which would allow union rank and file the choice to opt out but of course it was defeated with near 100% opposition from the Democrats.

I don't know the membership but find it hard to believe just about every union member in the UK votes Labor. I would think as a matter of fundamental fairness the case could be made for policy similar to that attempted by our Republicans. Even if it failed it should make an impression with the non-union public at large.

Unions in the US are totally outdated. They had their rightful purpose decades ago. Its hardly ever about fighting unfair practices of big bad business but about power and more power under the self-centered notion of 'rights'.

(v quickly-got to go)

The difference, Steevo, is that the Democrats weren't founded by the unions in the way British Labour was.

A few years ago a union offical in the UK said "we are not the tail wagging the dog, we are the dog".

AFAIK, the Democrats weren't set up in the same way (though I'm happy to stand corrected)

A predictable end to talks then...

There wasnt going to be a deal here as no one was going to blink first.

Gordon Brown despises the unions. He would rather have a single non-domicile fund his General Election campaign, and he would rather give Ministerial office to Digby Jones.

So the unions should return the compliment. They should tell New Labour where to get off, and instead identify 10 "dream" policies and 10 "nightmare" policies, with ten per cent funding of any candidate (regardless of party, if any) for subscription to each of the former, minus ten per cent for failure to rule out each of the latter.

Union money should also at least help to fund the development and delivery of a qualification for "non-graduates" with life and work experience who aspire to become MPs.

I imagine the end game in mind for the neoTrots is an extra 1% on taxation to fund sitting Labour MP's and provide for lots of sinecures for mates/supporters etc and everyone else getting nothing.

Seriously though, the whole debate seems to be moving towards a one party state. It is very worrying.

What legislation is there in place to stop soft money in the UK? Surely someone as resourceful as Ashcroft would eventually find a loophole to get around this unfair legislation.

No to state funding of political parties of any kind, shape or form. Everything and anything else is fine as long as done openly and expressly and publicly accounted for and completely transparent

No to state funding of political parties of any kind, shape or form. Everything and anything else is fine as long as done openly and expressly and publicly accounted for and completely transparent

The only reason Labour can consider unilaterally deciding on the funding issue, is because the Conservatives have failed to kick up a really big fuss about Labour laundering tax payers money through the Unions under the guise of 'modernisation' money.

Labour have received some £17 million in contributions from the Unions, in the same period the Labour Government has given £10 million in 'modernisation' funds from the tax payer to the Unions.

I heard a formula one driver say you are either giving pressure, or you are having to take it, in other words the best sort of defence is attack. Unfortunately with blithering idiots like Maude leading the charge, its no surprise the Conservatives, when they should be leading on an issue, find themselves on the back foot!

"Union money should also at least help to fund the development and delivery of a qualification for "non-graduates" with life and work experience who aspire to become MPs."

An excellent idea, David.

The parallel to the Unions is public companies. If shareholders vote democratically, for a small amount to be deducted from their dividends and paid to a political party as a levy, why should firms be restricted in total to £50,000? If the objection is that some shareholders are wealthy and may also give personally and directly to the Tories, this is equally true of trade unionists.

Assuming that there is scope for opt-out by any shareholder, what is the objection to doing this? I assume that all unions do this scrupulously?
(Of course any company political donation ultimately comes out of shareholders pockets.)

Gordon Brown despises the unions
I think he sees them in political terms as being simply part of Labour's landscape still and that his best response is to do what he considers politically expedient with regard to them to keep Labour in power.

Gordon Brown and those around him see the best way of keeping Labour in power as being to allow the public perception to be that Tony Blair was divisive and that Gordon Brown is friendly towards the unions, however at many times in the past the Unions have carried measures through conference and blocked other measures where activists mostly held a very different position. I'm not sure he is quite ready to abandon the voting link because for one thing if Labour were going to lose Union contributions he would want to make it up from some other source, but even more so he is worried about how the greater influence of Labour activists might alter the party agenda out of his control and perhaps make it more likely that his successor was someone he did not want to lead the party, in opposition as well Labour's NEC and the Labour Conference have much greater power under Labour's constitution than when there is a Labour PM.

But this isn't about 'cleaning up' politics, is it?
It's starting to look a bit like a Ba'athist style nationalisation of the party political system.

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