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Cameron's plans are as confused as ever and provide cover for Brown to force through the state funding extension.

The official proposals on conservatives.com say that caps should be voluntary (ie no limits if you don't take the state funding route - point 2 iii).

Anything but 'no more state funding' is doing Brown's work for him.

I would like to hear the whole interview before commenting on the State Funding of political parties. If David Cameron thinks that state funding can be introduced without attracting a very significant amount of anger from grassroots Conservatives, he's wrong. I've yet to meet one person who is prepared to defend it in real life or by revealing their real name on a blog.
Well done Sayeeda Warsi, now let's hope our government makes the disgusting Sudanese who did this pay. I'm not holding my breath though.
Glad Mercer is going to advise the party but as a Conservative MP shouldn't he do this anyway?
Crick deserves a kicking. The fact that a Labour toady like him is the chief political correspondent of a flag ship BBC political show is a disgrace.

"Well done Sayeeda Warsi, now let's hope our government makes the disgusting Sudanese who did this pay. I'm not holding my breath though."

Great idea, Malcolm. And having yet *another* nation that hates our guts would help how, exactly?

State funding of political parties is simply wrong and should be resisted by anybody who believes in democracy.

Labour have done much more than take dubious donations. They have recruited, at public expense, all manner of advisers paid through the public purse and their mission is solely to promote the labour party.

On the donations fron t I simply do not believe that a control freak and party leader like Brown could not know who gives what to his party.

Hmmm. I don't like his tone on this one at all. Any further moves to state funding and I think many voters will be completely turned off from any political party, however well-intentioned and attractive in other areas.

I think Cameron is right that no increase in state funding is unrealistic. Maybe a way ahead would be to sunset clause the state funding and have it expire one year after a general election, that way you would increase the incentive to maximise the number of small scale donors and provide a means of treating an upscale of state funding now as a transitional measure.

First off, why does the Party pay money to hire the St Stephen's Club as a venue for these press conferences? The attendance, infamously, never reaches two dozen people - so why do we p*ss away cash on renting a room? Yes, Howard, and Cameron, completely ballsed up in terms of the office space they've rented post-Smith Square. But since both Labour and even the Liberals have the wit to realise that a conference room on site saves money for events like this, why do we need to go to Queen Anne's Gate?

Next, Ashcroft is a disaster in the making, and the comparison with Sainsbury and Mittal is typically disengenuous. Are either Mittal or Sainsbury running a party within a party? Does Mittal or Sainsbury personally - and outrageously - invigilate every would-be Labour MP with a serious chance of being elected, right down to the level of telling them how to campaign if they want funding? Which of Mittal or Sainsbury physically squats in a fair sized fraction of Labour's HQ? Can Mittal or Sainsbury gainsay everyone in the party organisation they belong to? Plainly Mittal and Sainsbury don't operate entirely outside the scrutiny of the party they belong to, as obviously they're not operating in anything like the Blofeld manner Ashcroft does. But since Ashcroft *does* operate without any formal oversight by party structures (up to and including the leader), how can we compare what he gets up to with either Sainsbury or Mittal? All they did was hand over the cash and leave it at that. On one can seriously claim that's what Ashcroft does.

All of which brings us to the biggest problem with Ashcroft. What exactly does he do? He spends an enormous amount of money, but - given the current climate of scandal, in terms of what is properly reported to the Electoral Commission - where exactly does this appear? Does the party admit that he's spending it on its behalf? That he's funding 3rd party activities, such as commissioning polls, or undertaking research or engaging in 'campaigning' which is solely designed to benefit the party, but which never actually crops up on what "the Party" formally declares to the Electoral Commission in terms of its gross expenditure?

Watch this space: what 'Ashcroft' has done, but what the Party hasn't yet admitted to being done for its sole beenfit is where this story goes next.

I would not be prepared to top up the salaries of party workers who are effectively on the government payroll. I would be prepared to donate more to support a party with no government support.

For 'on one', please read 'no one', ahem.

One message to take from this might be, if you don't want more state money to go to political parties, donate.

"He opposes controls on political spending between elections"

This is a very good point by David Cameron, vital if we are to have effective opposition and if government is to be held to account. Its all too easy for the government of the day to circulate their ideas in the media and opposition parties quite often have to shout very loud just to be heard.

DC isn't quite right that Stalin McBean has either been incompetent or crooked over party donations. It is becoming increasingly obvious that he has actually been both.

"He opposes controls on political spending between elections"

...but he supports denying independent MP's the same access to state funds as party affiliated ones.

This is not about democracy. The only differences between the big parties on state funding are on points they consider tactically more advantageous for themselves.

Remember, all three parties support more state funding in one form or another. They all agree on this point.

It's our money everyone, not theirs and Cameron and Brown +LibDem2Be are discussing how it is right to take our money to keep themselves in the manner they have became used to before the public saw through them and stopped giving so generously.

Oh wake up Comstock. There are many in Sudan that hate our guts anyway or hadn't you noticed? We've done nothing to them but they pick on a defenceless lady who'se been trying to help them. It makes me sick to my stomach that we keep diplomatic relations and give these people aid.
ACT. You have any evidence of any wrongdoing by Lord Ashcroft whatsoever? If you do produce it or shut the hell up.

To say that it is unrealistic to impose a £50k cap and not state funding is only unrealistic if one believes that current levels of spending by parties should be the norm. Parties have become accustomed to spending at current levels, and are naturally reluctant to change of their own accord. If they adjusted their expectations to match spending to levels that would match income raised without state funding and with a cap in place, this then becomes a perfetly realistic option. Therefore what we are talking about is willingness on the part of political parties to accept lower spending rather than any question of whether its realistic. Perhaps its now time for a review by non politicians of what the public wants political parties to do, and most importantly what, if anything, its prepared to pay them to do it.

Thank you for this Editor.
This is the sort of thing ConHome does best:
None of us could be at that press conference and we get a fast and what seems a reasonably comprehensive account of what went on. He brings us outsiders into the Westminster village a little bit more.

I for one would happily give more money to the party if I thought it needed it. At the moment I'm disinclinedbecause what's the use of my £50 if Ashcroft and Spencer are putting in millions? I'm better giving that money to other causes that don't have fat walletted patrons.

If politicians can't spend the money we voluntarily give them properly, why do we let them take more and more in tax?

State funding will be the biggest disaster in our political system and practically let these over-spending politicians waste more and more of our money. We have to put our foot down and tell them theyre not getting one penny more of our money in tax!

Malcolm, doesn't it strike you as odd in a country where so few can read or write, that thoses calling for the death penalty for Gillian were carrying neatly printed banners? These people are being used.

From what I have read it is not even clear if the majority of Sudaneese supported the prison sentence, let alone a death sentence.

And the president of Sudan has done something pretty radical in overruling his judges and granting a pardon. Could you imagine the British Prime Minister doing something similar? (apart from anything else I'm not sure he/she has that power?). Shouldn't he be praised for what he has done?

St Stephen's Club is now a private club, the members sold it to the guy who rang the catering about 6 yrs back. That is why the room has to be rented and rightly so - otherwise acusations of sleaze etc.

Editor: David Cameron replied that he thought that it "unrealistic" to impose a £50,000 limit on private donations and say "no additional state funding."

What word does he use to describe a party that spends more than its income?

Congratulations to Sayeeda Warsi for her part in arranging the release of Gillian Gibbons.

I was impressed with the majority of what David Cameron said.

He is right that Labour are trying to divert attention away from the current scandal by talking about the Phillips proposals. They should not be allowed to.

He is right that we should not blow the issues around party funding out of proportion.

He is right that we should not 'nationalise' our political parties.

In which case why does he propose then to support the government push forward on the most fundamental aspect of the nationalisation of political parties, that being, imposing a massive increase in state funding for political parties from the taxpayer?

There would likely be no need for it if political parties stopped putting their own self-interest before the interests of our democracy.

No political party is so essential to our democratic system that it must survive at all costs. No political party has a god given right to exist!

Taking money from the taxpayer for policy development pushes the concept of state finding to the edge of reason. Taking state funding as a bonus for donations and as a poll tax goes way beyond the line.

Having recovered his position from the summer is DC intent on wrecking it once more?

If there is one area where the parties policy is in complete disarray it is in its approach to our democracy. EVfEl/EGC is a joke and the socialist concept of state funding for political parties is an affront to democracy.

When are the Conservatives going to come up with some real equitable and just policies in this area that are truly democratic and not parliamentarian elitism. When are they going to propose policies that represent a benefit for our democracy and not a benefit to the party?

Punishing the taxpayer for the impropriety and incompetence of political parties.

Cameron said 'Power to the People' but he seems to have really meant 'Power to the people only when it does not impinge on power to the party'.

In the most fundamental matter of our democracy the Conservatives are currently no better than any of the other major parties. A plague on all their houses.

I believe this will drive voters away from the ballot box.

And if electoral turnout at GE's drops below 50% (it was only 60%) at the last election. Will the UK Government actually have a mandate at all?

What then.....?

Cameron, Brown et al are playing with fire.


Um, that was my point - we shouldn't be paying money to rent a room to stage these press conferences. Meanwhile, interesting, hysterical reaction by Malcolm Dunn, who used the word 'wrongdoing'. Try again Malcolm. The issue here is 'doing'. What is Ashcroft doing? And since he's doing it for the party, why doesn't the party declare (to the Electoral Commission) what he's done for them? A question the Electoral Commission has been too timid, inadequate and witless to ask hitherto. Believe me when I tell you that, in response to Labour pressure, they're going to start asking it. The answers are going to be needlessly embarrassing, because Ashcroft should never have been allowed to do what, off book, he's currently doing.

I am a Cameron supporter, which makes what he has to say on party funding all the more disappointing.

You've described Ashcroft as "a disaster in the making" without actually producing evidence that his behaviour has been/will be/is disastrous.

The cost of renting a room in St. Stephen's club would be pretty trivial.

Does political satire qualify as a linkable post, because the Daily Mash has hit the nail on the head today with it's state-funding send-up article "Buy me a caravan or I'll steal one Brown tells Taxpayers"

Can’t believe that DC mentioned Regional Assemblies … they cost nothing their abolition will save nothing.

In 2006 they cost £17.8m: see House of Commons written answers 2nd & 10th May 2006

Come on DC, just get a grip.

I agree that state funding of political parties is an affront to democracy. If parties are struggling financially they should do what most people in the real world have to do: cut spending and/or increase income. The government already takes too much of our national income and I believe MPs as a whole are over-rewarded (particularly so given the predominance of EU legislation).

It's not trivial - depending on the function, hiring the room Cameron uses costs up to 6 grand. And of course, any 'discounted' rate the party gets formally needs to be declared to the Electoral Commission as a benefit in kind.

As far as Ashcroft goes, as I say, watch this space. All donations, in kind, to political parties are, by law, meant to be declared as such to the Electoral Commission.

So let's take then an entirely theoretical, and very wealthy, excessively private individual, and consider how the law should apply to him or her. If he or she: paid for polls and then shared them exclusively with one political party, this would be a benefit in kind (it being in fact identical to that party itself spending its own money on such polls) and should therefore be declared to the Electoral Commission as expenditure by that party (and, in effect, a donation by the person who sponsored the polling); if said private individual paid for campaigning or researching which one political party then used indistinguishably from its own research or campaigning resources, that too would once again constitute both a donation to the party in question, which should be declared as such by the individual in question, and, would be liable to be added to that party's total expenditure as declared to the Electoral Commission.

If anyone thinks we're going to come out of this smelling of roses, you're admirably optimistic.

The Telegraph's 'Three Line Whip' covers Mr Cameron's press conference too.

Andrew Porter in The Telegraph: "The “Ashcroft question” still irritates Tory high command, although Mr Cameron waved it away with a new defence which he first aired on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday. Lakshmi Mittal and David Sainsbury give more to Labour and they don’t have the constant attention Lord Ashcroft attracts, he said. Good try, but neither man has an office in party head quarters and a seeming day-to-day role in the workings of the party."

First off, why does the Party pay money to hire the St Stephen's Club as a venue for these press conferences?
ACT- do you actually know if we are paying to use this? I suspect that as the party oftens uses this facility, the reason coiuld be that the owner is sympathetic and may well have made a gift in kind,?

As regards your comments regarding Lord Ashcroft, there is plenty of information declared to the Electoral Commission:-

Bearwood Coporate Services Ltd
status: Company
company reg no: 00709846 Arcadia House
Maritime Walk
Ocean Village
SO14 3TL
£ 424,959.00
nature: Consultancy focus groups, opinion, research, printing and related costs

Bearwood is Lord Ashcroft's company and this clearly states what he has been funding.

Lord Ashcroft is not a 'numpty', he is a skilled operator who as far as one can tell scruplously declares everything he does for the party.

From what I can gather, the majority of candidates and leadership are very happy with what they have tasked him to do. In any case he is accountable via not just the Leader but also the Party Board.

And lastly if all the party members feel that badly about it then there's nothing stopping us all deciding to send the party the extra £10 per year that Lord Ashcroft is donating ( based upon 250,000 members that is ( £2.5 million) rather than bleating on about it.

Howvever given the length of debate etc that went on about raising the minimum subs to £25 from £15 that is as likely as a cow jumping over the moon.

Oh yes and the disputes over membership for quota payments a measley £5 if your please!

I think ACT is on to something. Why don't they just hold these conferences in the Commons?

ACT if you have evidence that the law relating to political donations has been broken, I suggest you submit it to the Electoral Commission, rather than endlessly dropping hints on this website.

If you don't have such evidence, then I'd suggest a period of silence on your part would be welcome.

As someone that is still writing letters and Freedom of Information requests regarding the funding of the North East Regional Assembly, I would be interested to know exactly what Mr Cameron had to say on this issue - thank you.


By 'we' I take it you referring to yourself, and other Labour Party spin doctors. I agree, not rosy at all.

ACT,I asked you if you could produce any evidence whatsoever no matter how small that anything Lord Ashcroft is doing is in any way whatsoever improper you should produce it or shut up.Could you do that ? Could you hell! Thought so.
Yes you're right Comstock. We should be extremely grateful for the actions of that lovely man the President Of Sudan. We should also pity those poor people who called for Gillian Gibbons to be lashed or even killed for what she did. They were obviously misinformed or being used and have no ability to think for themselves. Perhaps if we doubled or trebled our aid they might feel a bit better about the British.
Give me strength.

I appreciate that because this story hasn't broken yet, it's fractionally hard to understand. So once more: if you do soemthing for a political party, so that it doesn't have to do it itself, that needs to be declared to the Electoral Commission twice over. You have to declare yourself as the effective donor, and, the Party in question has to declare such expenditure as part of its overall spending total. Pointing, as some above have, to where this legal formality has happened leaves the vast, grey area of where it hasn't, yet, happened. As I say, watch this space. But as I also say, this disaster in the making is hardly, Sean, the fault of people like me who are pointing it out - it's the fault of the people who did it, and of those who let it be done.

Oh and rant away Malcolm. My entire point is an entirely partisan, albeit regretful Tory one. By own our inactions and mistakes we are about to transform what should just have been a period of deserved abuse for Labour into another tedious bout of the media being able to say, 'they're all just as bad as one another'. As and when the story, in this regard, breaks, you can come back and apologise for your intemperate outbursts. I'm still not entirely sure though why it is you want me or anyone else to do Labour and the BBC's work for them.

So, place your cards on the table, ACT. Are you asserting that Lord Ashcroft and/or the Conservative Party have broken the law (and remember the law of defamation applies to the internet?)

I'm well aware of the law Sean. The Party has not declared all of its income, nor all of its expenditure to the Electoral Commission. Happy? I'm not.

So are you asserting that by doing so, the Party is in breach of the law?

Malcolm Dunn: you're being insensitive. I should have thought it obvious that Gillian Gibbons is the vanguard of a sinister Crusader plot to undermine Islam by infiltrating teddy bears into the Sudan. If the authorities hadn't nipped it in the bud she would have moved on to something really nasty, like line dancing.

You can tell the Sudanese Govmt are thoroughly nice chaps: they detained Gillian for a shorter period than Gordon Brown wants to detain us under new anti-terror laws. (Or, alternatively, the system in Sudan is a bit more efficient and speedy than it is over here. None of that Yates-of-the-Yard 18 month enquiry rubbish in Khartoum!)

What worries me is the thought that there are lots of teddy bears in the UK already, and none of them have ID Cards.

William Norton - oddly enough, several contributors to the Birmingham CF site seem to accept that analysis, in all seriousness.

This is utter nonsense, Act. All Labour's sleaziest troops have dug around Lord A for years. His corporate donations are public, above board and wholly legal and transparent. Believe you me Labour have done their best to prove otherwise. I work in a target seat and the funds we get - main party funds not Lord A's personal money by the way - are targeted in a businesslike way on solid campaign activities. If you ask me Lord Ashcroft has been far more valuable to the marginal seats campaign with his brilliant focus on nuts and bolts campaign plans, the strategy is more important than the money which anyway is only 4%.

Here's one Tory activist who is deeply grateful to Lord Ashcroft for continuing to support the party.

Sean Fear: are you suggesting I'm not serious about The Teddy Bear Menace threatening our country? We face the horror of swamping from the uncontrolled immigration of millions of foreign stuffed toys.

The Daily Mash puts over the state funding issue in a humorous light.

Gordon Brown wants us to buy him a Caravan

Does David Cameron want us to buy him one too?

William - Did you see the Matt cartoon in the Telegraph today? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/Matt/pMattTemplate.jhtml;jsessionid=HL5BMZSWG3MU5QFIQMGCFF4AVCBQUIV0

Two teddy bears. One is saying to the other: "You think you've got problems - I'm called Harriet Harman"!

Can I sum up Activist's post? "Man who gets money from Ashcroft says Ashcroft A-Okay". Plainly another A List superstar.

Andrew Lilico: this is Gordon Brown's opportunity to regain control of the news agenda. He must promise to clamp down on this latest terror threat by establishing a new border control force (Of-Ted).

William you've blown my cover! Perhaps if I chose to post using initials and make snide and unprovable allegations like ACT here rather than posting under my real name I could have got away with it!

Malcolm - you could use NBG?

It is plain wrong for politicians to conspire together to compel the taxpayer to pay for their parties. It is an abuse of their power and goes against the well-known opposition of the great majority of the general public - whatever the colour of their politics.

As a Conservative party member I would be bound to cease I am forced to pay up through my tax bill.

ANY so-called 'state-funding' is undemocratic. Cameron should be opposed on principle.

But there is also the tactical consideration that the Labour Party are far more desperate to pick the public's pockets than we are. It would be pretty stupid for Cameron to help them to solve their financial problems by robbing the rest of us.

WN, what's NBG?.

That should read, "I would be bound to cease paying my voluntary subscriptions if I were forced to pay up through my tax bill."

Frank McGarry:

I fully agree with you and will be following a similar course.

Also I will be far more selective in who and when I vote. If the Conservatives persist in supporting state funding then they will not get my vote in EU elections. I'm not going to 'pay' to be part of an organisation I don't want to be part of.

Whats worse by including the Assembly elections in this outrage in effect they are asking me as a taxpayer to subsidise the SNP. As a unionist I think that is outrageous!

And if the BNP become a qualified party....?

This is a major shift in Conservative thinking.

The leader of the Tory party believes he has the right to dip into taxpayers pockets, simply in order prop up the current income of a voluntary organisation deemed worthy by him.

We expect this of Labour and the LibDems, but not of the Conservatives.

In principle, how can Cameron oppose the government propping up Northern Rock?

Sure the amounts are different, but this is just another example of a politician propping up failing pet organisations by stealing funds from us.

No to state funding of political parties. The parties will just have to get by with less money.

Besides, who needs big budgets in the age of the internet?

Don't make this huge mistake DC!

Has Cameron learnt nothing from fundrasising in the US? Look at the Ron Paul Presidential campaign. An UNOFFICIAL fundraising drive raised $4.5 million from over 20,000 donors in ONE DAY. And that's the guy who mainstream media ignores!!

I will not support a parasite party that will collaborate with Labour in sucking more blood from hard pressed taxpayers. The begging letter from my local association that arrived in the post this morning has just been binned.

We cannot have our cake and eat it. We cannot demand no state funding at all, and at the same time seek to sharply limit the amount of private funding available.

Cameron seems to be steering the right course on this - maximum donation of £50k from any single source, spending limits on national campaigns, and an increase in state funding to cover some of the shortfall.

"We cannot demand no state funding at all, and at the same time seek to sharply limit the amount of private funding available."

Why the hell not?

No party has any 'entitlement' to a certain minimum income.

If they can't maintain their current lifestyle off the sub 50k donations then they are just going to have adjust their bloody spending!

I want no state funding and no limits on donations. The choice is freedom or statism and Cameron wants statism. I will not donate whilst the Conservative Party wants more state funding.

Under our proposals state funding is the quid pro quo of accepting the donation cap. The Maude system recognises that new parties could not come into existence if there were a donation cap, so the donation cap is voluntary. Since the donation cap can't be mandatory, parties need an incentive to abide by it. That incentive is the availability of state funding.

State funding is thus the inevitable concomitant of having a maximum donation. Since state funding is (or at least should be, for a Conservative) anathema, the answer is staring you in the face: Don't have a cap on donations! The whole idea is stupid, and its effect would be (a) to vest the position of established parties; and (b) to force people to pay their taxes to fund the BNP; and as a consequence of (b) we will have (c) mass withholding of taxes.

It's all madness! There is not the slightest reason to prevent wealthy people from giving donations to political parties. Not the slightest reason.

Adam In London:

We cannot have our cake and eat it. We cannot demand no state funding at all, and at the same time seek to sharply limit the amount of private funding available.

Cameron seems to be steering the right course on this - maximum donation of £50k from any single source, spending limits on national campaigns, and an increase in state funding to cover some of the shortfall.

You are completely wrong! There is no reason why donation caps equates to state funding.

Basically, there is plenty the party can do to raise funds if the leadership (central and local) would just get up of their fat backsides and do something. I'm sure there are individual associations that are very good at raising funds but there are a lot who are not.

The taxpayer must not be penalised and asked to subsidise political parties. It is anti-democratic and those politicians who support it are little better than benefit scroungers.

In conclusion Adam politicians should make their own cake and not try steal a share of the taxpayers.

"It's all madness! There is not the slightest reason to prevent wealthy people from giving donations to political parties. Not the slightest reason." Andrew Lilico @17:01

I agree totally. To even begin to go down the line of state funding (and I include short money) is to play into Labour and Illiberal Dems hands. The parties have to both deserve and "earn" the necessary funding.

I choose to give what I do to the Conservative Party as a matter of free will.

'if you don't want more state money to go to political parties, donate.'

Doesn't this constitute demanding money with menaces?

I think transparency is more important than whether someone wants to donate money and how much. The real scandal, one that Labour is trying to divert attnetion from as Cameron says, is the huge allowances and communications funds its MPs have pushed through. This means that anyone that tries to challenge an incumbent is up against staffed offices and taxpayer funds being used for party propaganda.

At a very basic level here we have a common political problem: Someone hasn't abided by a rule, so Something Must Be Done, so we introduce another rule - even though no-one has shown that the original rule was inadequate except in its observance.

So I ask:

a) What is the problem here that State Funding is trying to address?


b) What is the problem that restrictions on anonymous donations is try to address?

I put it to you that there is no problem here at all, beyond the "Westminster Village" problem of the political classes not wanting to abide by stupid and pointless rules that they should never have introduced in the first place.

There is no problem of corruption in donations in British politics, and no reason at all to have any restriction on such donations.

Andrew Lilico:Don't have a cap on donations! The whole idea is stupid, and its effect would be (a) to vest the position of established parties; and (b) to force people to pay their taxes to fund the BNP; and as a consequence of (b) we will have (c) mass withholding of taxes.

I don't think it's stupid, I think this is a missed opportunity.

DC could have said: we will voluntarily refuse donations from a single source over £50k pa; if Labour unilaterally introduce more state funding we will refuse it; I put the other parties on notice that if Brown puts his hand in the till now then the next Conservative Govmt will legislate to force any party to repay the money (which we regard as tantamount to embezzlement); and we'll do the same with inflated communications allowances (which are propaganda slush funds); and we'll apply the cap to the unions; this will produce short-term financial hardship for my party but we are the party which acts on its principles; I now launch an immediate appeal for new members.

Result: impregnable Tory position; flood of new members; financial skids for Brown.

Former Donor

In your attempt to make a point by throwing away the appeal letter from your local Association you make the problem you foresee worse.

Local associations in the main get NO support from CCHQ - unless you are a marginal all the money for campaigning comes from local donations/subscriptions.. and that is how it should be.

Go and get the letter out of the bin and get your wallet out ! :-)

I am in a marginal, "Treacle". And my candidate is one of Dave's useless A-list wimmin.

"we'll apply the (50k) cap to the unions"

Let me try and explain why the unions should be exempt.

A union is a network of thousands of individual members. So if a union gives money it is actually a mass of little donations, not one big one. By joining a union you are joining a movement of which Labour is the political wing.

This is the way the Labour party was set up- as the Labour Representation Committee- this is how it is supposed to work.

David Cameron should grasp the chance to make the running on this and disown any support for state funding. The idea is hugely repugnant to voters.

The cap idea is a red herring, most individuals can immediately double it by giving via their spouse / civil partner, whatever; companies through subsidiaries, unions likewise.

He should be concentrating on the angle that there are laws in place to ensure transparency (which for many people is the biggest issue), and there's no point introducing new laws until the Labour Party agree that the existing ones apply to them as well as everyone else.

Comstock is talking collectivist rubbish. The individual union members have no say about whether or how much the union donates to Labour. Many union members vote for other parties and are, in effect, conscripted into supporting Labour.

Comstock you are talking about an extremely idealised and no longer true situation.

As a trade union member (by circumstance rather than choice - if anybody wants an explanation just ask) it has amazed me just how much money is squandered and how little applied to supporting the members at large. The only conculion I reached is that the membership is starved of support in order to donate to labour.

Comstock, so you are saying that each union member is given a free choice of which party should get their donation, and 100% of them choose Labour?

The crux of this problem is that the labour party has been corrupt so far as its finances are concerned. Rather than address their problems they are dissembling and blaming anybody and everbody other than themselves.

There is no justification for caps on donations other than a rather cheap attempt at PR. There was nothing wrong with loans other selling titles to go with them.

"As a trade union member (by circumstance rather than choice - if anybody wants an explanation just ask)"

Yes, please. I'd be facinated to know have you've become a trade union member against your will.


Chad, the union will donate to which ever party they feel will represent the interests of their members best. Thats almost always Labour, but there have been precedidents of unions supporting the SNP.

If one works (as I did until very recently) for a local authority in the control of pretty extreme left wingers you discover that bullying is encouraged by total neglect and that preference is totally dependant on toeing party lines and if one lifts one's head above the parapet there is a very real risk of having one's employment put in jeopardy then a trade union can offer some (limited) help.

Working in that environment gives a insight into labour corruption and the current donor problems come as absolutely no surprise. Reminds me of animal farm.

Thanks Comstock, I've no experience of how unions work.

However, working in the way you describe, it is clearly a single large donation rather than a lots of little ones, as the individuals have no say where the money goes and the % of money flowing to one party will not reflect the % of members supporting that party.

I really can't see how that, in reality, is any different than a millionaire business owner giving a large donation to the Tories because he thinks they will be the best choice for his company and employees etc.

(..and I say that as a product of a Mirror-reading, 'hate the fat cat barstewards', Labour household).

" it is clearly a single large donation rather than a lots of little ones, as the individuals have no say where the money goes "

Well the union members can have a vote on whether/how much to donate and to which party. I would admit a fair number of union members don't actively involved though, but that it the way it is supposed to work.

"(..and I say that as a product of a Mirror-reading, 'hate the fat cat barstewards', Labour household)."

And I'm a product of a 'Working class thatcherite' Daily Mail reading household.

Funny old world innit! :D

Re Comstock @: 18.23. Thousands of union members vote for parties other than Labour. I know of quite a lot of union members who are Conservative councillors. Unions are not and should not be the political wing of any party. People join Unions nowadays for all sorts of reasons and yet those unions assume that they are Labour supporters. What you seem to be saying is the Unions are an agent to collect money for a party. If thats the case ask them to collect money for all the parties or at least say that the assumption is that the Unions would be better being independent and get people to opt-in if they want to give money to Labour. By asking for opt-outs it looks like the unions are hoping people can't be bothered or feel pressure not to.


There should be no state funding for any political party. Existing state funding should be stopped. There should be strict limits on all political spend with all loopholes that allow the governing party to benefit closed.

There should also be very strict limits and controls on all MPs "expenses".

Fraser Nelson has a piece on Mr Cameron's news conference on the Spectator's Coffee House blog.

I've not been reading conhome for that long, but during the time I have been here I've never read a single positive point from ACT that isn't lost in a flood of negativity. Either someone in the party has upset or offended you, or you're Labour or (God forbid) Lib Dem. Either way, you've made your 'point', now kindly sod off.

Back on topic, neither Cameron nor Brown is not getting a brass farthing in taxation from me. The very suggestion disgusts and apalls me. I really don't give a monkeys if the rate is set 'low' -what is to stop any government putting it up as with other taxes.

I'd be perfectly happy to see unions donate more than £50k if:

a) The donation was made by members collectively who had:

b) opted IN to a levy seperate and quite distinct from their trade union subscription and:

c) received full Labour party membership rights as a result and:

d) Each union may not give a penny more or less than the levy and:

e) There was no government subsidy to trade unions.

Unions often don't tell their members they are paying political levy and there is too much doubt about the origin of funds donated to the Labour party.

There is too much mutual backscratching going on.

The Conservative Party definitely isnt perfect. When Maude was Chairman under Cameron he changed the fundraising rules so that instead of 5% of the subscription going to Central Office, it was £5, meaning at least 20% in reality. Central Office takes 5% of every donation given to Associations as well. Cameron would have signed off these internal reforms.

Central Office takes more money from Associations than ever before. Localism in practice, eh?

@ 'Simon' - positive thoughts only! Four legs good, two legs better!

If you read on, my own post is hardly positive/on message is it? I have no problem with people making criticisms of the party, God knows it needs it sometimes, but I do have a problem with posters whose entire posting history apears to be a wind-up. I just think it's a bit sad.

Bully for you. Good luck cheering the rest of us up.

I absolutely agree with Mark Williams when he says:

"I would be prepared to donate more to support a party with no government support."

In fact, having received the other day a circular letter from David Cameron asking me to consider donating centrally, I have decided to write back and say "not unless you set your face against State funding (apart from Short money for Parlimentary work)".

David Cameron should say: "No, we do not want State funding as political parties need to survive or die by their own efforts, and should not be spending taxpayers' money that would otherwise be supporting public services, but we realise that is tough. That is why we are asking every Conservative supporter who can afford it, and who agrees with this view, to commit to donating £200 a year to the central party to make this possible. We are calling this voluntary levy "Freedom money" and everyone who contributes this between now and the next election will be invited to a party attending by me and the new Cabinet within six months of me moving into Downing Street. Even if you don't like Parties, or parties, the Freedom Club is the most worthwhile club you could ever join. I challenge the other Parties to set up their own. Let's stop preparing to force our hands into taxpayers' pockets and persuade people that politics is worth paying for - voluntarily."

Great minds obviously think alike Londoner,I did exactly the same thing!

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