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I agree with you 100% on this one, Editor! Positioning ourselves at this time as the "anti-establishment" party can only be a good thing. Not only will it attract the "little guys" but it will also appeal to many others - especially young people.

Good interview by Mr Cameron this morning. The less-is-more philosophy is definitely a winner. People have grown completely distrustful of the clunking state fielding every aspect of their lives. David Cameron's comments on the trades unions being able to buy policy through funding, and therefore being a corrupt practice is so important. No body should be able to buy the ear of a government. The question of union funding should have been addressed decades ago. I am not anti-union, in fact I think a trades union representing the interests of a workforce is yet another vessel of democracy. However when unions become political, have a political agenda, and donate to a political party, they no longer represent their workforce and lose all democratic credentials.

Hear! hear! (to Editor and Sally Roberts).

DC, if he takes the Editor's extremely sensible advice, will have to watch out for the EU gravy-trainers, though. These sell-outs have, both at home and in Brussels, proved themselves very adept at attempts to scupper plans made on this side of the channel.

Editor, you give a 'thumbnail' description above, of a more localised approach to government, something that has been discussed, here, before, as a concept (because as yet I don't remember any concrete ideas), I find it attractive. The phrase - anti-establishment party - has distinct possibilities, as it should appeal to the young - as Sally suggests, but at the same time there are echoes for people around in the sixties. I would like to see some more concrete ideas being considered.

I somehow don't think that Gordon Brown would be interested in pinching any ideas along these lines, given his preferred methods of heavy, dogmatic, central control in governing.

I am also not sure about lots of little political parties - 'divide and rule' as the phrase goes!

Absolutely no more state funding for political parties. If they don't command popular support, let them wither.

The Editor certainly gets it correct, unfortunately I cannot see Cameron taking the least notice, he wants the money. I have not seen any attempt by him to call for smaller government. Oh, one exception, he made a speech in Prague which one could have applauded, pity it was not made here.

The amount of money that Gordon Brown has wasted - literally - since he has been in government, first as a chancellor, and now as PM, he would never, ever have 'made it' as a businessman running a company.

The first thing to do is not to take more money from the taxpayer but to spend and waste less. Anyone who has ever worked at CCO/ CCHQ knows the extraordinary level of waste that exists.

Remember Cameron has specifically skewed his proposals in the most undemocratic way so that independent MP's getting nothing, not a bean, whereas losing LibLabCon ppc's earn tens of thousands of pounds for their parties.

Cameron is an equal part of this funding scam to prop up the current political class.

The way Cameron says that by accepting a cap, extra state funding is 'necessary' reveals another MP who feels that he has some right to take *our* money whenever he see fit.

If we must have more state funding, then every voter's vote should be equal, and receive the same amount. Anything less is simply an undemocratic scam.

I agree that "anti-establishment" sounds a bit rebellious. How about "anti-all-powerful government."

Derek W. Buxton, you do David Cameron a disservice. Mr Cameron has already spoken about letting independent schools develop and giving the voluntary sector more say in social projects. I'm very interested to see what will come forward by way of welfare reform too. Ideally I'd like to see jobcentreplus broken up and those looking for work given the opportunity to look for work through independent job-seeking agencies. Smaller groups operating independently of the state, motivated by profit or altruism can be so much more effective. The existing state structures are too large and too cumbersome to be flexible when change is required. Less can be more.

Daily Referendum: What's wrong with being "a bit rebellious" against this revolting government?
I agree with the Editor's whole approach here. We've got to realise the extent to which people are sick and tired of not just this government but of the way we're governed.
We should be the 'small and local is beautiful' party.... as has been written on this website before.

How right you are Editor. There should be no state funding of political parties full stop.

Our taxes forcibly corralled for vested interest groups? No! No! No!

Better that there are no political parties and we are genuinely represented by MPs who are not at the beck and call of non-democratic organisations like parties.


Sure, Cameron has said many warm words, but what has he actually pledged to reduce the size of the tax take? Nothing.

Cameron won't commit himself to even having a lower tax freedom day after 5 years of Tory govt as an *aspiration*! (My question on this was presented to him on the Telegraph site - so he was asked directly).

It is certainly becoming obvious that we have to get rid of this wretched government, no matter what, but we're clearly not going to get any real difference in voting Cameron in.

This state funding scam from Cameron really makes my blood boil like no other issue (yes, not even the EU treaty) and is probably the first time in 2 years I've felt like writing another platform piece as the public are clearly being deceived about what exactly is being proposed.

Chad Noble, do you not think that ultimately the proposals on state funding might be an opportunity to finally extricate the trades unions out of party politics?

I must admit I'm not at all convinced that state funding would work and that it may well shut the door on independents. Plus there is the question of whether the state should subsidize parties that stand on an openly racist, religious or dogmatic agenda, and then how do we define those concepts?

Its a more complicated subject than it appears. One thing is for sure though, we can't allow people to buy the ear of the government of the day through huge donations. So some reform is definitely needed.

Cameron is not being radical enough on party funding and as a result voters will not differentiate the Tories from the other parties, viewing them all as equally corrupt in this area. He should be arguing for an end to all funding by bodies corporate - unions, companies and shadowy business councils alike - as well as donor and spending caps. Democracy is based on influence arising from one person, one vote; party funding by such corporations is about buying influence by the back door. If Cameron said that he would sound genuinely different from Brown. Add in a popular pledge on 'no state funding' and he could take care of the LibDems too.

I agree 100% with the Editor; we should really be putting our foot down over this issue. However, I honestly don't think that Brown will ever be prepared to cap union donations, and I'm pretty sure he'd have to fight the unions tooth and nail to do it anyway. I believe he's paying lip service to the notion to distract attention from the torrent of scandals. I agree that the Conservatives should really just walk away from this whole funding debate, but I honestly can't see much progress happening anyway.

Jenifer Wells,

I totally agree, I was just grasping for something better than anti-establishment. Your 'small and local is beautiful' is just about spot on.

And Cameron didn't know what was going on North of the Border. Wendy is in deep do do. Guido has more on this today - and Harriet is in more trouble.

Instead of capping donations to parties, politics would be a lot healthier if the approach were the other way around - cap the amount parties can spend on electioneering.

Level the playing field - all three main parties are allowed to spend the same amount and no more. And make it a small amount as well. That would focus minds. No more of the obscenely expensive glossy TV ads and billboards telling lies about your political opponents (all parties do it).

Instead elections could be fought with public meetings and footsoldiers on the doorstep - which might even (shock, horror) have the result of re-engaging people in politics.

well you'd get my vote Ed! Small government,
small business, individual freedom, personal responsibility, challenging the vested interests in the public and private sectors are all reasons why I became a Tory.

Have to say I like DC's idea about less politicians though - perhaps he could start with the Welsh Assembly and push the whole corrupt entity out into Cardiff Bay.

Thanks everyone.

I really do think there's a winning theme here...

We must be the party that brings all of the talent to the nation's problems...

We'll put people who've actually run things in charge of government's responsibilities...

Poverty-fighters who have actually succeeded in helping people off welfare will get a bigger share of the welfare budget...

Ordinary voters will decide which parties get funded - not big donors or big government...

The great mystery is why the unions support Labour at all these days. Especially considering the way the Labour government have abused the poor during their period in office. The unions have always been a political force rather than a body to represent workers democracy. My dad was a shop steward and I well remember the miners strike during the Heath era and as a curious boy of twelve I asked my dad what the strike was all about and he said "Its to bring down the Tory government" he added, and I've never forgotten this, "You have to understand that all strikes are political". That was certainly an education to me, and in later years I came to realise that the politicized unions were a real danger to democracy around the world.

"Chad Noble, do you not think that ultimately the proposals on state funding might be an opportunity to finally extricate the trades unions out of party politics?

Hi Tony, of course.

However, what has *actually* been proposed to replace it, takes out the unions and the big donors, and creates a system that insulates the big three parties by denying the same income to people outside this political class.

Can you really defend Cameron proposal where a winning independent candidate earns nothing, but a losing Tory ppc earns tens of thousands of pounds for the party?

Anything that kills competition cannot be a good thing.

If we must have extra state funding, then every voter's vote must be equal and must be awarded the same income, whether they vote for the Tories or an independent MP, for example.

Cameron and the others have used the 'BNP' argument to actually push anyone outside the big three parties into the cold by starving them of equal income potential.

Creating two classes of voter (those whose vote earns money for their elected candidate and those who whose vote earns nothing) is much, much worse than the current system.

I hate the idea of extra state funding, but if we must (and we will) get it, then the parties should be pushed to ensure that *every* voter's vote is equal.

From my blog 29th November - Labour Corruption Hurts The Little Guy.

The stories coming out at the moment like Abrahams (of two names - also known as Martin) are about corrupt individuals who have found that they can manipulate government to provide them with overriding power in their own backyards. That's worth paying for.

The wider consequences of this lower down the tree, though, how this affects the little guy, are not yet being thought of or focused on. Maybe the story below gives some idea of what many people are now going through - people who imagined Britain to be a fair-minded, law-abiding country, where hard work amd playing by the rules will bring you success. Think on.

(It was a crap post not worthy a link, you're right Tim - but the idea is right)

Chad Noble, I believe there are many individuals who would make excellent MPs yet because of the existing political cartels they haven't a hope of winning anything more than a council seat. I wouldn't mind seeing a chamber for independent MPs, people representing a constituency rather than a party, to supplement the house of commons. I suppose the big danger is that independents could inevitably form themselves into blocks and before long they would become political.

I would not like to see power become a preserve of three main parties. Our democracy would be enhanced if we had two or three more large parties. The SDP was a failure because it, in effect, merged with the Liberals and, in effect, became the Liberals. The original idea of the gang of four melted into political expediency. It would certainly be interesting to see what would happen if we had a party to the right of the Conservatives, to the left of Labour and so on. More people would vote, that's a certainty. What turns many people of politics is predictability. I'm not calling for an Israeli or Scandinavian style of electoral horse-trading, but more parties and more choice would be better.

I agree Tony, and you are right, people with similar beliefs are likely to come together, but as long as their state funding belongs to the *individual*, then keeping it all themselves, or passing an agreed percentage onto a party etc would be their choice.

Cameron et al clearly know the damage that giving this state funding on an equal basis would have on the current political parties whilst improving democratic option, and thus are shunning a simple 'all votes equal' approach to protect and promote no-one but themselves.

Add a cap, take state funding if they must, but all votes should attract the same reward.

Think how an individual might spend the same amount so much better and this income would encourage more independent MP's and strengthen democracy imho.

No wonder the big parties do not want this.

I am greatly disappointed that David Cameron has reiterated his support for the public funding of political parties. During such a scandal it seems that all the political parties can come up with is a smokescreen for self-interested opportunism.

For the major political parties to suggest that because the goverment (in this case) have failed to abide by the rules there is a justification to put a surcharge on the taxpayer for their basic democratic rights is both ridiculous and offensive.

The resolution of this scandal should not be about penalising any group such as the Trade Unions or the Taxpayer (other than those who actually caused it). It should be about cleaning up politics and removing the perceived taint of self-interest from our political parties. Unfortunately, it seems David Cameron is not prepared (for whatever reason) to go down this path.

He, like the other party leaders seems to be using this scandal to fill the coffers of his party with a cheaper, more consistent and stable income. At no time are any of our political leaders considering how offensive this will look to the electorate.

Nothing being proposed in the Phillips report is going to clean up the reputation of political parties or prevent further misdeeds in the future. All it will do is ensure that more ingenious ways are adopted to get round the rules.

The fact is whilst politicians are still in charge of their own rules and act as judge, jury and executioner when things go wrong, we will still have the scandals, the investigations, the reviews, the cover-ups and the whitewashes and the resultant wastage of public funds.

What's more, should public funding be imposed on the taxpayer, the parties will come under greater scrutiny by the media and the electorate because they will be spending public money. The situation will likely worsen further rather than improve.

What is even worse with the Philips report, is that you can drive a bus through the holes in the public funding proposals:

- They are highly selective increasing the improbability that independents and non qualifying parties will ever progress, stunting the development of our democratic political system.

- They are discriminatory being biased against nationalist parties (particularly English parties) due to the elections included within the scope of the proposals.

- They demand that taxpayers who do not support any of the qualifying parties effectively subsidise them anyway.

- There is even the possibility that the electorate could end up subsidising parties such as the BNP if they ever qualify for the subsidy.

- It could be argued that taxpayers are subsidising political parties who they cannot vote for. The inequalites that are known as the West Lothian Question apply.

- They propose a 1000% increase approximately (based on current turnout) in the level of public funding to political parties.

This is a prime example of the transparent incompetence at the heart of our Government.

From the anecdotal comments I've heard, all polls on this issue show that people are strongly oppose them. From this, I can conclude is that the imposition (and that's what it will be) of what is effectively a poll tax will further damage our democracy and destroy the last remnants of trust that the electorate have for the major political parties.

Of course the greatest irony of these proposals is that they allow a very simple method of striking back at the major political parties and undermining the proposals. DON'T VOTE and DON'T DONATE.

I for one will seriously consider voting tactically against these measures at the 2009 Euro Elections by either withholding my vote or voting for a non qualifying party.

As I am Euroscpetic I can justify this because I am not going to pay for the right to vote for an organisation I do not believe in. UKIP are a qualifying party so they wouldn't get my vote either.

I would not be surprised if a significant proportion of the electorate do something similar. The shame being that in striking back at the major political parties for this cynical act of self-interest, the electorate will be further damaging our democracy.

The Phillips report proposals on public funding MUST be stopped. I for one, will have no choice but to consider my allegiance to the Conservative party if they persist in supporting public funding of political parties.

I believe in democracy and the Hayden Phillip report proposals are anti-democratic.I will not support an anti-democratic party.

This is grammargate times ten over just waiting to happen. The good news is that it applies to all major political parties. The bad news is that Conservative supporters seem to be far less submissive to their masters than their counterparts in opposing parties.

Yes the Prague speech was interesting. Pity the speech wasnt actually released in full so the rest of us can have a look at what his thinking is regarding conservative politics. Three paragraphs is not a speech.

CCHQ has yet to respond to my request for a copy of the full text...

Regarding this, I support the small governmenters who do not agree with more public funding for public funding. The problem with the recent Labour donation scandal is that they didnt disclose properly, clearly in breach of the law. I have no problems with large sums of momey being given to political parties as long as it is disclosed, with appropriate punishments if disclosure doesnt occur.

I'm with those who advocate no extra state funding of political parties at all. I'm frankly amazed that Mr Cameron still considers it a viable option. As the Editor rightly says the political landscape has changed since Cameron first proposed it. To advocate taxpayers money being used to stop the political class being corrupt is political suicide and will turn even more people away the British political process.
Political parties have no divine right to exist, if they cannot be financed by their members they deserve to die.

Well said, Editor:

"We'll put people who've actually run things in charge of government's responsibilities...".

That is precisely why I champion the return of grant maintained schools; let the government fund but the schools manage. The same could happen with hospitals and other similar institutions; break down huge, monolithic organisations into much smaller cells.

The problem is that after so many years of Blair and Brown - neither of whom have shown any inkling as to how to manage large operations - I supsect the corporate infrastructure has long since disappeared and there will be few chains of command, lax systems (as at HMRC, Home Office, Leeds Magistrates' Court etc) and little or no accountability.

Frighteningly, for once, I find myself in agreement with Malcolm Dunn.

Where I struggle is the vicious circle of public indifference to politics and politicians. People no longer feel inclined to vote, participate or donate to political parties in anything like the numbers that they once did. Parties are now dependent upon the limited apparatus at their disposal: business, unions, private individuals. I can only see the number of people engaged in politics diminishing further and I witnessed a safe seat Conservative association (for a variety of reasons) lose over 1,000 members between 2000 and 2007.

This said, how can parties function if they lack the funds to participate? Or is it their own fault if they fail to attract people to their cause? I really struggle with this conundrum, as I said, but something about more state funding just really rankles.

MH (and Michael Dunn) I think you are right with 'its the parties own fault if they fail to attract people to their cause.'

Just like selling any other product.

I dont know anyone who isn't interestd in political issues - but many friends find no political party today represents their their views.

MH, it might help restore faith in the political system if the parties themselves were to weed out the modern breed of career-politician who uses all parties as a vehicle to promote him/herself. This type is easy to spot and very different in character from a genuine person interested in public service.

These people have poisoned politics over the last few years. They appear in the media and have well rehearsed lines and a collection of facts and buzz words that they have learnt by rote from a party handout. These people sicken me let alone a person not interested in politics.

The great stength that characters like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Benn had was that they were respected by the public for being genuine in their beliefs. Political parties must do more to eradicate the sickly career-mongers who are using our political system.

I heartily agree with everyone so far who has been against more state funding of political parties. The more politicians are revealed as incompetent, venal and wasteful the less likely the electorate will feel disposed to give them public funds.

The key point, as Cameron mentioned, was that we have a tight regime at the moment but that Labour failed to abide by the rules. Perhaps it is because most of them have never worked in the private sector or run anything, that they just think it is necessary to pass a law and everything will be all right, forgetting about procedures, controls, compliance-monitoring and auditing

If there are caps on spending by political parties surely we will see a big rise in expenditure on non-party issues. For instance the government advertises for teachers on TV, the message being not just to attract people to teaching but also to show the electorate that they care about education. Similarly, if an A&E department in a local hospital were in danger of being closed and the Conservative candidate is in to the fore in opposing the move, what is to stop a well-funded local campaign being established to publicise the issue, the main beneficiary of which would be the candidate leading the opposition.

So, no to state funding. Don’t bother with caps on spending and individual donations. If Lords Sainbury and Ashcroft want to give money to political parties fine. Ditto the TUs. Just enforce the existing rules on transparency and openness. Oh and take politicians out of the honours system and give it back where is belongs – The Queen.

Editor, for once I agree with you …

NO MORE STATE FUNDING FOR POLITICAL PARTIES – their funding should depend entirely on the voluntary contributions individuals choose to make, they should not receive anymore funding coerced from taxpayers.

but also …

NO CAPPING ON INDIVIDUAL DONATIONS … it is an infringement on personal liberty and it won’t work.

But we must have complete transparency on who is giving what to whom.

State funding would be a disaster.

It will cause enormous resentment towards politicians on all sides, especially from those who would vote 'none of the above' who we ought to be attempting to get back into the habit of voting.

It will make politicians lazy: they would no longer have to pay much attention to the grassroots members of their party, since they would no longer be dependent upon them in any way financially.

Such a disconnect will make the former ever more arrogant and the latter ever more contemptuous and cynical and will have them abandoning their party memberships in droves.

The best thing that could happen is for a system to be devised which would force the parties to be MORE reliant on the ordinary membership thus re-establishing a healthy closeness of relationship to the ordinary members and voters.

State funding would guarantee existing parties an almost monopolistic right to survive come what may. If a party cannot raise money from its own membership, then it should have no divine right to survive.

Forcing them to rely on us more might also make them listen to us more, something which they would doubtless hate to have to do, but might make them rather more responsive to those outside the Westminster Bubble.

As the Germans have discovered, state funding is no bar to funding scandals: parties will always find ways to supplement their allowances, so state funding is a short term panacea of no obvious merit at all.

In addition there is every sign that the vast majority of voters are dead set against it. Defying such a large majority is hardly calculated to win friends and influence people.

Previously he has spoken about a reduction in the number of MPs

I've only just spotted this. Unfortunately, it is another of my hobby horses. Apologies, for yet another long post.

Over the past 70 years we have seen a consistent general decline in the ratio of elected representatives to population in this country. In effect the voter is getting less democracy for its money.

Furthermore, it seems to me that over the past 30 years we have seen a distinct downturn in the quality of service and behaviour from our elected representatives.

It is projected that our population growth is likely to proceed at a faster rate over the next 75 years than previously, potentially doubling.

I suspect some of the loss of perceived quality of service is due to the simple increase in demand on our representatives. More people will mean more issues to address. I suspect that our elected representatives are increasingly overworked (or theoretically should be). If that is the case they will be even more overloaded in the future. Reducing their number will only exacerbate this situation. Making elected representatives jobs harder through increased workload and by reducing their numbers and as a result making their roles (through the inevitable increased criticism for lack of performance) less satisfying is hardly the way to maintain and improve our democratic process.

If we wish to maintain or improve our democracy we need MORE representation not less. The idea that we give up democratic representation so that political parties can secure their futures better through public funding is cynical and self serving.

Furthermore, has everything possible been done by the parties to secure the maximum funding independently?

I rejoined the party, three years ago having finally become so angered by the Blair-Brown axis that I no longer was concerned about the Conservative Party own failings in the previous decade. I want Labour gone and the Conservative Party seemed to have improved its credibility and propriety.

I live in a very safe Conservative seat. My MP is a member of the front bench. I have no influence in the local party and have no ambitions to have any. However, I do wish to help get rid of this Labour Government and help advance the Conservative cause in some small way.

Since rejoining, I have received several stock letters inviting me to donate to the party centrally. All of it sent on what seemed to be rather expensive stationery and none of which I have responded to. As a rule, I do not respond to unsolicited begging letters of any sort.

At the same time, I have made it clear on my membership form that I am available to give some limited time to the party.

Yet, I have not been invited to be involved or attend a single locally arranged fund-raising event by my local association. I have not even received a single e-mail (the local association don't seem to use it as a communication medium) or letter regarding local activities, other than those for local party appointments and administrative purposes.

So is it any surprise that membership remains at low levels and subscriptions/ donations do not meet the needs of the party, nationally?

You would expect in such a circumstance that there would be some sort of drive within the party, through the local associations, to raise additional funding?

Where better to do so than in safe seats where the proportion of people who are likely to view such activities benignly are at their greatest?

But no, other than the previously mentioned wasteful speculative central mail drops, I have seen nothing. I even looked on the local association's nice shiny brand new branded (and probably very expensive) web-site at the events page and it was empty (and has been for months). There is no members section, no blog (alas) and the two articles of local news (one from another currently Labour marginal parliamentary constituency) are two months old. It is not the only association site like this. How on earth can local members communicate and become active in a small local way when there is no desire in the association?

Ironically, that same nearby marginal hasn't even got a local association web-site. I would have thought it was better for them to have one rather than have this unused and fairly pointless web-site in the safe seat I live in?

Instead of addressing the real issues, the associations are taking on the image of centralist big business at its worst, instead of being seen as a part of the local community.

It is time some of the local officials within the party were shaken out of their complacency. My own local association seems comatose.

At the same time the party leadership expects the taxpayer to allow its democratic representation to be whittled away, the service provided by them to likely fall and to top it all they expect the electorate to pay for the privilege having these conditions imposed on them.

The fact is that the more you look into the proposals of all the parties in this area the more Parliamentarian they seem rather than democratic. Will this be one of the new themes of 21st Century politics – Parliamentarians vs. Democrats?

The more you look at the approach to party funding adopted it appears statist and centralist rather than localist.

The Conservative Party claims to be the party of aspiration. Yet in this, the party support proposals that restrict the development of democracy and the aspirations of politically non-aligned individuals.

Last week, David Cameron painted the Labour Party as an 'Enemy of Freedom'. He must ensure that he is not painted with them as an 'Enemy of Democracy' and as an outright hypocrite in these matters.

After all the Conservatives are supposed to be the party of enterprise; perhaps it's time they showed some.

You may think this is just the witterings of a politically naive individual but just wait until the parties are subsidised through public funding and come under a greater level of scrutiny by both the national and local media and the public.

Furthermore, just think of the opportunities for other parties to highlight any waste of such public funding! This will be a gift to opposing parties if there is a Conservative Government (as I soon hope will be the case) in power.

Absolutely right, Editor.

My own view is that state funding of political parties through the tax system is a complete abuse of the taxpayer. Political parties should only be funded by voluntary donations from individuals who wish to give -nobody should be coerced into giving money, which is what state funding entails.

The present situation could perhaps be compared with British Leyland in the 1970s bringing their begging bowl to the taxpayers.

The present party funding scandal may be precisely that, but it is no worse than several others in the recent past. The Tories and the Lib Dems are making such a song and dance, and Labour is letting them, because at last they all have the serious chance of getting their bills paid by the taxpayer for ever hereafter, and thus of being saved from the oblivion on the brink of which they all otherwise find themselves and each other.

The attitude of such figures as Harriet Harman and Wendy Alexander is wholly understandable, and that of Tories or Lib Dems in the same position would be, and has been, exactly the same: the laws in question were never designed for them, and they consequently do not feel subject to those laws.

So the Electoral Commission (for ours is now the sort of country that requires political parties’ names, constitutions, aims and objectives, Leaders, and sources of funding to be State-approved) will undoubtedly do what it was set up to do and find that nothing wrong was done (though not until State funding is already in place). It will then go back to persecuting UKIP out of existence, just as George Galloway has been subjected to parliamentary strictures such as would never be employed against any other MP.

Meanwhile, in by far the most important political development of the last week, the BBC has swapped sides completely, running and running with this story after simply killing off so many previous ones, and lavishing attention on David Cameron’s mediocre parliamentary performances after simply ignoring the much better efforts of his predecessors.

This has nothing to do with thinking that he is going to win: that sort of thing has never bothered the Beeb in the past. Rather, as Peter Hitchens writes this morning, it can see very clearly who is the Blair-like (except, I have to say, real rather than wishfully affected) candidate of sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll. And it isn’t Gordon Brown.

Just to clarify, political parties do receive state funding already in the form of 'free' advertising through PPBs. Are we all advocating the abandonment of all public funding?

The discussion is about the extension to state funding as a means to replace current voluntary donations for political parties.

What is clear is that the vast majority of tory activists oppose this extension because it is an obvious anti-democracy, pro-big state policy, but that the party leadership whole-heartedly supports it (see official proposal from March 2006 which has *not* been abandoned in any form).

Just saying Chad, because the majority of opinion was in effect saying they opposed all state funding. I commented yesterday supporting the majority opinion of this thread against the extension.

er David Lindsay, which 'several others in the recent past' has been as bad as this?

Thanks to Cameron, Brown will be able to force through state funding by claiming that, although the parties disagree on specific details, all three agree 'in principle' that additional state funding is the solution to cleaning up politics.

Cameron is giving a debt-riddle Labour Party its get-out-of-jail card.

Malcolm Dunn, nobody has been knighted or ennobled in this case. Nobody has been naturalised. No Government policy has been changed. No Bill, amendment, question, or even EDM has been tabled. Unless anything to do with David Abrahams's business can be proved, then he has gained nothing. This is very small beer indeed. But the BBC has switched sides to Cameron because he's like Blair and Brown isn't, so this is a big story. Are you glad?

No David, Cameron is not like Blair.

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