Party-funding reform proposals for the real world
Why should the public purse fund a two-party political elite?
A new report that I've co-authored, on party funding, argues that the problems of a failing political system need urgent attention and that only then can the question of equitable party funding be resolved.
The report, published by the independent think tank Green House (that I chair), is being launched on 13th October, at a conference in
· We're at the point where twice as many people don't vote for the two main parties as do, despite the fact that only these two parties can lead a government.
· The 'marginal problem' is getting worse; the number of Labour-Conservative marginals has fallen from an average of 160 in the period 1955-66 to just 86 in 2010-16. As the number falls so fewer and fewer voters exert greater amounts of power and are courted more and more intensively by elite parties.
· This leaves our democracy unable to respond to rapid social, economic, demographic and environmental change, governed instead by two parties deeply rooted in the 18th and 19th centuries.
· Polling indicates that where ordinary people favour state funding they do so to the extent that it takes away the influence of the big funders and that clearly includes the Trades Unions.
· There is nothing contradictory about the public being opposed to both large donations and to increased state funding. Seeking to end the corrupt culture of the big donors and refusing to give further money to the governing parties that have ceased to represent anything more than a small minority of the population is a consistent position and one that dove tails with low electoral turnouts.
The Green House report recommends that:
1. any state funding for political parties must be based primarily on parties' membership levels and be paid to constituency parties, not central party offices
2. local government be afforded the level of autonomy that it enjoyed until the 1980s
3. the Milliband donation cap of £5,000 be adopted
4. theTrade Union levy be made an opt-in.
5. those parties in receipt of state funding offer a genuine participation in policy creation to members, including subsidized access to party conferences.
6. that voters, in the same way that Trades Union members can donate to a political levy to the party of their choice, should be able to donate a 'per-vote' contribution to the registered party or to no party at all if they do not wish.
It is our contention in this report that any reform of party funding that does not include these measures will be little more than window-dressing and as such a time-wasting precursor to the next funding scandal.
To read the full report visit:
This Report will be launched at the Green House conference, The future of green politics in the