Thursday, 4 July 2013

A great day for the vested interests.

There has to be some dark irony in the fact that on the day that Americans celebrate their independence, news was released that cross-party talks to reform our system of party funding had broken down. When I call it a system, I use the term carefully, and in the same way you'd use it to describe the relationship between drug barons and drug dealers or prostitutes and pimps. I flinch after writing that, but in all reality, the cattle market of party funding is little different. 

Conservative ministers agreed to meet the nice people from Wonga, for a £1250 fee, and strangely, the government seems to be doing precious little about pay-day loan sharks. 

Members of the Labour Party voted for David Miliband to be their next leader, but, concerned about his feelings toward them, the unions backed Ed Miliband instead. With Ed happily instated as leader, the money tree went into bloom once again.

Before the 2010 General Election, my MP, David Heath, made a very passionate speech about our Conservative candidate, her campaign and donations received from Lord Ashcroft. He said, absolutely correctly, that we as Liberal Democrats had to decide whether we were happy for Lord Ashcroft to buy the votes needed for a Conservative victory. I hoped that by the time the next General Election rolled around, we might be in a position to spare ourselves the same question again. 

Today's news says that we won't. We won't start from an even footing, because the Conservatives will, quite literally be bank-rolled, Labour will be running on union cash and we will more than likely be running on whatever money we can fundraise through another LibDem raffle. 

It feels wrong - but I believe it's absolutely right. I'm proud to be a member of a party that doesn't have paymasters guiding it's hand. I'm proud to be a member of a party that won't sell it's soul to the highest bidder. I'm proud that we remain the only serious British political party to operate it's funding in a transparent and independent fashion, free from the craven fear that our wealthy backers might pull the plug if we don't stay on message. 

I'm sad that Nick's attempt to clear things up wasn't successful. However, it says more about the desperately sad, greedy nature of our politics than it does about the efforts of our leader. What today means, is that Wonga will keep on drip-feeding the Conservatives, Unite will keep (allegedly) manipulating Labour selections and the whole sorry parade will limp on. 

No comments:

Post a Comment