Yesterday BBC Radio broke the news that Labour were the best funded Political Party in the UK during 2013. This lead over the Conservatives was almost entirely due to the donations that you and I made to the Party. As the official Opposition Party they receive the Short Money funding intended to allow the Opposition match the front bench in terms of jobs paid for by the State. This along with other public funds amounted to £6.9M, the Conservative Party received £659,000 from you and I, but the article reported here does not explain why Taxpayers are funding the major party of Government to the tune of £0.7M.
The BBC reported on 13 Political Parties whose income passed the £250,000 level during 2013. The total income that these 13 Parties received amounted to £76.2M which compares to the cost of the bonuses of a room full of bankers or a small town full of people on the living wage. In a world where the pareto principle applies to all sorts of issues, the 80:20 rule almost applies to Political Funding. If the Public Funding is stripped out of the accounts, the three Parties that are capable of forming a Government receive 85% of the money donated to Political Parties. In a society where Politics and Politicians are generally deemed to be exceedingly unpopular, it seems that there is a clear reason why the three major parties between them received £58M out of £68M total donations. This is not because the charisma or intellect of David Cameron exceeds Natalie Bennett or Nigel Farage. Nor is it because Ed Miliband is more clubbable than Alex Salmond. These three Parties are capable of forming the Government in a Parliament that gets to set rules on commerce, trade and employees rights. It is clearly impossible to separate out the money donated to the three Parties that is simply an indication of personal support, but if the Greens were capable of forming a Government in Westminster, they would suddenly find all sorts of people and businesses wanting to support their cause that today could not care less, one hopes that they would be more discriminating than our three main Parties.
As I write this, Philip Hammond is on the radio referring to the way in which President Putin is supported in power by a group of cronies. The fact that one of the men who used to be a crony of Putin is married to someone whose £160,000 will appear in next years accounts for the Conservative Party has not yet been discussed. However this donation and many more like it, are part of the problem that faces our democracy. It is clearly easier to spot a problem than to find a solution. However I think that these figures scream problem and sadly, for all sorts of good reasons few of us are listening, at the moment. Perhaps the opportunity will arise nearer the month of the Party Conferences in September/October.