The news today that one of our two largest Political Parties has a war chest of £78M for their General Election campaign in a time of the deepest austerity in almost a Century should make all of us stop what we are doing and consider how we got into this mess. Whilst those of us already opposed to the Party Political domination of civic and governmental power may not need much persuading, and others who are from different party backgrounds might see this a great bandwagon to follow, surely it must be something that the members of this Political Parties can see as being wrong and an obscenity that they wish to challenge.
I took part in an election in 2012 when my election spending amounted to £370 during the formal election period. If accounts were kept for the whole period before the election, this sum would have been closer to £1000. Four others fought in the same contest. Two spent about £1,500 during the formal period and one a massive £5,000. This left one person who went on to win the contest. This candidate spent a massive £37,000. On top of this expenditure and similar amounts spent in the other constituencies, the major parties spend significant sums in the national part of the campaigns. As an Independent I had no national campaign to benefit from.
If we take the £5,000 sum spent by my Labour opponent (he came 2nd but with only 1% more votes than I polled) as a guide, and multiply this by 650 for the number of Parliamentary constituencies we arrive at a total sum of £3.25 Millon. Assuming that some national funding is justified, why not set a national limit of say £5M per national party. Not every year, but during each election year. Outside of elections it is hard to understand why Political Parties would need any more than a few 100 thousand pounds at a national level.
My back of an envelope calculations of course are just that, but you and I give £7M to the major Political Parties each year, irrespective of how much corruption or poor use of our other resources they are responsible for. Yet the parties such as the Tories who are reputed to have a war chest of £78M this year see that as mere seedcorn funding, it barely keeps their lights on. I think we need to find a way of persuading them and the other parties to change their outlook, or else perhaps we need to show them that there is another way.