The news this morning that one of the two main groups wanting us to leave the EU is launching its campaign has been couched in terms of who funds it. Vote Leave is being presented as the coming together of the three most ‘generous’ donors to our political parties. They are not the only people in the group which includes people like Lord Lawson and David Trimble. However the news that three men who already have wielded so much political power, primarily because they have lots of money are to collaborate to persuade you and I to vote No appears to be very dangerous. If we had a political system that was fit for the 21st Century, few people would know Stuart, John and Peter for their political ‘contribution’ to our modern life, which would not allow them to buy influence as they clearly have.
John Mills is a major Labour donor and owns JML direct, a household goods business. In 2013 it was revealed he had given £1.65M of JML shares to the Labour Party.
Stuart Wheeler founded the spread betting IG index and has previously donated large sums to both Conservative Party and UKIP. In 2001 he donated £5M to the Tories.
Peter Cruddas is the founder of a business called CMC markets which allows people to make money out of currency exchanges. He is a small donor by comparison to the other two, his donations are believed to be no more than £350,000 to the Tories.
The big donor behind the other No Campaign, known as Leave.EU is Arron Banks who is working with Nigel Farage and other Politicians. He has made his money through insurance and was previously a donor to the Tory Party. A year ago gave £1M to UKIP.
Large donations to Political Parties are very damaging to our nation, allowing the donors to wield influence in policy setting that is far in excess of the way in which almost anyone else in the nation can do. It means that when we cast our vote, we are being persuaded through all sorts of marketing techniques that have been paid for by these men who behind the scenes appear to pull very powerful strings. According to Wikipedia “In 2011, Stuart Wheeler was appointed treasurer of UKIP to spearhead fundraising in advance of the 2014 European elections. His appointment was seen as a blow for the Conservatives because of his network of contacts. Party leader Nigel Farage said the move would enable the party to “raise serious money” as a lack of funds was “holding them back”.
We need to clean up Politics so that wealthy people are allowed to participate in decision making on the same basis as everyone else, no more and no less. The only way of achieving this is to place a very clear set of rules in place so that no one can buy disproportionate influence. If individual donations to political campaigns and parties are limited to say £5,000 per person per year, that would still allow wealthy individuals to make their contribution, but ensure that the parties do not see them as crucial to their success, in the way in which Nigel Farage did in 2011 and one can be sure all of the other Party leaders do. The reason why people like Stuart, Arron, John and Peter are so dangerous is that those people who run our political parties are happy to be bought out financially.