Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Party funding

A supporter wrote to me the other day to say he supposed the Garston and Halewood Lib Dems didn't have the same sort of financial resources as the other parties.

He's certainly right - although it isn't always the party with the most cash that wins.

That did get me thinking about party finance and donations though.

As parties feel the need to mount ever more expensive campaigns, the pressure to accept large donations gets greater and greater. And you can get a feeling that big donors are simply attempting to buy influence.

And even if large donors are not trying to buy anything, the mere fact of the donation can limit a politicians ability to properly do their job (which can't be a good thing).

The current rules on donations means that sums over a certain amount have to be declared and are published. You can look up details of party donations on the Electoral Commission website.

If you look up Liverpool Garston and Garston and Halewood (because the constituency has changed its name this time) you'll see a donation from me to the Lib Dems. You'll also see a range of donations to the Labour Party including South Liverpool Housing and Peel (the bit responsible for the airport).

Now both SLH and Liverpool airport are significant organisations in Garston and Halewood so you might argue that they should want to make donations. But doesn't the acceptance of these make it harder for Labour politicians to disagree with these organisations?

There may be times when the Labour MP or Councillors need to argue against something SLH wants to do. Or there may be times when the airport's expansion plans need voting on. Do these donations make it more difficult for the politicians to be seen to be making a fair decision?

Personally I would rather we were all able to raise the money we need for campaigning through small individual donations. But certainly party funding is something that needs looking at as part of a bigger reform of politics.

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