Sunday, 22 February 2009

Electoral Commission To Investigate Ashcroft Donations

The BBC reports that the millions of pounds in donations by Belize-based tax-exile Michael Ashcroft to the Conservative party are to be investigated.

It's a start, but when oh when are we going to get a strict limit on the funding going into marginal seats, for the entire electoral cycle, not just at election time.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Parties and Elections Bill going nowhere!

News from Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, is not exactly encouraging.

It seems that the attempts by he and his colleagues to get more substantial reforms have been quashed by the Labour Government (not suprising given how much J.K. Rowling recently gave them) and the Conservatives who cannot resist maintaining the privileges of wealth:

When the Bill was discussed in Committee, over 200 amendments were tabled. Only nine of these related to reform of donations and spending limits, and they were all tabled by the Liberal Democrats. And it gets worse: the government's decision to push these nine amendments to the back of the agenda and the Conservatives' time-wasting over dozens of nitpicking alterations colluded to ensure that our amendments were not even reached.
It seems to me that if we want to see real progress on this issue, then we're going to have to get out on the streets and campaign about it.  In my view, the place to start is outside every Sainsbury's store.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Political Parties and Elections Bill - "tinkering"

For anyone watching this area, which unfortunately not many of the mainstream media are, there is a bill going through parliament.

I have to say that I support my local MP's stance on this, which is that the bill is tinkering, when full reform is needed.

What's the point of having had the Hayden Philips Review, to then go ahead and fail to reform funding.

As David Howarth rightly points out, there is a crisis of confidence, not just in financial markets, but also in our democracy.  The government should ask the people what to do on this one.

Perhaps this is a subject for a referendum!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

A Magic Million from Hogwarts!

The dodgy geezer who gave £2m to the LibDems and is now on trial for fraud must be wishing he had New Labour's luck.

Impressed by the good intentions of Labour on child poverty, which haven't yet seen anything other than a worsening child poverty rate, the billionaire author of Harry Potter has donated a couple of days of her income to the Labour party, in the form of a £1m donation.

For the Labour Party, it's a shame she's not matched David Sainsbury and given a more sizeable share of her annual income.  10% of her income would have more than paid off New Labour's £18m debt!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Dispatches on Channel4: Cameron's Money Men

This episode of Dispatches digs into how David Cameron has raised £50m in 2 and a half years from some very wealthy individuals.

If you have £50k a year to give, you can join the Leader's Group.  There's some pretty dodgy sounding individuals!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Unions and big donors continue to prop up political spending "arms race"

A BBC report, doing a little bit more than just updating their report from 3 months earlier, indicates that the big money continues to come in from a small number of big donors for the big parties.

They add that David Sainsbury has (apparently, I can't be bothered to check if they're accurate yet) converted a £2m loan to a donation (they needed it to pay their staff bills).

Were the BBC actually doing a job as journalists, perhaps they would at least try to answer a simple question: "Why?"

Why is David Sainsbury continuing to prop them up? What's in it for him? Perhaps they threatened to give the Competition Commissions some teeth against the supermarkets monopoly.

They might even, just possibly ask another question: "Why has the government not acted on the (Sir Hayden) Philips Review?"

It's no wonder the government is so quiet on reform when the BBC doesn't actually bother to ask a single serious question, or even link to the Philips Review.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Govt to put a lid on Ashcroft's millions of target seat spending

BBC NEWS | Politics | Cash curbs 'to be pushed through'

The BBC report that the the government has announced that it will push through the Party Funding Bill, despite concerns from the Electoral Commission.

In the debate on the 10th June 2008, Jack Straw announced that he will "aim to introduce legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows".

The further comments by Jack Straw repeatedly refer to the Liberal Democrat and Labour support for the recommendations of the Hayden Phillips proposals, and that the loophole exploited by Mr (sometimes called Lord) Ashworth, was that the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, accidentally got rid of the "1983 trigger" which all wanted kept (and presumably affects this issue).

Danny Alexander points asks "only by imposing stringent caps on donations and expenditure during and
between elections can we achieve the fair, transparent and sustainable
outcome that is needed to rebuild public trust in the political process?"

Perhaps, just perhaps, there is hope that by the next general election, we may have some sense in how political parties are funded!


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