Why the funding of political parties must be reformed

JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001
JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001

He who pays the piper plays the tune is an expression most of us old enough to remember bubble perms and white dog poo will be familiar with.

Like all popular adages and proverbs, it is often taken out of context, mainly by idiots in lounge bars, but in recent weeks it has carried much more meaning than usual.

The funding of political parties has long been a steaming King Edward, but now, little more than two months from the General Election it is positively nuclear.

Since the woefully under reported issue of the ‘secret’ bank accounts at HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary the issue of political funding has shot towards the top of the agenda as some of the names on the leaked list of the bank’s clients included political donors.

This led to bitter accusations between all the main political parties and David Cameron being branded a dodgy Prime Minister. Of course the question on the lips of many was ‘are we really surprised that those who bankroll our decision makers have their money in accounts the taxman can’t see’, or something along those lines.This was quickly followed by latest figures which show that in the last three months of 2014 a record amount of money - north of £20m - was donated to our major political parties.

My initial reaction is why? Don’t know about you but if I were a multi-millionaire I would be spending my hard earned on essential items such as Caribbean islands and football clubs and not on leaflets or posters for privately educated men who have never had an original thought in their lives.

Many will argue that donors are buying influence although politicians will deny that until they are red or blue in the face (depending on their allegiances) although I suppose those of us without money can never truly understand the minds of those who do.Even the poor old Liberal Democrats, who must be looking forward to May 7 as much as a rabid Pit Bull does a trip to the vets, have received more money than they ever have, which can only mean that there are businessmen, they usually are blokes, who have more money than sense and are willing to throw cash at lost causes. Despite the protestations that these donations are all above board and that they are an essential part of democracy - political parties don’t grow on trees - it just adds fuel to the general feeling that politics is a world far removed from ours, populated by self-serving careerists.

There is only one solution: political parties should be funded from the public purse although I cannot see it happening any time soon as the public reaction to such a move would be vitriolic.

But it is a way that we can guarantee that politics is clean and would remove any unwanted speculation as to where the money for campaigns has come from.

Unless changes are made the issue of party funding is an open sore which will only continue to get worse, leaving us wondering who has taken care of the piper.