Wednesday, October 31, 2007

S/he who pays the piper?

I was glad to see that Nick Clegg was quick off the mark in condemning the breakdown of the all- party talks on funding. Nick is quoted as saying "Self-interest from Labour and the Tories has killed the possibility of getting proper limits on political funding. There should be strict limits on national and local spending year on year. A cap should apply to individuals, companies, lobby groups and unions. It is a disgrace that Brown and Cameron have put their party funding interests above ending the power of big money in our politics."

As someone who has been an active trade unionist, including representing my union at a national level, it was always a great source of irritation to me that the affiliated political fund was only for Labour. Something made even more annoying by the fact that Labour was presiding over the wholesale marketization of public service and embarking on its illegal and immoral war with Iraq at a time when unions such as mine had clear policy against both.
I am reminded of a time when, as Branch Secretary I was desperate to get hold of my regional head of local government, I left messages, tried and tried without success. Then I decided to try the number for the Affiliated political fund........he picked the phone up immediately! I told him I was interested in paying into the fund but wanted my contribution to go to the Lib can guess the response!

Regardless of party funding powerful lobbies will always exist to contribute to the skewing of public policy, however funding has to be one of the most powerful tools for any organisation or individual seeking to influence party policy.

It is a travesty that both Tories and Labour bang on about fairness and then, for reasons of their own self interest, bolster up an unfair and discredited system.

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