Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Labour Party funding

There is no getting away from the facts that the last few days have been a challenge for the Labour Party and clearly the laws governing party funding had been breached. Our decision to return the donation to David Abrahams is of course quite correct given the circumstances surrounding his donation along with his use of aliases.

Peter Watt, the former Labour General Secretary was correct in his decision to resign over the matter and admit responsibility for not following the law. I do however feel desperately sorry for Peter as I've known him for a number of years and long before he became General Secretary of the Labour Party. I know what a dedicated servant of the party he's been and I can remember him helping me many years ago when I was an election agent in Lewisham, he is a great loss to the party.

In terms of funding, it's an issue that does to be dealt with and I believe that regretfully that a case may now exist for some kind of state funding of political parties. Given the level of scrutiny that exists, no-one would want to donate to a political party given that their background will be looked over for potential impropriety(especially labour donors). Indeed, I understand that a donation of the Leader of the Merton Labour Group Andrew Judge of £1,000 was thought to be newsworthy(Daily Mail), thankfully Andrew will not be unduly worried by this but a lot of other people would be put off by this level of scrutiny and an underlying suggestion of impropriety.

Funding reform is important given the cost of elections and the need to raise large sums of money. Increasingly parties will find it harder to attract donations to their party and if parties are to have the ability to compete at elections then funding reform is crucial. At this rate funding donations from private benefactors will dry up and evidence exists of this being the case.

Finally, it also has to be remembered that the Labour Government introduced the transparency laws in relation to donations. The Conservative party never revealed when in power who donated to their party and their benefactors. We were right to introduce these laws as transparency is important and the public has a right to know who funds political parties along with donations made above a certain amount.


Blogger Sit back and enjoy the ride. said...

Hi, I enjoyed reading your blog. I've been searching debates related to CILs in Merton as I have become more active locally recently. I would value a chat with you at some point. I had an interesting day yesterday relating to CIL's, Direct Payments and future social service reviews/transformations/cut backs. You can see my blog here. I look forward to reading/hearing from you in the future.



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