Just like that dodgy cockney geezer from the Fast Show, Blair and chums are now arguing that it's the law's fault for putting temptation in their way. Surely we must have known none of them could be trusted to raise funds honestly. As Matthew Parris puts it, "if a burglar, caught red-handed, should by effrontery and oratory make from the dock so stirring a call for the fundamental reform of the Theft Acts that the whole court were distracted from the charge and persuaded to “move on”. . . then the tour de force would hardly be more impressive".
So here we are back to the solution preferred by nine out of ten lying conniving rapscallion politicos throughout the ages - putting them all on the public payroll, even before they've gone through the tiresome business of actually getting elected.
Just how dumb do they think we are? In case they hadn't noticed, we taxpayers want fewer politicos, not to pay for even more.
Remember that the cost of our so-called democracy has already rocketed under the stewardship of these dirty rotten sleazebags. At the last count in 2004, costs had increased by 80 per cent since 1997, taking them to £1.3 billion a year:
"Just under half the extra outlay can be put down to the running costs of the elected institutions set up by Labour since 1997 — the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Greater London Authority and the London Mayor. Labour also created the Electoral Commission to oversee elections.
There has also been a 75 per cent rise in MPs’ salaries and allowances, a 40 per cent rise in the cost of House of Commons facilities and administration, and a 71 per cent rise in local government representation and management costs, with big increases in the allowances of councillors a key factor."
We could write a couple of thousand words on all this, but it might be mainly expletives (see previous blog). So instead, let's just go along with the Committee on Standards in Public Life. They looked at public funding for parties last time around and came down against. They said:
- Taxpayers should not be compelled to contribute to the support of political parties with whose outlook and policies they strongly disagree
- Public funding could cause an existing party system – any existing party system – to ossify, with the existing parties handsomely supported out of the public purse
- The parties might abandon efforts to raise money at the grassroots...the power of party headquarters vis-à-vis the grassroots might be considerably increased
- Instead of representing the citizens vis-à-vis the state, the parties would be tempted to represent the state vis-à-vis the citizens; they would, in effect, have been ‘captured’ by the state. On the continent, there is talk of ‘cartel parties’, which use state funding and the state apparatus increasingly to further their own ends rather than those of the citizens they claim to represent.
All very politely put.
So short of abolishing politicos, what should we do?
A cap on individual donations/"loans" (we might start with ConservativeHome's £100,000pa), a tax break for small donations up to say £500 pa (as recommended by the Committee), and an immediate move to a PR elected second chamber of no more than 100. And while we're at it, cut the number of Westminster MPs to 400.
Oh, and anyone taking the Michael to be locked up.