Thursday, November 16, 2006

Party Funding

I am in favour of limited regulation, more transparency but a cap on election spending.

Elections should be about ensuring the electorate makes an informed decision. There is a danger that unless spending is capped, the electorate are “sold” a party instead of being convinced by seeing all the arguments and viewpoints. Many inferior products do well with good marketing and presentation.

I am against any significant increase in the funding the parties get. It is bad enough as it is, as who decides who is eligible for funding? Surely that introduces a bias in favour of the incumbent parties and makes them complacent and stifles dynamism. If people are taxed to pay for party funding you are forcing people to pay for the promotion of views that they may disagree with. By definition it is safe to say that if all 3 main parties have funding EVERY taxpayer will be funding ideas they oppose. There is the argument that people may not know of alternative viewpoints, but if that is the case, then you should not limit the tax to just the mainstream. People should be free to fund parties of their choice via membership or donations. If each taxpayer is taxed, say, £1, to avoid the problem of enforced funding of ideas counter to your preference, the taxpayer would need the option of choosing the recipient or “none of the above”. The above opens a Pandora’s Box, as you can see that by logical extension taxpayers should then get choice over ALL budget items. By logical extension we need a “none of the above” option in General Elections. Best to keep the “enforced” funding to a low level.

Directors of Companies awarded State contracts should be prevented from funding political parties. If a company is awarded a state contract (or turns over a certain amount or a certain percentage that way) then they are, to an extent, a subcontracted employee of the State. To continue to allow directors to fund parties in this way (as opposed to being members of them using their time, which is their own resource) is to nurture an environment where corruption can breed.

As a related issue, I am of the belief that state employees and those dependent on the State should not get the vote. Why? They are paid by the State and as such are influenced in their voting preferences by policy in regard to the size of the State, decisions as to expansion or cuts in State services and departments. I am not condemning State employees per se, as it is a very natural feeling and totally understandable to subconsciously lean towards administrations that are less likely to cause the loss of ones living. This is why, historically, the UK has not allowed State employees to vote, but this was altered at the beginning of the last century. I think this should be reversed. (To compliment this, State employees should also be free from income tax, with their salaries adjusted accordingly).

The above is linked to party funding as it ties in with the Directors of companies that profit from State contracts. It is in a similar vein, i.e. It opens the door to corruption and distortion for direct personal gain.