Saturday, 22 August 2009

Political funding

One of my main political concerns is about the funding of the parties. Everyone knows that big business funds the Conservative Party but why do they do it? The answer is that they want to get something in return for their financial support. Businesses who support the Conservatives will say that Conservative policies are more helpful than those of other parties, but even if you don't think there is a direct link between funding and political support (and there often is) it just doesn't look good. Even in the Labour Party you can buy influence in Westminster. If you don't remember just do a search on Lord Taylor of Blackburn. Earlier this year the communications union which donates one million pounds per year to Labour threatened to stop this funding if the government went ahead to partially privatise the Royal Mail. The link between funding and support may become blurred but if the link is not obvious then those who are doing the funding bring us back to earth and tell us exactly what they want for their money.

On Thursday the Conservatives managed to hold on to a council seat in Blackpool. The by-election was caused by the death of a Tory and a huge majority was reduced to 46. Our political system is far from perfect, but this election was particularly controversial because the Conservatives had accepted £10 000 from a building company who were applying to this unitary authority for planning permission to build houses. Who should be funding our political parties? Why are they doing it? Why should party politics bend in the wind of political funding? The only saving grace for Blackpool Conservatives is that we managed to hear about it. Unfortunately it didn't affect the result and the Conservatives have not been politically punished for decisions that could be seen as verging on corruption.

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