All entries for Thursday 14 December 2006

December 14, 2006

NEWSFLASH: Tony Blair Questioned by Cash–For–Honours Police

He was not interviewed under caution, but as a witness. Just as I said all along. (Cough)

You have to assume it’s been timed to knock the Post Office closures story down the agenda. Which it has already.

Phillips Review spells new phase in British politics

Setting out his latest thinking, Sir Hayden Phillips, who is writing a review of political party funding, says donations from Trade Unions should be capped at £50,000 per year.

He says:

“I see no reason why donations from trade unions should be exempt from the cap.”

And I have to agree with him.

While left-wing Labour MPs complain about the “historic link” between the Unions and the Labour Party, history should not be allowed to get in the way of a transparent political process. These same MPs would almost certainly be against uncapped funding of parties by big business, although their justifications for doing so are practically identical to those of the Unions.

Put simply, Phillips’ proposals would bankrupt the Labour Party if not balanced by another method of party financing. Which leads me to believing state funding for political parties is inevitable.

The status quo is simply not suitable for modern, media-driven politics. It is too easy for a Berlusconi or a Lord Sainsbury to drive their agenda by reaching into their wallet. It happens in all major parties, but is a fundamental obstacle to democracy.

But what the unionist Labour MPs don’t seem to realise is that you can’t cap donations from business without capping the unions as well. At heart, there is no difference between the two groups, except for their constituents. They both want what is best for their members.

Tony Blair is rumoured to support Phillips’ comments. I rather suspect this is because he too has realised state funding is the only way forward.

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