The nature of blogging on current affairs means that suddenly you can rant about a thing that annoys you in the name of contemporary comment.
Today, that thing is party funding… or more accurately, buying access to politicians.
I have a number of comments to make but would like to start with a wee message to David Cameron: To say the people who came to dinner at No.10 are more ‘friends than donors’ demonstrates just how much you fail to understand the issue. My friends don’t tend to be able to donate £2million to my work. Sometimes they donate £2, but £2million, not so much. Guess you’re lucky to have such rich friends Dave.
And since when did we decide that being rich was part of politics? (Actually that’s a rhetorical question). Clearly Dave will be totally on side with folk in the ‘squeezed middle’ cos his friends can give him £2million…
When I worked for a small charity we had to win audiences with politicians based on the power of our argument and our charm. We couldn’t afford to even invite them out for coffee, let alone a nice dinner with wine. And we hoped that our passion, commitment and well researched policy papers would persuade people, not our offers of food, drink or anything else…
But when there’s a wine and canapes reception in the room next door, sometimes its hard to draw people in with just passion, commitment and well researched policy.
But you know what, I can live with that. I can stretch my budgets for a wee boozy bribe now and then, but you’ll always know that I’ve offered such incentives, and I won’t expect anything except turnout in return for my offerings. What makes me angry is behind closed doors cosy dinners and chit chat with donations in exchange for access and listening and the possibility of policy influence. And I don’t really care if it’s a three course dinner or tea and a Tunnocks biscuit, just freakin tell me who you’re talking to and what you talked about. Because I can’t afford to pay you to listen to me, so I would very much like to know what other people are saying.
Oh and, alongside full transparency, yes, I think public funding of political parties is a good idea. If we want a decent, functioning democracy, then we should be prepared to pay for it.