What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

A reasonably bad idea…

Ed Milibands proposals for the reform of party funding warrant careful consideration, and not just by Labour members…

Now as I understand them, Ed is proposing that ALL donations to ALL parties should be capped at, say £500 per individual and organisation, thus ending at a stroke the vast sums of money that the Tories get from companies, and the reliance on Trades union funds for Labour. There is also the suggestion of increased State funding for parties who reach a certain threshold of votes.

This seems reasonable, and will play well with Lib Dems, but is this really a good idea? I am not so sure.

Firstly, I am deeply suspicious of State funding – why should Lady P pay for my party, and me for hers? What if the BNP or Respect cross the threshold? How could Mebbyon Kernow ever hope to do so? Parties should never be too enmeshed with the State, and the status quo, to challenge it effectively.

As for the cap, well on the face of it, fair enough, although as with taxes, we know that the rich and big business will simply get round this – probably through U.S. style Political Action Committees (PACs), “in support” of their favourites. WiddecomePAC anyone?

Now as to Trades Union political funding, here I believe that Ed has got it utterly, balls-achingly wrong.

His proposals fundamentally misconstrue the history and roots of our Party, and its birth. we were born as the political expression of the Unions, as well as various Socialist and reform-minded groups, throughout our history, this link has been beneficial to both the Party and the country – after all, Ernie Bevin , Nye Bevan and many others rose to prominence firstly through their Trades Union work. Without Bevin, my hero Clement Richard Attlee could have been deposed by Mandelsons’ Grandad – and you think he is insufferable now! Truth to tell, big business and the rich have two parties to play with, so now more than ever, we must preserve our links to organised Labour.

There should always be a link to the Trades unions, full stop. That this link should be democratically accountable on an annual basis at Union Conferences, with a vote of all the membership who pay the political levy would be an admirable point to make.

A similar measure for big business would see them publish yearly accounts of all moneys paid to parties and lobbyists, which would then be in the public eye, and voted on at annual shareholders meetings.

The last measure Ed has suggested is a further dilution of  the already weak power that ordinary members have – namely giving a 25% share in Leadership elections, and possibly candidate selections to a nebulous group of “registered Labour supporters”. Now this is hugely open to abuse at both national and local levels, and would encourage yet further U.S. style caucus politics, where the central Leadership all too often control candidate selection. Be warned, this is what lead to the Tea party…

So Ed, please, think again.

I suggest that the rest of us inundate his email with our opposition to this…


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