'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Tuesday 25 October 2011

£10m. The Price of Democracy.

My latest missive from The New Statesman. If you'd prefer to read it in situ, do feel free....

Rather excitingly, I discovered the price of democracy this week. It was printed in the Financial Times. Apparently, it's £10m.

In the midst of allegations about mystery donations from shadowy figures funding almost-but-not-quite-official alternative foreign policies, it's quite surprising to find anyone willing to hang so precise a figure on the value of voting. And given the hundreds of millions of pounds the UK has just invested on the military campaign in Libya, I'm sure many will want to argue with the paucity of the amount suggested.
Why £10m? Well, that's the figure an unnamed, (and therefore unashamed), "senior Labour Party source" has suggested as a reasonable cap on individual party spending in a general election campaign.

So there you have it. If you'd like to buy a ticket to the General Election lottery, and want to have a fair chance of winning it, that's the suggested price of entry. And remember folks, you've got to be in it to win it.

That is the problem with just adding a spending cap to party funding and doing nothing else: you limit the field of horses likely to win by a clear length to -- well, most likely, two.

Jonathan Freedland has just drawn an excellent analogy between Premier League football and the inequality of wealth. In the Premier League the richest clubs keep buying the best players, drawing the biggest crowds, winning the most trophies and making the most money, with which they buy the best players and so it goes on. Or as Freedland puts it, it's "an unsustainable system where the rich win and the poor go to the wall."

The same is exactly true of party political funding. While the Lib Dems have attracted more donations from individual and corporate donors than Labour, come May 2015, does anyone expect the Lib Dems to have the same financial muscle as Labour? One thing the Fox affair has re-emphasised is that it looks unlikely the Tories will be strapped for cash. Hence, the hegemony of the best funded parties delivering the most votes goes on.

When the Kelly Report on party funding is published in a few weeks time, I'd like to think that Cameron and Miliband will agree that merely capping the millionaires' club is neither fair, nor healthy in a democracy where the ability of rich vested interests to fund campaigns can ensure that the winning team can only be wearing red or blue (and not yellow).

Although I'm not hopeful. After all, Messer's Fergusson or Mancini seem unlikely to do the decent thing and give Norwich a leg up, if they can help it.

Monday 24 October 2011

And We're Back...

Hello Everyone

As the astute/bored amongst you will have noticed, I've had a few weeks rest from the blog post conference. This was partly because I wanted to give myself a bit of a breather, partly because I had work to do (got to keep the wolf from the door) and especially because I wanted to step back and have a look at the whole thing again.

Now I'm back and while the click baitingly awful puns to drag you kicking and screaming to Ham Common will remain, I am going to try and post fewer but better researched, slightly more cogent and hopefully vaguely crafted blog posts. You however, will be the judge of whether I've succeeded.

In a slightly surprising turn of events, I have also been asked to submit stuff for consideration to The New Statesman on a vaguely regular basis. I'll keep you posted. See - the puns remain.

Anyway, it's nice to be back.