THE £15,000 QUESTION…
THE £15,000 QUESTION
Running political parties and election campaigns is an expensive business. We have no tax payer funding of these, so it is expected that political parties raise their own funds.
Membership of political parties isn't high (The RSPB has more members than all political parties put together), so the ability to raise money from membership fees and donations isn't great.
As a consequence, political parties have to raise funds from other sources. In practice, this means Labour getting funding from the Unions and the Conservatives (and to a lesser extent, the Liberal Democrats), getting funding from wealthy donors. The Green party struggles to get any funding.
Whether or not the above arrangement is satisfactory seems to be viewed in accordance with which party you support. Labour supporters think that it's okay to accept Union money because it is essentially a party for "working people" and that the reward for Union investment is that a Labour government will prioritise the needs of working people.
Conservative supporters are also happy with the arrangement because it is a long held tradition that wealthy people back them and of course the "pay back" is that the wealthy get taxed less and sometimes some nice fringe benefits such as less regulation and the easing of planning restrictions.
Liberal Democrats have also benefited from donations from wealthy backers, but nothing like the scale of the big two political parties. Sometimes, this has proved embarrassing when the source of the money has been questionable.
The big reality, that nobody seems interested in confronting is that money is being used in order to buy influence. This is particularly true of the party that is in power. We have now had a Conservative government for ten years and its likely that they will remain in power for at least another four years.
Business people hoping to make large profits from developments are only too keen to spend a small amount of money greasing the wheels. This is why they will stump up £15,000 for the dubious pleasure of eating dinner with a government minster at the table.
It's why landowners put Conservative MP's on the payroll under a pre-text of receiving "advice".
There are certain rules that mean interests have to be declared, but these do nothing to change the fact that big business or Unions have the decision makers in their pockets.
Even the press exposure of these goings on does not change the fact. It all appears and is very mucky and undermines our notion of fairness. If you have money, you can influence things in your own interests.
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