Here is Charles Vicker's robust response to the latest Lib Dem supporters efforts to advantage their Party. See what you think?
On 12 Jun 2012, at 12:57, Peter Facey, Unlock Democracy wrote:
Over the weekend, it was reported that the Metropolitan Police have launched an inquiry into the Conservative Party “cash for access” affair which blew up a couple of months ago.
We welcome the police inquiry and called for one when the story first hit the headlines . But what is even more important is that we take the big money out of politics in the first place. With the three main party leaders currently in talks to clean up party funding, will you sign our letter to them to demand they agree to capping party donations?
Sign our letter to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg
The suggestion that big money donors can buy access to senior politicians - and even policy - has dogged UK parties for years. Last October, the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommended introducing an annual cap of £10,000 for each individual and organisation. All three parties signed up to the principle of a cap of some kind but moved swiftly to kick the CSPL report into the long grass.
They would almost certainly have got away with it if it wasn’t for the “cash for access” scandal a few months later. Former Conservative Party Treasurer Peter Cruddas was caught on tape recommending that a foreign company illegally donate at least £250,000 to the party with a view to joining a “Premier League” of donors and gaining special access to the Prime Minister.
As it stands, the three main parties agreed to set up cross-party talks to sort out party funding. But without public pressure, these talks are likely to fail - as so many have before.
So we need you to help put pressure on the party leaders and write to them today. Over 2,400 people have already done so: will you join them?
Add your name here.
As we’ve seen with our recent campaigns on electoral registration and lobbying transparency, public pressure can have a real impact. On party funding, the party leaders are particularly vulnerable. All the main parties have had party funding scandals in recent years; they know they need to clean their act up eventually. Your pressure today will ensure they do this sooner rather than later.
Director, Unlock Democracy
I'm afraid that this is not the answer.
All this measure will do is ensure that small political parties cannot get off the ground and will thus hand the political arena over to the major parties who can count on multiple donors and result in a great loss of democracy.
Small parties, particularly in their inception depend critically on a few large donors. Without them they will struggle and quite probably fail to get off the ground. £10,000 from three donors is not enough to run a parliamentary campaign and get a party political broadcast.
To have any chance of being fair and democratic a policy such as this will have to have a number of additions such as:
•Scrapping all election deposits for all candidates.
•Giving each candidate for all elections a free page in a 'candidate booklet' that is sent, without charge to the candidates, to all electors by the last day for registering as an absent voter.
•For parliamentary elections giving each candidate who is not resident within 30 miles of the constituency an overnight allowance of, say, £50.00 per night, to enable them to campaign and stay in the constituency.
•Reduce the requirements for getting party political broadcasts in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to the same level as the lowest level currently.
Insofar as measures such as these have little chance of being taken on your proposals are, in my view, more anti-democratic than the current system.
Chairman Eastern Counties Region
Chairman Policy Committee