Public Funding of Political Parties

07:15 Tuesday 27th March 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Do you fancy paying towards the running of our political parties? Do you? Well the issue has been revived after the so-called “dinners for donors” scandal which is currently engulfing the Conservatives. Its chief fundraiser of course Peter Cruddas has been forced to quit, and David Cameron has had to unveil all the people he had lunch with and dinner with. And as a consequence, fresh talks are being held this week between Britain’s three main parties. Now the Tories are suggesting an annual cap on donations of fifty grand. Well Michael Fallon is the party’s Deputy Chairman. (TAPE)
MICHAEL FALLON: If you want your politics to be free of state funding, politics costs money. You need to fight elections. You need to raise money. You need to be free. We’ve made an offer to the Labour Party, who take £4 million from one union. We’ve made an offer to the Labour Party. Let’s cap this. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well Labour want a lower cap of £10,000, but believe the large union donations should continue, as they’re funded by millions of individual trade unionists. Tony Blair’s former chief fundraiser, Lord Levy, says now is the time to consider a system of state funding, paid for by, you’ve guessed it, me and you. (TAPE)
LORD LEVY: It’s an additional burden on the public purse, but for the amount it would take to fund political parties, and an election, one is talking about something like 50p per electoral member. I think in the Kelly Report they compared that to the cost of a postage stamp. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well the Liberal Democrats are the only party keen on state funding, but their critics say it’s because they can’t rely on cash support from big business or trade unions. Even their own MPs admit it’s going to be hard to ask voters during difficult economic times to increase public spending on politicians, when the same politicians are cutting public spending elsewhere. Do you fancy paying for political parties? Do you? Have you got a few quid spare?