8 July 2010
UK political parties should be funded by the state, the Green Party’s deputy leader Adrian Ramsay (1) will tell the Standards Committee at its hearing on Party Political Finance today. And providing a level playing field for party funding will be an important part of the clean-up of British politics, Mr Ramsay will say.
Adrian Ramsay said today:
“Fixing British democracy isn’t just about ending the abuse of expenses. It’s about facilitating choices for the voters, and restoring people's faith in politics.
“So it simply shouldn’t be the case that parties are so reliant on wealthy donors to fund their activities. That inevitably means that some parties can afford huge PR campaigns, while the voters don’t get to hear about alternative policies put forward by parties that are less well-heeled.
“Reliance on wealthy donors also inevitably leads voters to question whether the decisions the big parties make, whether over policy or appointments, are influenced by the wishes of donors. State funding will help refocus politics on principles rather than fundraising.”
The Greens believe that party funding should be calculated and administered on a regional basis, with funds allocated in proportion to the number of votes cast in the region in the last round of proportional representation elections held across the entire region. Parties would need to exceed a threshold of 3% of the vote to become eligible for this funding.
1. As well as being the party’s deputy leader, Adrian Ramsay is a city councillor in Norwich, where the Greens are joint first in councillor numbers and hope to become the first ever Green Party group to take control of a city council in the UK.
2. See below for further information on the questions to be addressed by the hearing, at the Church House Conference Centre, Dean's Yard, Westminster.
COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS OF PUBLIC LIFE
PARTY POLITICAL FINANCE
PUBLIC HEARING: 8 JULY 2010
PROPOSED THEMES TO BE ADDRESSED IN QUESTIONING
Party political finance in general
Transparency – has it worked?
Effectiveness of the regulatory framework
Public trust/confidence in how political parties are funded and spend their money
Is it a basis for a long-term settlement?
Why was agreement not reached?
What has changed since PPERA that there no appears to be a consensus among the parties about capping donations?
Why £50,000 as a limit?
How to deal with the trades union issue?
Is there an expenditure arms race?
Evidence that spending money wins elections
Should expenditure be controlled?
Should parties not be living within their means?
Why has there been a shift among the political parties towards the acceptance of state funding?
Positive/negative effects of state funding
Why are the political parties finding it difficult to secure funding from a wide base of support?
Alternatives to state funding
Current streams of state funding both direct and indirect
Where do the smaller parties fit into the funding and expenditure picture?
Are the current funding rules fair?