Monday, 26 March 2012

Party Donations and Expenditure.

The argument over the news that Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas has resigned after secretly filmed footage showed him apparently offering access to the prime minister for a donation of £250,000 a year continues.

Peter Black , once again typically self rightous in pointing out that Labour also had problems of a similar Nature.

Not so long ago he was of on the same subject . However when I commented on his blog.

Great Timing Peter on the day that.
Multi-millionaire fraudster and Liberal Democrat donor Michael Brown has been arrested in the Dominican RHe donated about £2.4 million to the Lib Dems ahead of the 2005 general election - its largest donation to date.
Which your Party have refused to pay back.

Would.t that be the right action considering what you've just commented on.
# posted by glynbeddau : 3:03 PM
Peters answer was 
Yes, because successive investigations by the Electoral Commission and the Police have found that the party acted properly at all times and did no wrong. Furthermore, nothing was ever offered to Michael Brown in return for his money. The standards commissioner's remarks therefore do not apply either. The link made by yourself and the Telegraph is totally superfluous and irrelevant.

And before any other LibDem starts on the Peter Cruddas. I think they should make absolutely sure that they haven't been compromised in a similar situation sonce joining the coalition and getting some access to power.

The argument has led to the call to drastically reduce the ammount that Individuals or organisation can can donations to Political and/or State funding of Political Parties.

The problem with State funding is that if it is based on the number votes cast (and I can't see any other system) It will favour the bigger Parties and be self perpetuating. Which will make it even harder for samller Parties to break through.

The solution should start by making Parties cut expenditure on elections and particually look how parties shift resources to Individual consituancies by concentrating monies on them.

In the Last General Election in Wales there were some amazing disparities.

Spent over £24,0000 for a 4th place in Aberconwy
Were the Highest spender in Cardiff West £9,204,47 and received 7% of the vote whilst the Liberal Democrats spent £636.93 and received 17.5% of the vote.
Liberal Democrats
Spent over £20,000 than the winning Labour Candidate in Merthyr Tydfil and Newport East.
Spent 1,520.93 (18.3% of Vote) in Swansea East and 22,701.65 in Swansea West (33.2%)and £30.617.11 Newport East (37%) and £1,349.35(16.6) in Newport West .
Spent £190.00 (13.8)% n the Cynon Valley
Spent £585.69 (585.69(7.5% of the vote) in Merthyr Tydfil

When you look at the figures it is hard to see to what extent expenditure makes a difference but it is clear in marginal constituencies you have to spend big.

Perhaps oddly the interesting result may have been Torfaen

Green 438 Votes £37. Spent.
Labour 16847 Votes £2,96255.Spent.
Con 7541 Votes £148.20 Spent.
Independent 607 Votes £1.756.00 Spent.
BNP 1657 Votes £400.00 Spent.
Lib-Dem 6264 Votes £589.00 Spent .
Independent 1419 Votes £600.00 Spent.
UKIP 862 Votes £1100.00 Spent.
Plaid 2005 votes £1,497.00 Spent.

As I argued at the Time the turnout in Torfaen was 61.5% where it was 67.2 Where Plaid spent £24,386,Libdems £6,991, Labour £7689 and the Tories (who won $23,022
Where the people of Torfaen any more remote from the Election than those in Aberconwy?

And yet expenditure must have some influence on the result in Marginal Constituancies. or the parties would't do it.

With the propose equalisation of the number of constituents and Constituencies (about 70,000). Would it not be a good idea to restrict Parties to paying no more than an average of £5000 per constituency and a similar cap on expenditure based on the rest of the campaign based on seats fought?

We are heading for a similar situation as the USA where Big donations from Lobby Interest means only those backed by the two main Parties can afford to be elected and enormous amounts of Cash at all levels of elections are spent just to be nominated by your Party, and only in the state of Vermont where the Vermont Progressive Party have some local success back Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (the only socialist in Congress ) to the Democrats and Republicans is there an alternative.

We must not continue on a similar road here. Having raised money from Lobby Interest the amount a Party has to spend on elections should not influence the outcome.

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