27 August, 2012

Party Funding: Cameron gets grubby

It's just a few rumours, a couple of well placed articles by friendly pundits, but it looks to me as if David Cameron, putting his ambition before his country, is about to let us down.

It concerns a boundary review. As a result of us all moving about, it now needs a lot fewer votes to elect a Labour MP (mainly in the towns) than a Conservative one (in the countryside). There has traditionally been a review of the constituencies every few years and it is quite legitimate, indeed in the country's interest, to try to get all the constituencies roughly the same size.

The trouble is that his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, reckon they will lose out and so will only agree if they get their way somewhere else.

Cameron's first act of grubbiness - no, it was an act of sabotage to the British Constitution - was to agree an insane system of electing the House of Lords. This was never going to fly; they proposed using the party list system, where the voters don't choose the candidate, they don't even know who it might be, but the party does. The election is detached from the electorate. Apart from that it would cause a democratic crisis: if the Lords (or Senate) disagreed with the Commons they could each say they had a democratic mandate. Incidentally the only way it would work would be to have adopted the system used in Germany, France, America and everywhere else, that the upper house are regional representatives and not elected on the same mandate as the lower house. For example, Wyoming, with just over half a million inhabitants gets the same number of senators (two) as California, with over 37 million. In Britain we could use the old county boundaries.

Anyway Cameron, who must have known he was promoting an antidemocratic nightmare, was thwarted by a mass rebellion of his own ranks (some politicians, at least, have a conscience).

Anyway, the rumour is that Cameron's next attempt to get his boundary review past his partners is to introduce state funding of parties. This would institutionalise the political parties: they would effectively cease to be arms of the people and become arms of the state. They would merge and demerge, not according to the beliefs of their supporters, but according to how much taxpayers' money they would attract. And it will be plenty: plenty of advisers, weasels, hangers-on and brown nosers, at least for the main parties. Jobs for the boys.

Let's consider here the position of the British National Party, a rather unpleasant group which not only wants to reduce immigration, but send some immigrants home. How would they fare?

The BNP have a fair bit of support round the country, in poor working areas. The first thing is that you wake up one morning to find you are funding these people: or at least the government has earmarked some of your taxes to give to them. A grinning subspecies on the television says that black people have different habits, and they're taking jobs and subsidised housing from white people. You can turn off the TV but you suddenly realise you are giving these offensive morons money to proselytise you with even more of this tosh.

And what can the Government do? Can they say that the funding will only go to nice people? That would mean the State was telling you how to think, telling you that you could only vote for people the State approved of: like the old East Germany. The BNP have a Euro MP and so will attract a fair bit of loot, and when the five or six other racist parties realise they can get some taxpayers' dosh by joining forces with the BNP, they will create a large, unpleasant, discriminatory bloc with more votes and more of your money.

All this Mr Cameron is prepared to sanction in order to achieve his ambition: a handful of grubby votes in return for letting his country go hang. In my opinion he doesn't have the moral character to hold high office.

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