current affairs

Party Funding

In a sense, as Rita Donaghy of the Committee for Standards in Public Life argues, the current series of revelations regarding donations to the Labour Party is a sign of the improving levels openness in British politics.

Yet these stories are hugely corrosive to public perception of politics and so politicians and the political parties. People end up wondering how they can trust any politician leaving them to disengage altogether. Which is just tragic because not showing up is what lets people in who may not have survived more thorough selection processes, election campaigns and so on.

The Tories are certainly not above criticism themselves, Lord Ashcroft's funds which they are depending upon mightily come from off-shore tax havens – famously Belize. Yet Labour have been astonishingly self-destructive with Ecclestone, two Blunkett and two Mandleson fiascos, cash for honours… the list goes on. Didn't they see what John Major's government went through? How hard is it to say no?

Pretty hard it would seem. Labour's Chief Fundraiser Jon Mendelsohn whose protestations of innocence ring increasingly hollow, was at the centre of a Labour lobbying scandal uncovered by Greg Palast for Newsnight and The Observer with Mendelsohn the lobbyist promising unprecedented access to the Government. There's an excerpt from Palast's book chapter on this story online.

It's disappointing when any party brings itself into disrepute. But Labour have seemed to have worked themselves to a state of dangerous arrogance whilst retaining an inappropriate sense of 'ownership' over progressive votes.

Votes are nobody's but voters. All politicians and parties have to work hard to earn trust. It's sadly much easier to lose than gain.