A problem with state funding of politics

Greek lawmakers voted late on Tuesday to suspend state funding for political parties accused of criminal activities, a measure targeting the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn group.

The proposal was backed by the conservative-led governing coalition, the main opposition and a small left wing party – and was voted 235-0 in the 300 seat assembly.

It allows an indefinite funding freeze for parties whose leadership is charged with involvement in a criminal group, or terrorism.

Not that
I particularly want to defend Golden Dawn who really are grotty little fascists. But note that they have only been accused, not tried and most certainly not convicted. Yet they can get their lifeblood of funds cut off just by a vote of their competitors in politics.

Which is the problem with the state funding of politics. It will be the state who decides who is worthy enough to be in politics.

12 thoughts on “A problem with state funding of politics”

  1. I’m trying to get a bet on that this will happen before the 2015 GE.

    It’s highly likely that the LibDems will lose a few more seats and become a political appendix. Useless, but you don’t want them to act up.

    In any event, they’ll be screaming for some State money and both Cameron and Miliband will be anxious to do a precautionary deal with them, in case we decide they’re all useless (some of us already have).

    And if they do it before the 2015 GE they will effectively kill off UKIP and pacify the Greens who will get the de minimis amount for being represented in Westminster.

  2. ” It will be the state who decides who is worthy enough to be in politics.”
    That’s a feature, not a bug.

  3. Cutting off funds for parties guilty of criminal activities is a great idea. Let’s cut off funds to the two parties which went off to Iraq and took part in the slaughter of a million Muslims all on the basis of fictitious nonsense about “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. I.e. no more funds for the Tories from bankster / criminals. And no more funds for either party from that other criminal activity they both engage in: flogging peerages for £1m a go and pocketing the proceeds.

  4. Doesn’t this already work for all sorts of ostensibly non-political organisations? If your local petanque club offends the local political sensibilities it gets its funding cut. Your gast would be well and truly flabbered to realise what sorts of little organisations get money off (mostly local levels of) government, and how far the pernicious tendrils of their influence thus reaches.

  5. Tim, I know you hate public funding of political parties. It has been in place in Australia since 1984 and still seems to be a functioning liberal democracy. Of course it is administered by an independent electoral commission which allocates funding on the basis of votes cast at an election so less chance of political interference.

    ultimately though it hasn’t made much difference with the major parties still having a stranglehold on parliament and getting pretty much the same level of funding they used to get through donation.

    I don’t reckon it is worth bothering with frankly

  6. Fortunately we are British and such things could never happen here.

    Except that where our Electoral Commission was perfectly happy for an approved party, the LibDems to get £3.5 million of stolen money from an overseas thief when UKIP got a donation of 1/10th that from somebody who had made a minor technical mistake in filling out the form the Commission nabbed the money.

    Also I know from personal experience that the Electoral Commission given unambiguous proof of fraud by the approved SNP, have declined to investigate it.

    Also UKIP doesn’t get the “Short money” the government gives for research, the research money the government gives for research, or any of the money the EU gives parties.

    All in all Golden Dawn seem to be getting the better deal.

  7. UK liberty I agree. It hasn’t lead to the sea change in politics in Australia, the major parties are still largely in thrall to various interest groups and there has been no real change in policy as a result of “freeing” political parties from the apparent influence of major party donors.

  8. Neil Craig is right, it wouldn’t happen here. We administer these things with scrupulous fairness.

    “Short money” is a good example. It’s awarded per MP (so UKIP doesn’t qualify). Under the wording of the scheme, the money isn’t available for MPs who don’t take up their seats, so Sinn Fein isn’t entitled to it, but the Commons is so anxious to be fair that it passed a resolution a few years ago to pay them anyway.

    The proposal in the Kelly report is that parties with at least two MPs should receive money proportional to votes cast for them in the General Election, and in return be subject to a cap on donations. It would be entirely out of character for Parliament to block a payment under the scheme.

    The EU gives money to transnational parties represented in the European parliament, including the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy. UKIP is the largest member of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group which MELD is based on, but for some reason has declined to join MELD.

    In the Bown and Brown cases, the Electoral Commission attempted to follow the letter of the law, which states that a party receiving a donation from an individual must check that the donor is on the electoral register, something UKIP repeatedly failed to do with Alan Bown. The Brown donations on the other hand came from Brown’s UK company, which appears to have been a permissible donor under the rules. This blog insists that it’s the letter of the law which should be followed. Personally I think that’s nonsense in this case: I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to let UKIP off. But I don’t blame the Electoral Commission for following Worstall’s advice.

  9. What you mean is that the law is written (& sometimes rewritten) by those in charge and only coincidentally gives them money and should never be changed to reflect voters opinions – except when dealing with a party they fear might go back to terrorism.

    Any way you put it we already have substantial, little known, state funding of parties which, coincidentally or not, goes to the approved parties.

    Presumably you will be willing to tell us that the state broadcasting monopoly doesn’t censor and is “balanced” as a strict interpretation of the law requires too.

  10. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that MPs have voted to give money to parties with MPs. But Short Money goes to the opposition parties, not to those for the time being in charge. And the amount has two elements; one proportional to number of MPs, the other proportional to votes cast. How is that not a mechanism for reflecting voters’ opinions?

    I’d like to modify the Kelly proposal slightly, to allow parties without MPs to be paid the per vote amount, in exchange for accepting the donation cap. That would be a good deal for UKIP.

    I’m not aware of any state broadcasting monopoly in the UK, and nor are the channel listings on my TV. The BBC is required to be “accurate and impartial”. By the (low) standards of the media, it is quite accurate. It is careful to be impartial between the main parties. I suppose that many people, including me, think it gives less emphasis than they would like to minority views they agree with.

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