Quick Thoughts on Political Fundraising


by Shariq
22nd October, 2008 at 12:20 pm    

Given that the Obama campaign seems to have revolutionised political fundraising through his online, grassroots campaign, why do we have to continue to put up with stories about shady meetings? I know its tough because there is tri-partisan support for not doing anything, but why not do something along the lines of the American model.

Limit contributions to political parties and individual candidates to individual citizens. Have a limit as to how much each person can contribute, £100, £1000, £5000, whatever – I don’t know what a good number would be but it shouldn’t be that difficult to figure out.

There are always going to be question marks about public financing, most of all who decides how much each party gets and the current system seems to be broken. I think that at least this would have some sort of benefit by reducing the influence of lobbyists and getting politicians to actually connect with all voters rather than focusing all their attentions on swing voters in middle england.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Current affairs






6 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs


  1. MaidMarian — on 22nd October, 2008 at 12:39 pm  

    Shariq – It is an interesting debate and one that is too often ducked because there is no one right answer. Credit to you for taking it on.

    I am no fan of state funding at all, but to be honest I do wonder if it is the lesser evil. The state should not fund political parties as such but in saying that it strikes me that the mindset for private funding just is not there.

    If every party funding story provokes a media witch hunt is it any surprise that no one wants to talk about the issue, still less tackle it? In the states, donating to political parties is seen as a great example of civic participation. Here it attracts media coverage not far off an assumption of guilt of buying/selling influence.

    Yes – politicians have hardly covered themself in glory on this issue and have been less than brave. But saying that the flip side is that the comment environment is hardly one that encourages bravery.

    One route may be greater anonymity in donations – hardly a panacea of course but it could be a starting point for cooling the debate and removing the ‘personalities’ element.

  2. Cabalamat — on 22nd October, 2008 at 1:29 pm  

    Limit contributions to political parties and individual candidates to individual citizens. Have a limit as to how much each person can contribute, £100, £1000, £5000, whatever – I don’t know what a good number would be but it shouldn’t be that difficult to figure out.

    In the USA it is $2300 so I would suggest that something like £1000-2000 would be about right over here. And if people aren’t prepared to donate large amounts like the do to Obama? Then the parties will just have to make do with less money. It’s not as if campaigning is expensive these days, it costs very little to make You Tube videos, have a web site, etc.

    There are always going to be question marks about public financing, most of all who decides how much each party gets and the current system seems to be broken.

    I would say give them a small amount per year per vote they got in the last election, say 10p.

    While we’re at it, end the large deposits needed to figt an election — in the European parlaiment it is £5000 — this should be reduced to about £200.

    getting politicians to actually connect with all voters rather than focusing all their attentions on swing voters in middle england

    To do that you would have to change the voting system — at the moment the only people whose votes count are floating voters in marginal constituencies, so obviously the parties will pay more attention to these people.

  3. Mezba — on 22nd October, 2008 at 3:36 pm  

    We have this in Canada now for a while and it seemed to have benefited the Conservatives more as they have a database of small donors whereas the Liberals historically depended on a bunch of big donors.

  4. MaidMarian — on 22nd October, 2008 at 7:11 pm  

    Cabalamat – ‘To do that you would have to change the voting system — at the moment the only people whose votes count are floating voters in marginal constituencies’

    The second part of that may well be true, but I’m less sure about the first part. A floating voter is a floating voter – granted the numbers may change under PR relative to other models, but I’m not sure about the idea that PR will prevent politicians having to chase the mythic swing vote.

  5. Shariq — on 22nd October, 2008 at 7:39 pm  

    Let me explain my position on swing voters. Right now politicians have only one relationship with their voters – how to get their votes.

    In America they have two relationships. How to get their votes and how to get their money. Therefore although there is still an emphasis on swing voters and especially swing states, they also need to maintain a relationship with their base as they are the ones who donate money.

    Mezba, I don’t think the problem you highlight is insoluble. People said the same thing about America before Obama.

    MM, I think that the current situation where people like Ecclestone can make huge donations raises big questions about ethics whereas lots of small donations would simply reflect voter preference.

  6. douglas clark — on 22nd October, 2008 at 10:03 pm  

    Shariq,

    I tend to fear, perhaps wrongly, that out party political system has become moribund. There are huge tracts of this country where there is no real contest at a General Election and a third party candidate has little or no chance. I would have thought it would be difficult to get voters – on either side of the divide – to divvy up money in those circumstances. It seems to me that, in order to make our politics a bit more vibrant requires a three or four stage process:

    Firstly there is a need to develop far more political involvement amongst the public in general. It is not that they are not political, it is just that they tend to be issue specific, I, for instance have been a member of Amnesty International longer than you can shake a stick at, but, up until very recently that was my only political involvement. And, that at least in part, is because our national politics are fossilised.

    You can see a far more active, and frankly partizan involvement in the US than you can here.

    Daily Kos, for instance, raised circa $750,000, basically over a weekend, for – the incredibly named Elwyn Tinklenberg – the opponent of Michele Bachmann, the Republican who wanted to take the US back to McCarthyism. http://tinklenberg08.blogspot.com/

    I was frankly rather gobsmacked by that.

    This is an entirely obscure race in the Minnesota 06 House race. Admittedly it is difficult to tell whether or not it would have gone viral anyway, but it is an excellent example of left wing(ish) anger being properly channelled.

    The nearest the broad Liberal / Left here has to a web site of that nature is Liberal Conspiracy, which, whilst starting to attract some attention is nowhere near that league yet. So, that’s first, develop the base. Win some battles, pull more folk in.

    Next, onwards and upwards. I am seeing, correct me if I am wrong, a substantial disconnect between the views of left wing bloggers (and people that just leave comments, like me), and the frankly statist approach this government is now taking. It is, in my opinion, up to us to determine how to subvert that whole managerialist, careerist artifact. Or at least have a conversation that is not mediated by Party Politics. The debates around 24 weeks and 42 days have suggested to me, at least, that the left in this country is far more libertarian than the Labour Party’s focus groups would suggest. I think that there is a different consensus to be reached, and I think it would be a better one.

    If we can get to that point, then I do think folk would contribute funds, because they would own it.

    Sorry if this was a bit lengthy, but I wanted to get it off my chest – and onto yours ;-)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.