Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Unlock Democracy: End the Big Donor Culture

Across the country, everyone is facing up to the consequences of the economic downturn. Taxes are higher, public services and benefits are being cut. People are struggling. Yet if the political parties have their way, for them it will be business as usual.

Last week, the Committee on Standards in Public Life published their report to “end the big donor culture”. After a decade of funding scandals, ranging from the Bernie Ecclestone affair and “loans for Lordships” outrage five years ago through to millions donated to the Liberal Democrats by fraudster Michael Brown and the recent Liam Fox/Adam Werrity controversy, the Committee has recommended introducing a cap on all individual and corporate donations to political parties set at £10,000 per year.

Even before the report was published, all three party leaders moved to dampen down expectations of reform by rejecting the suggestion to increase state funding of parties. Given the state of the economy, they have a point. But we can’t let the parties use this as a excuse not to act on the report’s central demand and wean themselves off rich donors and special interests.

Write to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg today and demand that political parties live within their means and introduce a cap on political donations:

http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/caps

Last year the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that he would be launching cross-party talks to clean up party funding, arguing that: “The current rules by which funding is received and spent have got the balance wrong. They allow a system in which wealthy donors and vested interests are far too prevalent. That advantage is wholly unacceptable, and the perception of politicians in the pockets of their paymasters is deeply corrosive.”

All of this still applies and with the recent scandal surrounding former defence secretary Liam Fox, the need to take big money out of politics has been highlighted once again.

It is crucial we take action on capping party donations before the next big scandal erupts. If the result is that political parties will have to live within their means - like everyone else at the moment - so be it. They shouldn’t be able to use the excuse of the economy being in a parlous state as an excuse for more delay. Indeed, at a time of cuts, ensuring the political process isn’t being dominated by vested interests is even more pressing.

So I’m writing to the main party leaders and demanding that they commit to introducing a cap on donations. Please join me by clicking on the link below today

http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/caps

Many thanks,

Peter Facey
Director, Unlock Democracy