Sunday, December 02, 2007

Who should pay for party campaigns?

Brown said yesterday that trust is eroded very easily, personally I am not sure there is much trust in him left; his solution reform party funding. While it is a move to distract the agenda, it is also clear that something needs to be done to clean up party funding. The problem currently is that individuals are not meant to gain from donating, so why donate? The long history of donations from Ecclestone to Abrahams suggest that there has been a correlation between making a donation and gaining something in return; despite protestations of coincidence, it all seems too convenient for anyone with a cynical (or realist) perspective. The problem then is how to reform funding.

Discussion on capping donations from individuals is not popular. All the parties have big donors, why who knows we can assume only, but without them the party would be in trouble. So it comes down to the idea that public funds should replace private donations; this is not a vote winner! The electorate may expect a glossy and professional election campaign, but deciding to pay for it at the expense of other services or an increase in taxation is a little like turkeys voting for Christmas. As Keith Ewing argues, there is currently an arms race taking place between the parties over who has the best campaign, but this is unsustainable and it is this that needs rethinking as it is the cause of the funding problem.

But there may be another way. Parties have a problem due to the lack of mass membership. Campaigns can be efficient on the ground if there are local activists to work on the behalf of the party and they are willing to produce their own material. Equally a range of direct communication can be utilised to get messages across to the people. The reliance on television and the glossy centralised campaign, while also focusing on the floating voter and not the party loyalist is damaging the link between party and members and reducing the likelihood of activism. While membership funds may not pay for flashy HQs a simpler model of campaign communication, with more control in the hands of local parties and activists, may just make politics more about people than about winning power. Or am I just a little too idealistic?

Bottom line; is professional flashy, glossy or just what will work best for the money available?

1 comment:

Humayun said...

Political Party Funding:

In my opinion the current legislation relating to funding system is to complicated and administrative in nature. Misleading at worst and confusing at best.

To develop a successful party funding system, in my opinion, it needs to identify what a political party is? Is it an organisation that exists to make profit - in my opinion, yes! It exists to make profit; this may be in the form of votes or money, which it will use for its product (policy) or services (communication).

Obviously, the nature in which it operates is unique, in that, it is a power that wishes to represent the public.

However,there is a clear distinction between a political party and members of parliament. The cost of MP's are covered by peoples tax money. While political party fund themselves.

Therefore a political party could be viewed as a private business with added responsibility. In which case the funding system should operate under business legislation with added scrutinising systems.

For starters, a commission should be established looking at, funding source, funding reasons and a registration process. Any one wishing to fund a political party should let the commission know of their interest in funding a political party. Secondly, the reasoning behind this funding, justifying the intention of the funding should be established and finally, the political party should register receiving this funding. This would allow a trail exist of the whole funding process.

This could be done for donations or loans - and the commission should be set up like a charity, hence self suffecient and not posing any cost to the public.

Political communications:

After careful consideration, i think people are fed of being fed with messages and being communicated as a 'consumer'. Almost being looked upon as a servant to the elite of society.

No matter how many forms of communications are introduced, its a known fact a saturation of any form causes the collapse of a system.

Hence the rise of the cynical consumer and the destruction of society. Look at it from any level, social, economical, political, and it is obvious the current system of politics is not working.

In my opinion, political communication needs to exist not through the various medium channels because the messages are firstly, presented (mediated) in a bias view, secondly, the receiver of the message may not receive the message being sent. So by sending the message via websites, cameras, newspapers is a waste. Instead, in my view the only way communication can be engaged to its full potential especially within politics is through face to face communication with a mixture of various medium.

As a matter of fact, all communication theories establish that face to face is the best form of communication. But the problem is how to communicate to the widest audience? By using a mixture of mediums and face to face communication.

Further thought needed!