The faux outrage the Labour and Green party are expressing over National Party fund-raising is an attempt to soften people up to a policy of state funding for political parties.
Cabinet Clubs have been around for years, operating when National is in government and when it isn’t.
They are run by volunteers in electorates, as any other electorate fund-raiser is.
People are charged either an annual fee or by the event for the opportunity to met with like-minded people, most of whom are other members, over a meal with a visiting MP who is usually, but not always a minister, or when National is in opposition, a spokesperson.
This is all quite within the rules and it’s arrant hypocrisy for Labour to be insinuating there’s something wrong with it when at last year’s conference they were selling one on one time with their MPs:
They have asked corporates to buy a stand in their marketplace for $1,500 and in return they get:
An opportunity to meet 1:1 in a short meeting with your choice (subject to availability) of Members of Parliament and senior Party officials (further information regarding this will be sent to you on payment).
If paying for lunch at which an MP speaks and attendees get an opportunity to ask questions or offer views, in a group, offends the left, how much worse is selling one on one time?
MPs who comes to Cabinet Club functions get no money. All funds raised above costs go to fund the electorate’s activities including election campaigns and levies to run the party. All funds for the latter come from membership, fund-raising by volunteers and donations.
The best way to raise funds is by membership. Not just for the money paid directly through the annual fee but also the people power members provide for supporting the party financially and in other ways including the time and effort put in to campaigning.
The left know they are at a disadvantage here.
National is the only party left in New Zealand which can still claim 10s of thousands of members.
Labour’s leadership campaign last year boosted their membership but even if they retained most of them they are unlikely to have more than 10,000 members, if that.
The Green Party has far fewer members, that’s why they require MPs to pay 10% of their salaries to the party.
Unable or unwilling to attract grass root members, the left is trying to soften the electorate up to a policy of state funding of parties.
Parties are voluntary organisations like sports and service clubs, churches, the AA and thousands of other organisations of like-minded people who fund their own activities and should have no call on the public purse.
It’s not just about the money, it’s about participatory democracy. Political parties are of their people, for their people and should be funded by their people, not other people’s taxes.
What’s better for democracy – parties funded by people who voluntarily support them, or state funding?
If parties can’t engender enough support to fund themselves, do they really deserve to be in parliament, let alone government?