Serious Fraud Office investigations into political donations has prompted the inevitable calls for taxpayer funding of political parties.
. . . “Politicians having to justify their work to supporters, members, and donors is healthy. Public funding would give a huge advantage to the established political parties. It professionalises politics and stamps on the grass roots.”
“The vast majority of donations made to political parties are small. That is a good thing. It means politicians and party bosses are accountable to many.”
Besides, whoever the funder is, there will have to be rules and where there’s rules there will be honest ones who keep them and dishonest ones who will break them.
The furor over alleged funding impropriety has also led to calls for full disclosure of every donation.
That is unnecessary.
People who donate to all sorts of causes, political or not, choose to do so anonymously for a variety of reasons including not wanting to show off their generosity.
A charitable trust of which I am a trustee has received a $20,000 donation this week and a $10,000 donation a couple of weeks ago. The donors in both cases prefer to keep their philanthropy quiet.
Charitable donations are different from political ones, but the right to privacy for donors of smaller amounts still stands.
If politicians can be bought for the amounts under the threshold for disclosure, it’s the politicians who are wrong not the threshold.
That said, the SFO investigations provide grounds for a look at current rules governing behavior of political parties including the powers and capacity the Electoral Commission has to initiate investigations and deal with complaints.
Election after election there are complaints that one party or another has breached the rules and election after election nothing is resolved until well after polling day.
If the commission had much stronger teeth and the capacity to investigate and, should it be necessary, act expediently
It might not stop the dishonest bending or breaking the rules but it would increase the chance of them being caught, should it be likely to influence an election, caught in time to ensure voters are informed before they vote.