Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/433/5101

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 March 2006

Why socialists oppose state funding of political parties

"Nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and setting a fine example"

Machiavelli

TONY BLAIR once said he'd studied Machiavelli's The Prince. As New Labour is again mired in accusations and evidence of sleaze, he seems to have forgotten a key element in that work. With the Metropolitan Police's decision to investigate the sale of peerages, which has been illegal since 1925, setting a fine example is the last thing his government is celebrated for!

Tony Mulhearn

The striking feature about the latest scandal of anonymous loans and public donations connected to peerages is that both the Tories and New Labour are under the spotlight. Not only are both parties' reactionary policies almost identical, their fund-raising practices are equally repellent.

New Labour's millionaire clients loaned 14 million, with a similar amount in donations. The trade unions have also donated large sums. As a reward for their generosity the fat cats have grown fatter while trade union members have been consistently attacked, exemplified by Gordon Brown declaring that 100,000 civil service jobs would disappear.

Only one scalp has been claimed so far. Rod Aldridge, chairman of outsourcing firm Capita, stepped down, rejecting the charge that his 1 million loan to Labour resulted in the group being rewarded with lucrative contracts.

It would take a collective suspension of disbelief for people to accept that lavish donations by Blair's millionaire friends had no part in the peerages the likes of Lord Sainsbury received. After all, he has kicked in only 2 million.

Leader in waiting Gordon Brown defends the bung/loan culture, saying "these loans are made normally in good faith by people who want to help the cause they believe in." That begs the question: which cause do the millionaire class find so worthy of support?

Corruption

THESE EVENTS triggered off a debate about state funding of political parties. The Commons constitutional affairs committee is looking at alternative funding methods for political parties. The usual suspects support the idea: Blunkett says "it's inevitable." John Prescott has shifted from being totally opposed to embracing state funding as being the only way of being "properly accountable."

The European Assembly in a recent debate recognised that: "Citizens are showing growing concern with regard to corruption linked to political parties' gradual loss of independence and the occurrence of improper influence on political decision through financial means."

They recommend the adoption of "common rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns," and a combination of state funding and strictly controlled donations. Most capitalist commentators echo these sentiments.

All these worthies also lament the disengagement of people from party politics and the electoral process that "is bad for democracy." They argue that funding from supporters is no longer sufficient to fund political parties. The question not answered by these analysts is 'Why?'

Socialists recognise that historically, political parties either flourish or die depending on how effectively they represent their class. In 1889, pressure from the employers for greater productivity produced the great London dock strike that led to the formation of trade unions that hitherto had been mainly the preserve of skilled workers.

This development, known as New Unionism, helped push the TUC and a number of workers' organisations to form the Labour Representation Committee (LRC).

The attack on funds of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, who were successfully sued by the Taff Vale Company for profits lost through strike action, was the impetus for the establishment of a party of workers, founded by workers, that would campaign for parliamentary representation.

This succeeded in breaking working-class support from the Liberals in 1906 when 29 Labour MPs were elected, and the LRC became the Labour Party, which was funded by the trade unions and members' individual contributions.

The Tory Party was big business' main party for a long period. But after the sleaze-ridden Tory party of Thatcher and Major, big business strategists calculated that a tame Labour Party cleansed of its cutting edge would have to suit them, at least for a period of time.

By aping the most naked aspects of Toryism and metamorphosing into an openly neo-liberal party, New Labour has disenfranchised Labour's historic base. Hence the haemorrhaging of membership and finance, loss of support at the last two general elections and at local authority level.

New Labour's problem is how to replace the support and loyalty they once took for granted. The establishment, wishing to maintain the 'integrity' of their political system in ordinary people's eyes, recognise they can't keep entrepreneurial noses out of the pig trough, so advance the notion of state funding which will be seen to render political parties independent.

Financial support

SUCH A notion is false to the core. In capitalist society those with the wealth will always find ways to support the party that reflects their interests. And working-class people will be horrified at the idea of some of their taxes going to fund big business parties like the Tories, New Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Socialists should resist the call for state funding of political parties. A party which represents the working class will need to depend on the support it receives from that class. The Liverpool city council struggle in the 1980s proved that electoral and financial support will be forthcoming when working people see in action their party meeting their aspirations.

Those trade union leaders who keep breathing life into New Labour's rotting carcass should follow the example of the RMT and FBU unions by withdrawing support from New Labour. Then their members' hard-earned contributions could be redirected to a new workers' party prepared to struggle for a better life for all.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 30 March 2006:


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Stop the NHS jobs massacre

New Labour's NHS lies

Call for NHS demo gets support

Huddersfield trust votes for cuts - but campaign gets stronger

Save jobs and beds at the Royal Free


Pensions

Britain - Over one million strike for pension rights...

'Time for a new working-class party'


International socialist news and analysis

France - millions march for job security

USA: Millions march for immigrant workers' rights

Ukraine's 'orange revolution' goes pear-shaped

Will ETA's strategy lead to Basque national rights?


Socialist Party review

Paradise Now

Gordon's global gurus


Socialist Party campaigns

Why socialists oppose state funding of political parties

Local council services are still worth fighting for

Council elections: Great response in Lewisham

Stoke UNISON prepares for action against cuts

Strong support for minimum wage demand

Lambeth College students launch campaign against cuts

Save chemistry - sack the vice-chancellor!


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 March 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Labour:

triangleBirmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

triangleEnfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist

triangleMajority of BFAWU members vote to break from Labour

triangleReaders' Opinion

triangleUnite general secretary campaign: Statement from Sharon Graham

Unions:

triangleNeonatal leave introduced: Unions must fight for extensions and full pay

triangleIf unions give a lead, workers are fully prepared to fight and win victories

triangleSave our NHS from the Tories

triangleOrganise for 3 July pay protests

Big business:

triangleG7 tax deal won't challenge corporate power

triangleVote TUSC to oppose sleazy capitalism

triangleNationalise Liberty Steel to save jobs

Trade unions:

triangleWest London Socialist Party: How do marxists organise in the trade unions?

triangleLatest podcast: PCS elections - the struggle for fighting trade unionism

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/6/21

Leicestershire

Engineers in fourth week of strike action

16/6/21

PCS

Conference 2021: Divide between union leaders and rank-and-file exposed

16/6/21

Electricians

Sparks win victory!

16/6/21

NHS

Underpaid, overworked - NHS workers say: 'Enough is enough'

16/6/21

Enfield

Enfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist

16/6/21

Unite

Left candidate needed for Unite general secretary election

16/6/21

Finance

National finance meeting

16/6/21

Unison

Socialist Party to the fore at Unison LG conference

16/6/21

Birmingham

Birmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

16/6/21

Cornwall

Johnson's G7 hypocrisy

16/6/21

Homelessness

Pandemic homeless

16/6/21

Protest

International solidarity protests

16/6/21

Socialist

Queues at Socialist Party stall in Cov

16/6/21

BFAWU

Majority of BFAWU members vote to break from Labour

16/6/21

NHS

Now is the time to fight for the NHS

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999