Fund a political alternative to the establishment parties

WHAT COULD be done with £18.9 million? It could help fund a local hospital or school. But that figure is the limit on political parties for national spending in this general election. Cameron, Clegg or Brown’s face on billboards, with a ridiculous message, are funded from the £18.9 million. And this figure is before the individual constituencies spend their money on their candidates.

Kevin Parslow

A British general election is nowhere near as expensive – yet – as in America, where a billion dollar election took place in 2008. But all three big parties have tried to get donations from companies.

When Blair became leader and later prime minister, New Labour got millions from big business. However, the capitalists no longer believe that discredited New Labour can carry out the size of cuts to services and living standards that they require to make ordinary people pay for their crisis. And although Alan Sugar gave £400,000 recently, most big business funding to New Labour has dried up.

The capitalists’ hopes that the Tories will be elected were shown by Cameron’s party getting the lion’s share of donations in the week ending 13 April. They received nearly £1.5 million in a week from just 33 individual ‘gifts’! They have also had millions of pounds in recent years from self-declared ‘non-domiciled’ Lord Ashcroft to spend in marginal constituencies.

The Liberal Democrats only received £20,000 that week but that was before the media-inspired ‘Cleggmania’ took hold. Increased donations will probably be reflected in the next figures. However, the Lib Dems have been allowed to keep a donation of £2.4 million from convicted fraudster Michael Brown!

With the backing from big business cooling, New Labour has relied more on the trade unions to fund their campaign. The government has given workers very little in exchange over 13 years and trade unions have an even more restricted right to strike than in 1997. Yet still the trade unions fund this pro-capitalist party.

Recently, the building workers’ union Ucatt gave £371,000 and shop workers’ union Usdaw donated £266,000 of their members’ money. Unite has donated £11 million to Labour since the merged union was founded in 2007. Likewise Unison has given Labour around £1.5 million each year.

The Socialist Party does not believe trade unions should be non-political but they should donate money to parties representing their interests. New Labour does not do that. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has received donations from the RMT transport union but what effect could it have if trade unions funded genuine workers’ candidates with millions of pounds?

Trade unions must stop funding New Labour and put their resources into building a fighting alternative for workers.