Party funding - The pot calling the kettle black

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4 December 2007

When Blair left office, back in June, he was under investigation for the cash for honours affair. Now, 6 months on, Brown's government has to face a police probe over Labour's funding, the resignation of its general secretary and maybe more to come.

This latest "scandal" did not break out by itself, though. The Mail on Sunday, obviously directed from Tory HQ, saw to it that it did. It revealed on 25 November that David Abrahams, a wealthy property developer, had channelled £650,000 to Labour over 4 years, via different intermediaries, without his name being mentioned - which made these donations illegal.

Following in the steps of the Mail on Sunday, the Tory propaganda machine went into overdrive in order to make political capital out of this latest "scandal" calling for the resignation of all and sundry and demanding Scotland Yard's intervention.

But all this for what? For the equivalent of a £165,000/year donation? That is, significantly less than the £210,000 maximum granted annually to any MP (including salary and expenses, but excluding pension)! In and of themselves, such sums would not be worth a peep, in the world of parliamentary politics - that is, if the issue was not one of outright politicking.

Above all, coming from the Tories, such virtuous clamour is a bit rich. The Tory party has never been short of wealthy donors and fat donations. But there is more to this than donations. There is also, for instance, the support that the press barons provide to their Tory friends via papers such as the Mail and the Telegraph, which is not counted as a political "donation". Yet, as this latest scandal shows, such support is certainly worth millions to the Tory party!

And this is the real scandal in this society - the fact that the parties' political clout depends on their ability to mobilise the funding and support of the largest possible number of companies and rich capitalists - rather than on their real support among the majority of the population. As a result, behind the smokescreen of the ballot box, the wealthy dictate, and ministers comply - that is, until the day when the working population decides to do away with this rotten profit system and exercises political power itself, directly.