Six years ago I wrote to the Times about party funding. They published my letter. Re-reading it yesterday-thanks to Simon Shaws excellent filing system-I find it is still relevant. Both Labour and Tories have failed to move on reforms. Whether it is cash for honours (as with Labour) or access the issue is the same. Anyway here is my proposal:
Published at 12:00AM, March 18 2006
Sir, The health of the body politic would be improved if political parties got money from a reinvigorated mass membership instead of rich donors.
Some measures would help: standard-rate tax relief on donations up to, say, £5,000; cap election spending; introduce a moderate contribution from the state and, finally, elect the House of Lords.
IAIN BRODIE BROWNE
The Tories poll ratings this morning (28/3/12)confirm that the general public still are very suspicious of the Tories and believe that they are on the side of the wealthy. The people who funded the nasty anti AV campaign are now in the spotlight. We have a real chance of gaining the public mood if we go for a bold package of reform. If we go all quiet and do it behind close doors the only winners are the Labour Party. Clegg might find it hard but he has no business easing the pressure on Cameron.
A cap of say £5 000 on all donations within a parliament-with maybe tax relief at the standard rate for individuals should be tied to abolition of the House of Lords. Let us not forget that donation scandals down the generation have often been linked to honours-as indeed was the recent Labour scandal.