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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cleaning up politics

Sky News reports that a committee of MPs has warned that the Government must take action to clean up party political funding before another "scandal intervenes". The Political and Constitutional Reform committee has called on the Coalition Government to stick to pledges to reform party financing "in order to remove big money from politics".

The problem though, as they identify, is to build a consensus around changes, and that seems as far away as ever. This is evidenced by the outcome of the 15-month inquiry by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which proposed last year that a £10,000 cap on donations be imposed in a bid to end "cash for influence" scandals and corruption allegations.

Under their plans, this funding would partly be paid for by a £23m-a-year taxpayer subsidy, but the three biggest parties united in opposition, saying that it was not acceptable in the present economic climate, even if the change was delayed until 2015.

We seem to be as far away from reform as ever. Should the Coalition go-ahead and impose it anyway? Could it get non-consensual changes through Parliament? Is there even an appetite for reform? It is about time that all the political parties got together and sorted this out.
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