pasty tax

50p - A small price to pay for cleaning up politics?

26th March 2012
26 Mar 2012
state funding
pasty tax
party spending
donation caps
party funding


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Following the ‘cash for access’ scandal the Electoral Reform Society has called on all parties to have a “grown-up” debate on the future of party funding – a discussion that must include the public funding option.
In November the Committee on Standards on Public Life’s proposed a modest “pence per voter” model for supporting UK parties - a tiny fraction of what European parties currently receive in state aid. [1]
The 50p figure is approximately what the government now expects the public to pay through its now infamous ‘pasty tax’.
Katie Ghose, the Electoral Reform Society's Chief Executive said.
The last 24 hours have shown why we desperately need a level playing field on party funding. But as long as politicians shy away from even putting public funding into the mix there is little chance of it being achieved.

"Yes, theseallegations can’t be swept under the carpet, but that’s precisely what the parties are doing with the state funding debate. 50p seems a small price to pay to clean up politics, and no more than the government now expects us to stump-up on top of a Cornish pasty.

"The public should not have to pick up the tab for the parties’ excesses. Any solution to the funding crisis needs to end the arms race that sees them pour millions into a handful of marginal seats. Local spending limits would remind parties of their vital public function – and that’s good news for local voters, local parties and the health of our democracy.

"Chasing the big money out of politics means difficult choices. We urgently need a grown-up debate on donation caps, public funding and spending limits. Taking any option off the table now would be nothing short of negligent.”

The Society has also confronted some of the myths surrounding the ‘Obama Model’ of party funding – pointing to independent research that shows the US president raised more in large donations than any candidate in American political history. [2]. Katie Ghose added:
Let’s not pretend the internet offers us a silver bullet. Those who claim UK parties just need to ‘Do an Obama’ with small online donations are being staggeringly naive. The US president made remarkable headway with small donors, but the evidence shows this in no way diminished the impact of big money.”
[1] The Committee on Standards in Public Life published its Thirteenth Report, Political Party Finance - Ending the big donor culture in November 2011. The report can be downloaded  The median state subsidy in Council of Europe member states at £3.25 per person per year. The UK’s current indirect state contributions already equal 35p per person, per year.
[2] See research from the Campaign Finance Institute, a non-partisan institute in 2008, which showed that Obama raised 80% more from large donors than small, outstripping all rivals and predecessors