26.05.2011 // by George Gabriel // View comments
It's rare that you can identify a hinge on which our politics turns - but party funding is one of them.
Parties play an important role in our politics - presenting competing understandings of the past, competing visions for the future for people to choose from. These are the dreams that animate our politics and quite frankly they must not be for sale.
Over the past few years it seems you can literally hear our current system of party funding falling apart. Creak - dodgy donors. Creak - cash for honors. Creak - billionaires from Belize.
We all feel it, the strains put on our democracy through the malign influence of big money upon it. The one place where we're all meant to be able to come together as equals to work out how on earth all the diverse peoples of this country are going to live together and we see influence transparently bought and sold.
Party funding is a key dynamic through which big money subverts democracy, pushing politics closer and closer into line with its interests and values. Whatever your ideology, or view on where we should as a country be going, any democrat will agree that those decisions must be made in free and fair debate by the people - a debate currently distorted by a system of party funding which both allows donors to teach individual parties what to say and then ensures they have different sized megaphones to say it with!
If you want to pick the song then speak to the organ grinder.
Our political parties are too important to our politics for us to allow them to be subjected to such pressures. Without sustained and real pressure from civil society parties will not be able to reform their own funding systems - it is understandably difficult for them to work out what a fair system would be and then pass it through the mire of their conflicting interests.
Take Back Parliament and the wider democratic reform sector should mobilise to set limits on the power of money on politics. We should strive to establish fair principles for party funding, negotiate the divergent interests of political parties, win the argument for our settlement and then force it through against the interests that will oppose us. More »