Skip to main content

The invisible hand in political finances

As it is revealed that the Labour Party could be up to 24 million Pounds in debt, and that the senior officers of the party could be personally liable. It begins to look like the slow erosion of the Labour Party might end up being something a lot more dramatic. Could this be the free market's revenge against Socialism?

However, when I hear Conservatives trying to claim ownership of the ideas of the free market, I do get a bit irritated. Why? Because one of the biggest rigged markets of all is the political market, and Conservatives seem determined to preserve this rigged market in all its steam-age, Victorian glory.

The absence of transparency and accountability limits consumer -i.e. voter- decision making power. Meanwhile the barriers to entry are so high that over the past century only three parties have ever held office at Westminster. Of course, it is not strictly true to say that the two party system has continued unchanged- the Liberal party, in 1906 crushingly triumphant, was reduced by splits and defections to near annihilation. It is true that the politics of the twenties saw many Conservatives back both a Liberal and even a Labour Prime Minister. However despite anomalies, British political parties have had a remarkable endurance all the same.

I believe in a free market in politics- that political openness and pluralism offer the same benefits to a society as consumer free choice does in the economic sphere. This is why I believe that the rigged electoral system should be changed- so that the results of elections reflect what people vote for, rather than what some power elite thinks should be the result. I also believe in far greater accountability and transparency in political decision making, including returning far more decisions to the individual or the level closest to the individual.

Of course it means that one party alone is unlikely to gain a majority unless that is what the voters actually elect. However the current party political system merely disguises the process of coalition building. Labour is a fusion of many different political strands, and so are the Conservatives. It would be more open if the liberal Conservatives stood as liberal Conservatives, while the Cornerstone, socially right wing Conservatives stood as themselves too. That way the electorate would have more information and more choice about which candidates should represent them. Frankly I find it cringe-making and frankly dishonest when politicians from the same party, who clearly profoundly disagree (and who probably loathe each other) try to make nice. Even the broad coalitions of the current party system struggle to gain much more than a third of the vote although our political system may still hand over 100% of the power to one or another of them.

It is hard to believe that Labour, as the party of government, could actually go bankrupt. The financial Armageddon would surely be followed by political nemesis. However, even assuming that Labour deals with this crisis, all will be far from well. Since the fiasco over the appointment of the new general secretary, it is clear that the party will struggle for some time- it will simply not be able to compete with the Conservatives' Ashcroft millions. Meanwhile the morale of the party, already damaged by the missteps of Gordon Brown is plummeting still further. In High Wycombe, my Labour opponent has recently defected to the Liberal Democrats- a course I suggested to her on the hustings in 2005. Other defections are sure to follow.

I have long believed that the intellectual death of Socialist ideology should be followed by the end of even nominally Socialist political parties. Although I suspect that Labour will survive this particular crisis without a meltdown, I also think that Blairism will, in hindsight, be seem as the Labour Party's last hurrah. The Party with an ideology vacuum found itself led by a charismatic but unprincipled Prime Minister, but upon his departure the political market began to notice that the Labour Emperor has no clothes.

It would be a final-but inevitable- irony if the historic reconciliation of Labour with the free market- exemplified by the end of Clause 4- resulted in "the project" killing the Party.

And I believe that-ultimately- it will.


Anonymous said…
Frankly I find it cringe-making and frankly dishonest when politicians from the same party, who clearly profoundly disagree (and who probably loathe each other) try to make nice - Err so Prodi's Government was a haven of peace and tranquillity then.
Anonymous said…
Remember, it is in the interests of both the Tories and Labour to see the LibDems -- or any non-extreme third party -- fail, as the drain could be on both sides. With the LibDems now committed (correctly) on a centre ground, both sides will rather fight a duel rather than with an interloper.

This is why the success of the SNP up north has the strategists so up in arms.

Popular posts from this blog

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie.  The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship.  The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and

We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election". OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.   BUT, and it really is the bi

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo