Following the failure of the talks between the three main parties on possible public funding for political parties, the draft document under discussion by the parties has been made public. The document shows that there were proposals for donations from individuals to be capped at £50,000 but, to compensate for this, there would be greater funding allocated to political parties from the public purse.
The document recommended that parties should receive 40p a year for each vote cast for them in the most recent General Election, as well as 20p for every vote in elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the European Parliament. It also suggested that parties should receive £10 of public funding for every donation of £10 or more.
However, only eligible parties will qualify for taxpayers’ money. And to be eligible, parties must hold two seats at Westminster or in the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or European Parliament - and therefore genuine political parties such as Mebyon Kernow will be excluded from the arrangement.
Mebyon Kernow leader Cllr Dick Cole has condemned the content of the document as ‘undemocratic’ and claims that the move, if ever implemented, would further disadvantage small political parties. He said:
“The argument for the public funding of political parties has little support with the General Public and I am sure that levels of support for such reforms would decrease still further if the unfairness of the proposals under discussion were more widely known."
“It will be a disgrace if the main parties do not retreat from proposals which will further institutionalise inequality in Britain’s democratic system.”
At the last General Election, nearly 98% of votes cast in Cornwall, England, Scotland and Wales were for political parties which, at the time, would have qualified for public funding under this scheme (namely the Labour Party, Conservative Party, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, Green Party of England and Wales, Scottish Socialist Party and Scottish Green Party).
Parties which would have been excluded from political funding include Respect and the Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern (both presently represented at Westminster with a single MP each), the old Liberal Party, Forward Wales (represented in the Welsh Assembly until May 2007) and, of course, Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall.
Cllr Cole added:
“Where is the fairness in these proposal? Why should parties such as the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Greens all receive 40p per General Election vote – but not MK?”