A report in ‘The Independent’ (28 December 2010) says that the Labour Party has written to the Committee on Standards in Public Life arguing for a cap of £500 on donations to political parties. According to the paper, ‘Mr Miliband is ready to gamble on Labour attracting thousands of small donations from individual supporters as part of a drive to take ‘big money’ out of politics’.
This may be a propaganda move on the leader’s part as the Tories are unlikely to accept such a low figure but even so there are major implications for the trade union contribution to Labour, at least in its present form. Allies of Miliband deny that he wants a symbolic break with the unions in order to tackle the supposed ‘Red Ed’ image propagated by the Tory press but whether an Obama style campaign to attract small donors via the internet can really replace the millions given by the affiliated unions is highly debatable.
Of even greater concern is a claim that the leader wants to give 25 per cent of the electoral college to non-party members who register as Labour ‘supporters’. To make this possible MPs, trade unionists and party members would each have their share of the college reduced from one third to one quarter.
Presumably Labour ‘supporters’ could also be given a say in the selection of parliamentary candidates as well. All of which leaves me scratching my head asking the question – if this sort of thinking is put into practice what would be the point of being a member in the first place?
Answers on a party card please.