How much are tax-payers funding political parties already?

How much are tax-payers funding political parties already?

BBC IPlayer

Michael Crick’s programme is a must listen

I’ve just picked up on BBC IPlayer this great Radio 4 investigation by Michael Crick on the funding of political parties and the rise of what he calls “The Political Club”.

The programme blurb goes: “Michael Crick reveals how politicians are increasingly becoming a professionalised and separate class, who use their status to channel taxpayers’ money into the coffers of their parties.

The recent scandal over MPs’ expenses has revealed how politicians are spending taxpayers’ money on themselves, but what has not been revealed – until now – is how much public money is being diverted to political parties, or how that development is intimately related to the rise of a new club of professional politician. Michael reveals the extent – and cost – of this development, and what it means for our democracy.”

Crick looks at how things like the way the massive increase in thing like councillors’ expenses and allowances in the past decade has led to large sums being channelled into the party machines and what EU election victories for UKIP and the BNP mean for their campaigning machines.

Until the late 1980s councillors just got travel and subsistence expenses and could claim for more if could show that they were losing wages because of their council duties – why not return to that? Compensation for loss of earnings rather than an income stream in it itself.

What’s striking is that the amount public funds going to councillors seems to have increased in inverse proportion to their actual powers. Virtually al the big decisions these days are taken elsewhere yet they are voting themselves big piles of cash.

For those not holding council cabinet jobs their roles have been even more marginalised.

This programme raises a lot of issues. There are only two days left to listen.

Mike Smithson

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