Not Saussure

September 29, 2006

Mission impossible

Filed under: hubris, Politics, UK — notsaussure @ 8:10 pm

If he wins the next election, this promise is going to come back and haunt him:

David Cameron promised today that the next Conservative government would “clean up” British politics.

Amid reports that one of Tony Blair’s senior aides has been quizzed by police as part of the ongoing “cash for peerages” inquiry, the Tory leader said he wanted to restore trust in politics.

He’s making exactly the same mistake as did Blair when he made such a song and dance about ‘Tory sleaze’. Seems a tempting shot at an open goal, but Blair just ended up making problems for himself.

Having helped create a climate in which no one will believe that someone gives money to a political party without some base ulterior motive, and having ensured that all large individual donations had to be reported, Blair then wondered why no one wanted to risk obloquy by donating money. Meanwhile, political parties cost a lot to run, and the money has to come from somewhere. Answer: invent a half-cocked scheme to dress up donations as ‘loans’ and hope, somewhat over-optimistically, you don’t get rumbled.

If Cameron wins, he’ll have everyone scrutinising every contribution to Conservative Party funds with an highly suspicious eye, just waiting for someone to put a foot wrong. And they will.

I’d far rather he took what I’d see as a much more traditional and authentic Conservative attitude, saying something to the effect that he wants to be judged on what he actually does and doesn’t do; he won’t give peerages to dodgy characters and nor will he change his policies to suit donors, though if someone wants to give the party money because they like what it’s doing, then fine. It’s up to the electorate to decide if his government’s policies have been a success or not, not to worry about whether they like what they read in the papers about his funding. And because he believes in privacy and in people’s right to spend their money how they choose, he’s going to scrap the requirement that donations be reported.

The only problem is, that probably wouldn’t help get him elected. So I suppose we’d better prepare ourselves for yet another sleaze scandal a few years after a Tory victory. And for another set of unworkable proposals as we move ever closer to having politicians decide for us that our taxes will be used to fund their parties and political adverts, since we can’t be trusted to give them the money ourselves. Or, even if we are so inclined, they’ve managed to make giving your own money to a party so shameful a practice that no one wants to be associated with it, at least in public.

Update: Just come across this quote from The Countess of Mar, via Simon Carr’s site“I think it is accepted among peers that some have bought their peerages, although that has probably always been the case. Where it has gone to the dogs in the last 10 years is we have got a lot of people who have lost an election [to the Commons]. Why should we get the dross?”

Seems an eminently reasonable point of view. I’m not so much worried about how someone gets their job (unless it’s one I’m after, of course) as I am about how good they are at it.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] In a way I’m grateful to the people concerned for proving my point for me that Cameron’s promise to clean up politics would come back and haunt him, but I hadn’t expected nemesis to follow hubris quite so rapidly. I’m sure that between them, Robert Edmiston and Central Office have got enough decent accountants to put together a scheme that allows Constituency Campaigning Services to avoid the need for tight Electoral Commission control, and that they’ve done this precisely so wealthy Conservative supporters can give the party money without having the press wrongly suspect that, because some wrong ‘uns have given Labour money, anyone who gives money to any party must have ulterior motives. […]

    Pingback by Anything they can cock up, we can cock up better… « Not Saussure — October 3, 2006 @ 11:09 am

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