Peter Hoskin

The next scandal waiting to happen?

There’s something perturbing about this story on party funding in the Times:

“Hundreds of donations to political parties are to be kept secret under plans being slipped through the House of Lords.

Labour and the Conservatives have been accused of collusion over plans to raise the threshold above which parties must report donations from £5,000 to £7,500. The move is opposed by heavyweight figures such as Lord Neill of Bladen, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, who said that there was no real justification for the increase.

The Electoral Commission has said: ‘An increase of this level has the potential to reduce public confidence in the transparency and integrity of political funding.’

The move is likely to be lucrative for political parties because it means people who want to give anonymously can give larger sums.” Of course, this differs from the expenses scandal in that there are private funds and private individuals involved – so there’s a stronger case against complete transparency.  But it still beggars belief that politicians are moving towards a less transparent system at a time when public confidence in the political process is shot to pieces.  The refrain from all the party leaders is that the current crisis is “about more than expenses”.  Whether for the sake of our democracy, or for their own electoral advantage, they’ve got to show that they mean it.

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