“I Wanna Tell You a Story” was how Max Bygraves used to start one part of his stage routine, as those old enough will know.
Well, I wanna tell you a story, too. It’s a story of how corrupt, unprincipled and self serving British politicians are. Indeed, they seem to deceive themselves that, because this particular arrangement is operated in plain sight (so to speak), it is acceptable.
The matter to which I refer is the “Policy Development Grants Scheme 2006” which originated in section 12 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
Whatever else was included in the Labour Party’s manifesto for the 1997 General Election (or, indeed, that of any of the other parties benefitting) it does not seem to be this cosy financial arrangement whereby £2million of public funds is divided between ‘eligible’ parties each year.
Parties which are currently eligible are:
Conservative and Unionist Party
Democratic Unionist Party – D.U.P.
Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales
Scottish National Party (SNP)
SDLP (Social Democratic & Labour Party)
Note: They were awarded to help parties in developing policies to include in manifestos for the recent European Parliament elections which, given that UKIP was not a recipient, puts UKIP’s success in a new light!
The method of apportionment is quite arbitrary and related to the electoral success of the relevant parties; there is no obvious ‘development of policy’ involved. It is merely an excuse, a pretext to grant public funding to specified political parties who are represented by two or more Members in the Commons.
Together with Short Money and Cranborne Money, it confers financial advantage to established political parties but not to new or small political parties. It gives the lie to the British political system being open. Remember these schemes the next time you hear Cameron or Clegg or Miliband pontificating about democracy! This dubious practice may well be consistent with British values, but NOT English values nor the English sense of fair play!
HERE ARE LINKS TO RELEVANT SOURCES TO ENABLE READERS TO CHECK FOR THEMSELVES:
The Elections (Policy Development Grants Scheme) Order 2006: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/602/pdfs/uksi_20060602_en.pdf
Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/41/contents
PS: Max Bygraves stories were usually more humourous!