Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Policy Exchange on political funding

Michael Pinto-Duschinsky gets many things right, for instance, that the Electoral Commission should regulate more firmly, and that the postal vote system we have now is too open to abuse, but he makes a gross error in this report for the Policy Exchange think-tank.

He writes: "Since the late 1960s there has been a huge and ever-continuing growth in indirect state subsidies for the political class [...] By 2006-07, local councillors in Britain were receiving over £216million in salaries and allowances"

Firstly, councillors are not salaried, because they are not employed (though our current political masters seem to regard them as subject to Westminster's will). Secondly, the allowances which they receive are personal compensation for the time which they dedicate to work on behalf of the community, time which would often be better-paid by an employer. Thirdly, allowances come from council treasuries, not central government. Finally, while there are no doubt councillors who abuse their local expenses régime, these are provided to ease the burden of those who find it an imposition to pay for travel to meetings etc. out of their own pocket.

In other words, apart from my own party which regrettably resolved that a tithe of elected members' receipts should go to central funds, councillors allowances and expenses are neither in intention or in fact a state subsidy to political parties.

Even if they were, what does Pinto-Duschinsky make of all the Independents, who also receive these allowances?

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