Party political donations have been a running sore on body politics the world over. Your opinion all depends of course on where you sit on the political spectrum. If you’re on the right, you’ll clearly assume and argue that everyone has the right to contribute in terms of that circle of individual freedoms they so delight in under such circumstances.
Except, that is, when it comes to political and economic opinions and the oft-held desires by progressives to change the existing order of things.
Meanwhile, if you’re on the left you’ll be inclined to assert the right of organised labour to support a political wing of action such as the British Labour Party represents.
Thus we get these extraordinarily bitter arguments for and against trades union-funded political parties.
One group, however, for some strange reason, is generally left out of the above equation. A Facebook friend of mine reminded me of this collective in a couple of Facebook posts of his yesterday, when referring to the amounts of PR and lobbying money, as well as out-and-out party funding, which private-sector companies seem to find from the profits they make out of their customers (ie you and me). And whilst the companies in question – in the story linked to these are American banks, already recovering from the shame of their recent bailouts as they revert to their old bumptious selves – will argue all such monies have the approval of their shareholders, I do wonder if it wouldn’t be reasonable to explicitly consult customers as well – in much the same way, that is, as trades union hierarchies are required to consult their members.
And at the very very least, provide a percentage of how much money was being spent on the different political parties.
The latter would work in the following quite simple sort of way: every time you received an invoice or receipt, at the bottom or on the back there would figure how much of that sale went to political lobbying, PR and party funding – as well as to which parties the contributions in question were being made. In such a way, the consumer would via a traffic light system akin to current food labelling be able to determine whether he or she wanted to purchase a product or not.
The party funding systems as they currently existed could continue to exist – but it would be the relatively free market of informed customers which would decide in the end whether to punish a company for either contributing to a party they really didn’t like or, alternatively, contributing far too much of their income – and consequently the prices they charged to such end-users and customers – to means and ends which had very little to do with their core activities.
A way of controlling the American super PACs and any equivalent organisations and networks in the UK?
It’s a thought, anyhow.