The political news story of the week is all about money. Specifically, how should politicians be allowed to get theirs? Sir Hayden Phillips, who has been looking carefully, thinks political parties should receive more state funding. Which, really, means all of us paying for them.
That might seem like a bad idea. I, for one, don’t like politicians very much, and political parties even less – although I’m not sure how you can ever stop them forming, or if that would truly be a Good Thing. So you can understand why I wouldn’t want my money to be given to them, regardless of whether I believe in their dogmas or not.
On the other hand, though, what’s the alternative? If political parties are funded solely by their supporters, the richest party is the party of the rich. A huge, overbalanced proportion of this country’s wealth is in the hands of a tiny fraction of the people, and it’s only getting worse. That gives those people an enormous advantage when it comes to seeking political power; restricting how much money they can raise is vital to reduce that. You can argue endlessly about how state funding should be distributed, what way is fairest, but you’re unlikely to come up with any system less representative than “give it to the people already with the most”.