A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Still here

I'm sorry to disappoint Chris Paul but I haven't given up blogging.

It's just been a busy week - a night off to see Babyshambles at Wembley Arena on Tuesday, Alan Davidson's funeral on Friday, and in between being Agent for the Springfield Ward by-election.

Like one of my least favourite Lib Dems Meral Ece I have been out canvassing in Springfield. Unlike her I haven't picked up any comments about recent national events having an impact on people's voting intentions. We've now found 1300 Labour "promises" - with over 2 weeks to go - and I think about 10 Lib Dems. This hasn't stopped the Lib Dem Focus newsletter proclaiming "it's a two horse race" between them and the Tories - this in a ward where in 2006 the Tories got 836 votes, Labour got 534 and the Lib Dems just 198, behind the Greens on 264. The "two horse race" is between the Lib Dems and Communist Monty Goldman to come 4th rather than 5th.

On the national stuff I don't buy the idea that one man making donations through third parties somehow shows the whole system of political funding is wrong. It shouldn't have happened and I doubt it will again but I'm not impressed by people with their own agendas - usually about breaking the union link - trying to draw wider lessons from an extremely quirky scenario. The Labour Party needs to tighten up its own procedures to ensure that donations are transparent, but the actual law as it stands in the PPERA only needs one change - the regulation of spending on campaigning between elections, which because of a civil service drafting error was left out of the Act, allowing rich donors or candidates to "buy" marginal seats with saturation spending in the "long" campaign.

I wrote the above before reading what Gordon Brown said to the NPF today. I haven't deleted it because on this specific aspect of this issue I happen to disagree with him. I'm against a cap on individual donations. As long as people are transparent about donating we should have a system that encourages people and groups of people such as trade unions to give money to political parties - not put limits on it in a way that somehow suggests donating is wrong or corrupting.

As we're on the subject of election law, the bit above about Springfield is:

Promoted by Luke Akehurst of Flat 1, 8 Beatty Road, London, N16 8EB on behalf of Mohamed Munaf Zina of 91 Kyverdale Road, London, N16 6PP. Hosted (printed) by Blogger.com (Google Inc) of 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043 who are not responsible for any of the contents of this post.


Blogger Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Is it true that two Galloway-Respect councillors in Newham have defected (returned?) to Labour?

8:14 pm, December 01, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monty Goldman rules!!!

Everything about his candidacy is priceless.

If Hackney Labour had a sense of humour they'd appreciate their majority and do their best to get him elected.

9:20 pm, December 01, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

Basically, you are way out of touch if you don't realise how sleazy this has made Labour appear.

And if you are serious about retaining the union link, then the only way to do it is within the context of wider reform. The Tories will not hesitate to enforce a breaking of that link.

What needs to happen is an overall reduction of expenditure. I am not particularly bothered about where money comes from as long as it is transparent. But its the actual amount of money now 'required' which has led all parties to scout around for money. Problem is, that there are more rich individuals who will shell out for the Tories than for us. That's one good reason why Labour should keep the union link. However, union donations have not been enough to keep up with the ever-climbing demands of electioneering. hence, Labour have ended up in the current mess.

If the amount of money overall was reduced, then Labour would have no need to get into these situations, and if local donations such as the Ashcroft money were included, then the Tories would lose that loophole.

All we need is a level playing field. Keeping spending so high helps only the Tories.

11:00 pm, December 01, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

PS. I think I agree about individual donations - its total spending which needs to fall.

11:01 pm, December 01, 2007

Anonymous dalston dan said...

I agree with Merseyside Mike - total spending needs to fall for all parties. Sadly, the Labour Party is (like Hackney Council) now run by a bunch of P.R. people who would sooner cut their mother's throat than see a reduction in "meedja" spending - and a subsequent erosion of their power base.

Total spending needs to fall - to benefit democracy - but sadly it won't, it will rise - and democracy will thus suffer.

6:39 am, December 02, 2007

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

Although I disagree with you on some points, I'm glad to hear your point about people using this to further the argument of breaking the union link. Perhaps a bit of a 'popular front' could be forged on this specific issue?

10:44 am, December 02, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

One side-issue around all this that hasn't been discussed much is what Abrahams's donations were funding? Harman's deputy leadership campaign, Benn's, Brown's leadership non-campaign. How much money is actually NEEDED for these internal campaigns? It seems a gargantuan waste of donors' money.

And, like Luke and Dunc, I DO worry that this is going to be used to attack the union link (including from some idiots on the right of our party), and I'd echo Dunc's call for some sort of 'popular front' on this particular point - even if we'd inevitably disagree about policies that should be taken up within that link

1:09 pm, December 02, 2007

Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

So let me get this right - you believe that people should be able to give as much money as they like, but there should be limits on spending in seats between elections?

Aren't you basically saying that Labour should be allowed to do what it likes, but the Tories shouldn't?

You are such a hypocrite.

6:29 pm, December 02, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Not a hypocrite, just partisan. Obviously I want a system that stops the Tories getting an in-built advantage because they happen to represent the interests of big business.

6:48 pm, December 02, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

And I would agree with that.

But given the Tories easy access to those resources, and that you don't want to see lower expenditure limits, are you saying that state funding is the answer?

12:06 am, December 03, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I do want to see lower expenditure limits in each constituency between elections where there is no legal limit at all. I would also be happy to see national campaign expenditure limited to say £15m instead of the current £20m. However I think the constituency limits for general and by-elections and the ward limits for local elections for the actual month of the campaign are about right or perhaps a bit on the low side.

8:06 am, December 03, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

So, given the clear difficulty for Labour in raising those sums legitimately within the tighter rules we have now - should we have state funding?

10:41 am, December 03, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke said: "Not a hypocrite, just partisan. Obviously I want a system that stops the Tories getting an in-built advantage because they happen to represent the interests of big business."

Luke: in your day job, you represent the interests of the arms trade. Is not that big business? Seems you're propping up the Tory donors even without having a leg to stand on. Well done, Luke --that's a first.

11:33 pm, December 03, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Actually none of the defence industry companies I have advised in my day job makes political donations to any party or candidate.

2:19 pm, December 04, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I should add ... in the UK. Some of the American ones I used to work for donate to both Republicans and Democrats but I think they are banned by US (and UK?) legislation from donating here.

2:52 pm, December 04, 2007

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