This site is dedicated to debating the pros and cons of public funding of political parties in the UK.
Do you think that they should be publicly funded, or that private funds should be used?
However you look at it, and whether you believe in public funding or private / union funding of political parties, neither way is ideal.
In these days of cutbacks and measures to save money, often at the expense of everyday citizens, an increase in public funding of political parties would go down like a tonne of bricks. But what is the alternative? Political parties are regularly accused of being in the pockets of donors to the parties. Whether it is the Unions' funding of the labour party or the private and business funding of all of the political parties, all stand to be under great scrutiny on a daily basis.
And this is the cleft stick that the parties find themselves in. In order to survive, they need funds. Not many people could or would afford to be in politics if it was purely voluntary. Party elections need to be funded, parties need to have conferences and as anyone who runs a business will know, just costs of administration and paperwork can be crippling if you don't have the funds available.
So, what is the answer? Does anyone have a truly workable solution? How do you appease those who say that politics is too expensive and that any public funding of parties is not affordable, whilst addressing those who say that parties taking donations form unions or business or individuals with a vested interest are wrong, because it gives those individuals or organisations some sort of sway in policy decisions?
Do we have a fund that all parties can dip into? How would that work? Would it be available to all parties, including more politically extreme, or minor interest groups trying to gain a foothold in the political arena? Would an independent politician have access to these funds?
Must parties all have to raise money privately through fund raising, with strict limits on an individual donation? How is that practical? Many parties would just disappear, or be in the hands of the wealthy elite who could afford to play politics and run the country.
Or should we accept that donations are to be made and that as long as this is all documented and there is no gain by the donor in terms of influencing the decisions of government or affecting policy, then that is fine? But how would we deal with this?
Over the next few weeks and months we will build on these thoughts and hope to engender a real debate on the issue. Please bookmark this site and come back soon for our updates.