Fiscal incentives

July 27, 2007

The question of funding of political parties raised in the review of The Cost of Democracy: Party Funding in Modern British Politics (Books, July 20) seems to ignore two key points. First, the parties need to offer policies that people want and are prepared to pay for. Second, politicians impose consumerist values on us, the prospective voters, but not on themselves.

That there is a precedent of part-payment by the state is no reason to extend the principle. Far from it. Abolishing free postage and broadcasts might sharpen politicians' minds wonderfully.

Furthermore, what do the parties want - or even need - the money for? Without clear and different policies, the party literature and advertising is generally of a poor standard; more would be worse.

Given that governments get elected to reclaim more than 70 per cent of our earnings - directly or indirectly - each year through taxation, their attitude to the people who pay could include making a good case for what they plan to do with all "our money".

I for one would happily pay directly to a political party with a clear and positive policy for the UK.

That about 40 per cent of the registered electorate does not even vote is a serious democratic deficit.

It is also a positive challenge to each of our present political parties. Perhaps MPs should have their incomes and pensions cut by that 40 per cent as a consumerist incentive?

John Preston
South Croydon

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