Saturday 4 December 2010

More on Equality

Just a few lines from Shirley Williams's highly readable autobiography, Climbing the Bookshelves

The historic evidence is clear deeply unequal societies are far less committed to democracy and the rule of law than fairer ones. The most stable and happy societies, according to much international research, have moderate differences in wealth and incomes both within and between the public and private sectors. They enjoy high standards of education; they support and admire public service; they understand that a good society requires as its foundation a sense of the common good. (Page 383, Virago paperback edition)

And to turn for a moment to another aspect of equality, a short paragraph in yesterdays paper informed us that during the election campaign the Tories spent £16.7m, Labour £8m and the Liberal Democrats £4.8m. (Guardian, 02/12/10, page 18). This is campaign expenditure only and does not take into account the cash poured into key marginals by Lord Ashcroft and others between elections

If the coalition is serious about fairness then the nettle of party funding and spending has to be grasped. Contributions from individuals and organisations need to be strictly limited, and public funding based on a system in which the parties have to make some effort to obtain their subsidy introduced. The scheme by which parliament decides the total for public funding for all parties, divides the sum by the number of the electorate, sends a voucher of that value to each elector and it is up to the parties to collect the vouchers and cash them in seems to me to be the fairest, and has the advantage of forcing the parties to keep in touch with the public. See earlier post for a fuller esplanation

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