Friday, December 07, 2007

The best leaders money can buy?

Back in the 19th century,before most people had a vote, the Chartists and other radicals came up with the idea that not only should there be no property qualification for enjoying suffrage, but that those we elect to represent us should be paid a salary.

It was not that they thought MPs should be able to enrich themselves, or motivated by high earnings, but rather that a person should be able to stand for election without needing an independent fortune, or being dependent on anyone's patronage.

Another aspect of our system of democracy has been the limits on electoral expenditure, so that theoretically a candidate with access to wealth should not have advantage in campaigning or, dare we mention, be able to engage in "treating" - that is buying people's votes.

Of course there are frequently questions of whether support for a particular party or candidate from outside - say a paper or an organisation -might be counted as their expenditure.

Then there are the measures that the Labour government has taken to curb finance from outside the country and scrutinise party funding - the measures which the Labour Party itself has now fallen foul of.

But a curious aspect of the current row is that large sums of money have apparently been paid, or borrowed, not for Labour Party general election expenses but for candidates standing for office within the Labour Party. Not only did North East businessman David Abrahams help Harriet Harman's campaign for deputy leadership, but it was reported yesterday that a man called Paul Myners paid £12,7000 for Gordon Brown's election expenses as leader.

Myners now has a government job, earning £150,000 a year for a two-day week advising us all to save for our retirement.
The Tories are upset with him because he attacked them during a BBC Question Time programme, calling David Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne the "arrogant, superior young toffs who now lead the Conservative Party, neither of whom have done a serious day's work in their lives."

Which I would say is fair comment,though there are probably still enough lickspittles and crawlers in this country to see that being arrogant toffs who have never done anything useful is no barrier to being elected.

What interests me though is why Gordon Brown needed that money for his election. After all a majority of Labour MPs assisted I'm sorry to say by our union leaders had made sure there was only one name on the ballot paper for leader. I'm not even sure why the deputy leadership candidates needed funding , since we all knew who they were, and two were already in government. It makes you think.

Here's a little poem wot this inspired:

I know I'm getting past it, cos I'm now an OAP,
So if I'm slow on the uptake, you'll just have to bear with me.
I know that old Hyndman admitted taking Tory money,
Gerry Healy pursued sources who proved nasty, not just funny.
And I might as well remind you, before you take the piss,
Harold Wilson had connections to a bank that was, well, Swiss.
Hidden behind that puff of pipe smoke,
Was something his Gannex mac could not cloak.
But this time what I find odd,
(though you may say I'm a silly old sod),
Is, they didn't raise funds for a general election, or to bring out a paper,
Abrahams donated for Harriet's deputy leadership caper.
And though dockers and miners have all been let down,
Paul Myners has been raised up after helping Gordon Brown.
For £150 grand a year, working two days a week,
he tells us to save up, just for our old age.
I'm sure we all could, on that kind of wage.
But he gave £12,700 to Gordon, who I'd guess is a mate.
For an election campaign with just one candidate?

When do we get a re-run?

Guess I won't make Poet Laureate.

And next I shall be looking at some of the other parties, from the Tories to Respect...



At 6:49 PM, Blogger Madam Miaow said...

Literary lefties strike again.

Enjoyed the poem, Charlie.


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