Were you listening to Radio 4 around 6.52 this morning? If you did you will have heard an article that was ostensibly about the honours-for-cash storm-in-a-teacup that some sections of the media have tried to make into a big issue. The person being interviewed was the Chairman of the Committee for Standards in Public Life, Sir Christopher Kelly. Exactly the person you would want to be interviewed if you felt that political donations were resulting in honours being awarded. However, driven by interviewer James Naughtie, this quickly turned into a platform for Sir Kelly to push the committee’s proposals for public funding*.
Now, I don’t care for honours, after all, why should I be impressed that Dr Michael Leigh, for example, received the KCMG when it was apparently awarded to him just because he did his job? That people get honours for donating large sums of money to political parties should hardly come as a surprise to anyone and anybody that cares about it must be one of those already in the Westminster bubble. I do, however, get enormously exercised when anyone starts suggesting that my tax money should support political parties. Quite apart from the fact that my money will be going to support parties that I don’t support (all of them as it happens) the system ensures that no new party can compete. It obstructs the natural growth of new parties. It should be opposed at all costs.
Given the choice between a perceived abuse of the honours system and pblic funding of political parties, I would choose the former every time.