Rumours that Lib Dems hope to continue receiving Short money
Strong rumours reach me that the Liberal Democrats are trying to keep receiving Short money. That's the taxpayers money which opposition parties - yes, OPPOSITION parties - get from the state to help balance the fact that the governing party has the distinct advantage of being in office, with special advisers, and so on. And now, of course, the Lib Dems are a governing party, so shouldn't be entitled to Short money.
Short money was introduced by the Labour Leader of the House Ted Short in the mid-1970s to help opposition parties operate properly. The money was worth £1.75 million to the Lib Dems last year. That compares with their total party budget of around £5 million. So the Liberal Democrats will be in big trouble without that funding.
The sums are calculated on a formula based on the number of seats obtained at the last election and the number of votes.
If the Lib Dems are indeed trying to keep up the Short payments it will look very odd in this era of 'new politics' and financial stringency.
Coming on top of the row over the proposed 55 per cent rule, the Lib Dems will inevitably be accused, having now obtained some power, of trying to rig the system in their own favour.
My efforts to get a response from the Liberal Democrats this afternoon have met with silence.
I know an email is circulating amongst senior Lib Dems with details of my enquiries. Perhaps one of them could get back to me.