Party funding - the new battleground

Cash for honours, secret loans, dinners for donors... the list of scandals surrounding the funding of political parties is very long. So too the proposals to clean it up.

Today on the-day-after-the-speech-before Ed Miliband used Prime Minister's Questions to re-open the argument. He proposed, again, a cap on individual donations of £5,000. David Cameron replied that the problem with setting a cap that low was it would require a "massive amount of taxpayer support".

In November 2011 the Committee of Standards in Public Life, chaired at the time by Sir Christopher Kelly, proposed a cap on individual donations of £10,000 but added that it would not be possible to exempt union donations so long as people were automatically affiliated to Labour without individuals having made a positive choice.

The Labour leader's decision to introduce 'opting in' could, in theory, unlock agreement.

There's just one problem. The Kelly Report proposed that taxpayers should subsidise political parties for each vote they got. That's why the prime minister was able to say that the price of a Labour scandal should not be taxpayer funding.

Instead of reform then, we are likely to see a repeat of the sound and fury at today's PMQs - with Labour attacking Tory donations from the rich and privileged whilst the Tories attack the unions.

Meantime voters may switch channels.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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