Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Party Funding is Important

The FT is reporting that the (fairly) incumbent Government Tory party has received funding to the tune of £11.4 million (or about 50% of its funding) in the first 9 months of 2010 from the big Financial institutions of the ‘City’ of London. The City being the bit with banks and lawyers and various other nefarious outfits shunned by the uppity general public.

Now it is quite easy to shrug your shoulders and say “so what, better they get cash from anywhere that isn’t the public purse” but there is some danger of a Party being bought by a section of the Economy.

Take the last government. For an example of how easy it is to buy a government one need only consider the long running legal battle in the case of Barker v Corus. You may recall some time ago that Corus was actually the nationalised “British Steel” thus HMG bankrolled in the case.

The Claimant(s) had contracted Mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos while employed. To complicate matter Mesothelioma takes 25-50 years to manifest so it was impossible when dealing with various heavy industrial workers who would have moved around a clutch of employers as long ago as the 1950s to point to a single employer who caused (or allowed) the injury to arise. Thus in previous cases the principle established was one of joint and several liability, essentially that the injured worked could whoever he could find that he had worked for.

The Barker was bitter fought to the House of Lords by HMG (spending something in the region £3 million to make sure dock workers died horribly and penniless) and reversed this joint and several approach to bring in a new concept of proportionate liability thus saving British Steel, various insurance companies, the Government, Local Authorities and the like a fair old whack.

Having thus fought the matter to the conclusion it wanted the Government, made of the Labour Party promptly found its main source of funds to be, entirely predictably, furious and so, having pissed £3 million up the wall to change the law promptly brought in the Compensation Act 2006 to reverse the decision back to the pre Barker position.

The Democratically elected UK Government changed its mind because the Party in power’s bankroller rattled the purse strings. So yes, no danger of the same happening with the Tories, what was that about curbing bonuses?

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