The Politics Of Money
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
Since this is Big Think's ‘Month of Thinking Dangerously’, here are my three pennies worth. In politics it has almost been impossible to think dangerously on either side of the Atlantic for nearly two decades, unless of course you are Sarah Palin or signed up to one her Tea Parties.
My shopping list would include a whole series of unmentionables, and would include, ending the war in Afghanistan, scrapping the new generation of nuclear missiles, re-distributing wealth through the tax and benefits system, and creating a new Peoples’ Savings Bank. Since these modest prescriptions would probably enjoy popular support, I will add another; reforming party political finance.
It is indisputably the case that big money buys political influence. It is also the case that much of this money is wasted by putative politicians, and the pay back costs to the wealthy individuals or big corporations are often unacceptable, even when they are opaque. Big money has ruled the roost in the United States for a long time, and any efforts to tackle its pernicious influence are frequently re-buffed.
Here in Britain, we currently have a contest between five individuals, including two brothers, who wish to be elected as the next leader of the Labour Party, de facto becoming Leader of the Opposition. Since the Labour Party, barely three months after losing a General Election so badly that many predicted it could go the way of the Dodo, now commands 38% in the latest polls to the Coalition Government’s 48%, being Leader of the Opposition is not to be sniffed at.
The left wing candidate, Diane Abbott has managed to raise £1,700 for her campaign, as against the current favourite David Miliband, who has received donations well in excess of £200,000. Most of these donations appear to have come from the same wealthy individuals who backed Tony Blair for leader back in the early 1990s. Of course Miliband’s war chest is fairly small beer in comparison with that raised by US Presidential candidates, but it is more than enough to deliver him a well oiled campaign machine.
When I was a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, I argued for a cap on donations, and also for the source of them to be made public. Large donations now must be declared, but I see no evidence of a cap being imposed on spending. It all leaves David Miliband having an unfair advantage.
Isn’t it about time that party political campaigns were capped and regulated by law if need be? If they were, those same politicians would have to raise money the old fashioned way, by asking for small donations from ordinary members or registered supporters. That might be enough to persuade them that they need more of those members in the first place.
Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.
- Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
- The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
- One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
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