By Stephen Pollard
June 20, 2007
There's an ad in the papers today - full page, indeed - by an organisation called enoughsenough.
It's a campaigning group with the slogan, 'Cut the cr£p out of politics - cap all donations to political parties'.
Now a full page ad in the national press doesn't come cheap. So one might reasonably ask from where - from whom, in fact - enoughsenough gets the money to pay for them. Who set the organisation up? Who runs it?
You might ask that, but you'll not get an answer. Have a look at their website. There's no hint of an answer to any of these questions. All it says is that the organisation is "funded through voluntary donations by its members". Well, that's no use. There is no party in the country which couldn't say that. No one is compelled to give money to parties - yet (although I'd be amazed if enoughsenough doesnt want to have tax funding of parties). And until the word 'exclusively' is added to the words "funded through voluntary donations by its members", they are meaningless. Labour could say the same thing and be wholly honest. The fact that it also gets corporate donations is not in conflict with that statement, without the addition of the word 'exclusively'. So it's perfectly possible that enoughsenough, too, is also getting large institutional donations.
We know who funds the parties. enoughsenough might not like the amounts they give, but above a certain level their identity must be revealed. We have absolutely no idea who funds or is behind enoughsenough. And that, on its own, renders anything it says not merely suspicious but, I would argue, intellectually dishonest.
It may be that their arguments are spot on, or that they are indeed worthy of consideration. But they should tell us who they are before they start lecturing the rest of us about how politics should be run.
(BTW, one of my first decisions when I took over a few months ago as President of the Brussels think tank, Centre for the New Europe, was to make total transparency of funding a core part of our modus operandi. I think if you've got nothing to hide, you shouldn't hide it. We're relaunching our websites in a few weeks and all that information will be up there.)