Straw's plans for election funding would make it impossible for new candidates to compete in marginal seats
Having voted themselves a £10,000 per annum "communications allowance", (which in all probability will have been worth at least £40,000 to every Labour MP by the time of the next general election), our Labour government now proposes to deny candidates seeking to compete with incumbent MP's the right to privately fund their campaigns in advance of election time.
This change to campaign funding rules would mean incumbency becomes a massive advantage to this government with its outright majority - as they use public funds to advertise their case to constituents while denying opposition candidates the right to spend private funds to make their case for alternative policies. The current government can claim £3.51 million of public funding every year from the "communications allowance" they created and yet they now seek to deny candidates use of private funds whether they be of a lesser, similar or higher value than the amount spent from the public purse!
As a Westminster candidate fighting a government Minister in a Labour/Conservative marginal, I have not received any central funding to take on Mr Murphy, who sends unsolicited letters to constituents on a regular basis at our cost. I rely on good old-fashioned street canvassing, leaflet drops and support of local organisations to get my message out to the public and I will never misuse any expense allowance to distribute Party propaganda!
Of course, this is all a side show to detract from Labour's refusal to agree to a £50,000 cap on donations from any individuals, companies or Unions. David Cameron backs this proposal but Labour are refusing to go along with it because, with 92% of Labour's funds coming from Trade Unions, it would render the Labour Party bankrupt.
So, Mr Straw, if you are going to cap candidate campaign spending outwith election times then make it fair and let us spend the same as MP's before elections are called. I don't suppose you'll do this or cap the maximum donation amount!
Further analysis of this proposal can be found at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=A1YourView&xml=/opinion/2008/06/20/do2003.xml