Who do they represent?
Should our politicians represent the interests of the people in their constituency or the big businesses that donate to party coffers?
First we had the revelation that top executives from HSBC had donated nearly £900,000 to the Tory party. Last week we discovered that PwC donated nearly £400,000 to Labour. These are very significant amounts of money. Yet both HSBC and PwC have been implicated in massive tax avoidance schemes. That’s scandalous. Every pound that we lose through tax avoidance and tax evasion costs our public services. This so-called tax gap was worth £34bn last year. Just imagine how many doctors and nurses that would pay for, or apprenticeships, or how much that would reduce the deficit.
So why is it that successive government’s seem to turn a blind eye to such schemes? It would be naïve to think that these companies donate such vast sums of money to the political parties and don’t expect anything in return. These donations buy influence.
When the Westminster Parties accept such massive financial contributions, they cede power away from ordinary citizens. When the parties accept these corporate donations they stop representing the people of the UK. You can see the influence of corporate backers and lobbyists across government policy-making: it is very revealing to see how many of the politicians who decide the fate of the NHS receive funds from private health care providers.
So what should we do about it? I think there should be a cap on political donations and I think finding out who has given money to MPs and political parties should be much easier to find out.
Of course the big party machines need feeding so they’ll keep seeking big money. It’s another reason that I’m standing as an Independent – I won’t be in debt to big business: I will only work for the people of Sheffield Hallam.