Electoral politics is hugely distorted by the fact that it designed to serve the interests of the political donors, hobbyists and cranks that have the time and energy to dominate the civic space. It doesn’t need to be this way.
Imagine membership of a political party (at a rate of £50 a year) was tax deductable (or claimable as a benefit by people who don’t pay tax), and that political donations were capped and taxed heavily?
In this way, membership of political parties would essentially be free of charge, and political donations would be reduced dramatically.
Politicians would be knocking on every door begging people to be members. We would have a very high level of party membership. Parties wouldn’t be dependent on donations (they probably wouldn’t even solicit them with any enthusiasm).
Parties wouldn’t be dominated by political donors, cranks and obsessives but by a broader more nuanced set of stakeholders with real material interests. The parties would be more responsive to serious concerns and less interested in performative posturing politics.
Win win win.
(This is a proposal that I made in my lunchtime talk, ‘Dark Money for All – A UBI for Democracy’, at the RSA yesterday (17th January 2020). The Illustration is the logo that is used for these talks.)