The scandal is at least 20 years old. The Conservative government under John Major was tarnished with sleaze, this trend continued under Blair's Labour government yet still the problem still persists today.
Membership to political parties has dramatically decreased over the past 30 years. This has had the effect of creating a deficit in party funding from the ordinary individual. This is something that everyone agrees is a big problem as it runs the risk of parties being unable to practice their democratic functions. The question is how to resolve this.
Personally I am very much against notions to make this the duty of the state to fund political parties.This is bad for very obvious reasons, namely that it forces the individual tax payer in to funding extremist and out of touch parties such as The BNP, The SDP and the SWP. Furthermore the system is democratically regressive as funding would likely be determined proportionately to how people vote. This in practice would be the state wielding an attack on small parties and thus entrench the status quo in our political system. Either way, the state has no business either lending support to, or obstruction to the interests of a political parties in this respect, as long as it is legal.
I am equally resistant to the idea of introducing a donation cap. This is very wrong, certainly when there is no plans to make up the cuts to the revenue of political parties with innovative alternatives to fund our parties. What this simply does is leave our political parties further deprived of financial resources which, without cannot carry out campaigns, research, and hold the government to account, among many other vital functions. This therefore would be the worst possible solution if it does indeed build momentum. We cannot afford a knee-jerk reaction that would prove detrimental to democracy.
What I suggest is far more sensible and it's two fold. Parties need to get away from dependence from generous and rich donors by reaching out to the public for increased party membership. For whatever reason this has morbidly declined and is bad for political citizenship and involvement. Political parties have to reignite interest in their activities by making ordinary people feel that their input makes a difference. There needs to be more effort to achieve this. It can be done at a local level with prominent members of political parties guest speaking at regular events. At the moment politicians only seem to come to the public when they want their vote. This simply isn't good enough. This whole problem is closely related to the loss of public faith in the political class. Politicians must do more to reclaim such credibility.
Of course this will still probably not provide enough financial clout to parties. Therefore at the other end it is important not to put off wealthy people from donating to political parties. Big donations do more good than they do harm as our political parties will be crippled without the support of these individuals.They are a necessary evil. It is vital that the government respond with much consideration and do not bow to populist demands that could profoundly harm our democracy