Our friends at the First Post need to get a new "Westminster insider", who seems to believe that Lord Ashcroft is actually Lord Ashdown. However, let's move on to the substance of their story, which is that with the party funding talks having broken down, Gordon Brown will now move to restrict the ability of parties to spend money in target seats between elections. They reckon he will introduce a short Bill, no doubt called the "How to stuff the Tories (Amendment) Bill.
Let us remember though, how we got here. The only reason the talks over party funding broke down was because the Labour Party refused to agree that the Trade Unions should, like individuals and businesses, be subject to the same £50,000 donation limit. It really is quite that simple. Jack Straw has bleated this evening:
We greatly regret that these talks have been suspended as a result of the
Conservative Party's unwillingness to negotiate on a draft agreement. We had
understood that all parties had thought in good faith that this draft agreement
was the basis of a comprehensive settlement. We will now take time to reflect on
The Conservative Party rightly said that unless the government was willing to discuss trade union donations there would be no point in discussing anything further. Francis Maude said:
We are disappointed that the trade unions still hold Labour over a barrel. The
unions are running the Labour party from the back seat, giving them control over
Government policy. Labour has rejected a comprehensive cap on donations and
clearly do not want to end the big donor culture which has caused the 'cash for
honours' scandal. Labour just want a backroom deal that gives them taxpayers'
cash without proper reform. This would do nothing to restore public trust in our
Quite. I am an opponent of any further expansion of taxpayer funding for political parties. Politicians should get the message that the public just will not put up with them sticking their mits further into our pockets.