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12:54pm on Saturday, 10th May, 2014:
If Britain doesn't want to go the same way as the USA and have its politicians in the pockets of single rich individuals or organised groups of poor individuals, it'll have to switch to a model in which political parties are funded from the public purse. However, that means there has to be some way to apportion any such pot of money fairly.
The most obvious method is to go with the number of seats a party has in government. This has several problems, though: the number of seats doesn't reflect the number of votes; if you're a new party, you don't have any seats so don't get any money; it's determined once every 5 years, during which time the landscape could have changed; it's a positive feedback loop, in that the more seats you get this time round the greater your chance of winning seats next time round.
The first problem can be fixed by going with the number of votes rather than the number of seats, but even that doesn't necessarily reflect the mood of the general public. For example, you can bet that in marginal constituencies for the next election the Conservatives will be saying "a vote for UKIP is a vote for Labour" and Labour will be saying "a vote for UKIP is a vote for the Conservatives" (actually, they'll probably say "the Tories" as that's what Labour party spods seem to have decreed has the more negative connotation among the faithful). Going with the number of votes doesn't fix the other problems, either.
Solution: award parties funds based on how well they do in local elections, not national ones. Take the number of votes (or the number of seats won, if you want to eliminate most of the non-serious parties) and apportion the party funding pot accordingly. This will reflect much better people's actual political opinions, and new parties can get a foothold because it doesn't actually cost a ruinous amount to win a seat from scratch in a local election. Local elections are staggered, rather than being all at the same time, so you get a regularly updated view of how public opinion is moving; it's not such a positive feedback loop (although it still has an element of this) because the big cost to parties is competing for the general election, so that's where most of the money from their share of the pot will go.
It's probably a better idea than having an opinion poll decide who gets what, anyway...
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