This cut of 19% of Short money is politically inept, morally bankrupt, doomed to fail and makes the Tories look like vindictive bullies rigging the democratic process

2 Jan 2016 at 13:03

It is not often that I look at a government decision and roll my eyes heavenward in disbelief and horror at the sheer mind boggling stupidity of it. But the wheeze to cut the money given to opposition parties to fund their scrutiny of the executive by any amount, let alone 19%, is politically inept, morally bankrupt and doomed to fail. It makes the Tories look like vindictive bullies rigging the democratic system. And it is a gift that will keep on giving for Corbyn. Unless this cranky idea is buried in a lead lined coffin topped with six feet of reinforced concrete before the first PMQs of the season Cameron is going to have to defend the indefensible. And he will not like that one little bit. 2016 will be the most important year in generations for any PM and to gain the trust of the people over the EU referendum he has got to be seen playing with a straight bat. So, to pick a fight where one is unnecessary makes no political sense whatsoever.

To be honest I suspect that Cameron and Osborne hadn’t got a clue that this was buried in the fine print of the Autumn Statement until the press office was contacted and who responded with the default panic mode about ‘reducing the deficit and the cost of government’. What utter bollocks.

So what went wrong? There appears to be nobody at the Treasury with long term radar who can spot a potential fuck up flying towards them. This is potentially far worse than the pasty wars.

All parties who lose elections end up on the verge of bankruptcy. They’ve shelled out money they can’t afford on advertising, battle buses and telephone banks. The donors in an unseemly rout for gongs and influence plough their cash into what they think are more fertile fields. Can you imagine the outrage if Blair or Brown had cut the Short money? This was named after Ted Short, a rather dull and austere Leader of the House. Oh, now that may give us trail of gastropodian slime leading to a certain minister. Lumber forward Chris Grayling Leader of the House. He would have had to have been consulted on this as it is a matter that is directly in his fiefdom. But judgement, lightness of touch and an acute ear for danger are not words that come to mind with this vindictive, spiteful, political knuckle dragger. He would have though it was a brilliant idea to humiliate his opponents. And he knows that it would produce one of those guttural primal growls from the carpet munching wing of his party.

But let’s look at the political consequences. The total Short money is about £8million, which is probably less than the Foreign Office lunch bill. Labour would lose about a million and the DUP about £32k. For a small party that is serious. For a small party that by and large supports the government it is politically insane. And it’s not just the Short money that will be cut, the Policy Development Grant, which is a minuscule £2m is also going to be cut. And at a time when the number of SPADS is at an all time high.

The thinking wing of the Tory Party will hate this. There will be a rebellion. If I was in Parliament I would be raising merry hell.

This foolhardy, ill thought out, politically toxic nonsense should be strangled at birth. The British public who have penchant for fair play will not like this one little bit