In their haste to achieve the moral cleanliness of a new-born Labrador puppy it might be prudent for the Labour party to keep in mind the fact that the National Party, engorged to a caucus of sixty by its third strait election victory, is the prime user of secret trusts.
Keeping confidential he identity of political donors is vital to the success of a party, just look at what Owen Glenn did to Clark’s Labour, what Kim Dotcom did to Mana, and John Banks.
Banning secret trusts sounds high minded, but it is also extremely stupid. Financial irregularities are the most forgivable sins a politician can make. Just think back to John Key mistakenly declaring that he held fifty thousand shares in Tranz Rail, only to subsequently recall that his portfolio included a hundred thousand shares. The 2008 brain fades did nothing to hinder National’s momentum a month and a half out from the 2008 election.
Secondly, political parties need money to function. It is a regrettably vital part of the system. Many potential donors are scared off if they can’t be assured anonymity, and given the media’s bullish reputation that is enough to starve the political system of capitol. The only way it would work is if the Labour party banned secret trusts across the board, but mins the constitutional questions this could raise, they first need to be in government.
Admittedly the party is only going so far as to ban secret trusts in the impending leadership race, as a way to head off a repeat of the spittle and bile over David Cunliffe’s use of a secret trust in his leadership campaign last year. Perhaps this is a bid to prevent non-labour members from playing a House of Cards inspired game of stacking a particular deck. The outcome of having no money is clear though, you lose. What Cunliffe tried to do in the general election campaign was to rely on small donations from the party membership. This strategy worked spectacularly for Barrack Obama who was able to outspend John McCain, and Mitt Romney two to one. But in a nation of less than five million people the strategy just doesn’t cut it.
They will never be back in government unless they stop acting idealistically and start acting pragmatically. We have been waiting too damn long for sense to prevail.