If I gave a politician € 1,000 towards his election campaign and subsequently needed a political favour, I’d be a teeny weeny bit put out, to say the least, if my politician friend didn’t do the business for me. I wouldn’t expect him to sin his soul or break the law on my behalf, and I’d prefer not to know if he had to stretch his conscience or even bend the law to get my favour for me, but if he turned round and said ‘I’m sorry I cannot help you,’ I’d be unlikely to give him another € 1,000 at the next election. In fact I’d consider him a shyster and certainly wouldn’t vote for him again.
Let me hasten to add that I have never given a political donation to anyone in my life. I need every penny that comes my way to keep body and soul together, and even if I had loads of spare cash I wouldn’t make political donations.
This is all by way of a prelude to asking you whether you think that this is another situation in which politicians think the rest of us are fools. How in the name of all that’s wonderful can politicians expect us to believe that when they receive a big donation from a businessman that it is no more than an earnest of that businessman’s commitment to the democratic process. Can you imagine the politician going home for his tea and saying to his wife:
‘I got a big cheque from my managing director friend Paddy Murphy to-day as a token of his commitment to democracy.’ Depending on what frame of mind she was in at the time, his wife would sit him down, feel his forehead and take his pulse, or else she’d hit him a belt of the frying pan for treating her like an imbecile.
Now I’m not suggesting that every donor has a particular favour in mind when he gives money to a politician. That would be bribery and as we know in Holy Christian Ireland a businessman, Protestant or Catholic would not do that, on moral, not to mention legal grounds! It is probable that political donations from businessmen are entered in their books under the heading of insurance premiums or some such. They may not have anything in mind when making their ‘financial contribution to the democratic process,’ but should such a need arise in the future they’re covered. There’s nothing like being owed one by people who have the power or influence. To suggest that some benefit might accrue from a political donation or to think it was a bribe would shock your average Irish businessman, - ‘God bless us and save us / said poor Mrs Davis / I never thought herrins was fish.’
I can understand why politicians are not well disposed to suggestions that a National fund be established to which conscientious businessmen could make their financial contributions to support the democratic process and from which all political parties would receive grants. Since the suggestion of bribery would be removed, so many businessmen committed to the democratic process would want to contribute, that there would be more money in the fund than politicians needed. This would inevitably lead to unseemly rows about how to dispose of the surplus, and government and civil service would want to avoid unseemly rows of this kind at all costs.