Source AP ©

Attempts to change money raising ways of British political parties fail

All the efforts to change the way British political parties raise money have broken down.

Negotiations between Britain's ruling Labour Party, the opposition Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats over how best to reform party funding were suspended after they failed to come to an agreement, according to the chairman of the talks, Sir Haydn Phillips.

Labour blamed Conservatives for the deadlock, saying the Tory leader David Cameron had been unwilling to negotiate. The Tories said Labour was too beholden to big donors to accept a cap on donations.

The effort to reform party financing follows a damaging investigation into whether associates of former Prime Minister Tony Blair's government offered honors such as knighthoods and seats in Britain's House of Lords in return for loans to the Labour Party.

No charges were ever filed, but the investigation into what was dubbed the "cash for honors" scandal clouded Blair's last year in office and raised questions about the way in which politicians of all stripes financed their activities.

The Liberal Democrats' chief negotiator, David Heath, called the failure of the talks depressing.

"It is in the interests of good politics in this country that we find a way to reverse the arms race in party spending and curb the flagrant abuses in the current system," Heath said. "Following the loans for peerages scandals that is clearly what the public expected us to do."

Phillips said he hoped that the talks could be picked up again at some later point.

"I remain convinced that an agreement to reform party funding would be in the general public interest, and I hope that all possible efforts will be made to achieve some consensus on a comprehensive package of reform," he said.

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