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Thursday, 19 February 2015

ERS: Clean up party funding 'another scandal is just around the corner'

A new report from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has been released this morning, entitled Deal or No Deal: How to put an end to party funding scandals. The new report shows scale of public anger over the way parties are funded; sets out three recommendations designed to clean up the system and warns that another scandal is just around the corner unless urgent action is taken. The recent spate of party donor scandals has led to renewed calls for reform of the party funding system.

The report highlights 2014 ERS polling which shows that:

  • 75% believe big donors have too much influence on our political parties
  • 65% believe party donors can effectively buy knighthoods and other honours
  • 61% believe the system of party funding is corrupt and should be changed

The report goes on to propose three solutions, all of which have been recommended by previous committees looking into party funding and have been shown by ERS polling and focus group research to command support from the public. These are:

  • A cap on the amount that anyone can donate to a party, to end the big-donor culture that has led to scandal after scandal
  • An increased element of public funding for parties, to bring the UK into line with other advanced democracies
  • A cap on the amount that parties are allowed to spend, to end the arms race between parties at election time

Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said: "The public are sick to death of party funding scandals, and the latest revelations have simply added more fuel to the fire. “Whatever the outcome in May, the next government has to get to grips with the way parties are funded. The litany of suspect deals and shady funding practices revealed over the past few years shows that unless serious action is taken, the next scandal will be just around the corner."

Mr Hughes continued: “There is huge public support for doing what it takes to get big money out of politics, so whichever party takes a lead on this could stand to benefit at the polls.”“The UK is way behind the rest of Europe on this, spending just a tenth of the European average on supporting parties and doing far less than most countries when it comes to limiting the influence of wealthy donors."

“It’s time we caught up with the modern world and cleaned up party funding once and for all."  Darren Hughes added.