How Much Does it Cost — and Who Pays For it?

  • Dick Leonard
  • Roger Mortimore


The cost of fighting elections, and the means by which the political parties raise money to pay for it, has become perhaps the most controversial aspect of Britain’s electoral arrangements over the last few years. In the mid-1990s a Committee on Standards in Public Life was set up, originally under the chairmanship of Lord Nolan and subsequently under Sir Patrick (now Lord) Neill, with a wide remit to examine all aspects of political life in which concerns were being raised (whether justified or not) of corruption, undue influence or abuse of office. One of the areas they investigated was the funding of political parties, and the recommendations in their report led to a considerable shake-up in the way British elections are run. The report was by far the most comprehensive investigation for many years into party financing and spending.2


Political Party Political Parti Public Money Conservative Party Campaign Spending 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    The Funding of Political Parties in the United Kingdom, Fifth Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Cm. 4057 (London: The Stationery Office, 1998). A comprehensive historical account is contained in British Political Finance 1830–1980 by Michael Pinto-Duschinsky (Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1981). On the case for public subsidies see the Houghton Report, Report of the Committee on Financial Aid to Political Parties (London: HMSO, Cmnd. 6601, 1976)Google Scholar
  2. and Paying for Party Politics: The Case for Public Subsidies by Dick Leonard (London: Political and Economic Planning, 1975). The Electoral Commission also launched an investigation into party funding in 2003, and its report when published (no likely date is known at the time of writing) will probably provide the most up-to-date discussion of all the relevant issues.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    David Butler and Richard Rose, The British General Election of 1959 (London: Macmillan, 1960), pp. 144–5.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Dick Leonard, Paying for Party Politics (London: Political and Economic Planning, 1975).Google Scholar
  5. See also Dick Leonard, ‘Contrasts in Selected Western Democracies: Germany, Sweden, Britain’, in Herbert E. Alexander (ed.), Political Finance (Beverly Hills and London: Sage Publications, 1979), pp. 41–73.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    For a thorough discussion of the issue, by an opponent of public funding, see Pinto-Duschinsky, British Political Finance 1830–1980. A less ambitious proposal for public funding was put forward by a committee set up by the Hansard Society, under the chairmanship of Edmund Dell — see Paying for Politics (London: Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government, 1981). A later Hansard Society inquiry, chaired by Christopher Chataway, split three ways on the issue — see Agenda for Change (London: Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government, 1991).Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Electoral Commission, Funding Democracy (Consultation Paper, September 2002).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dick Leonard and Roger Mortimore 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dick Leonard
  • Roger Mortimore

There are no affiliations available

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