big money in politics

Three in four think political parties can be bought, new poll shows

5th March 2014
5 Mar 2014
big money in politics
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Three in four think political parties can be bought, new poll shows

Three-quarters (75%) of the public believe big money has too much influence on political parties, according to new research by the Electoral Reform Society.

The ERS’s research shows strong public support for reforming party funding. The survey of 1,402 respondents, conducted between 24 and 27 February by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, also found that:
65% believe party donors can effectively buy knighthoods and other honours

  • 61% believe the system of party funding is corrupt and should be changed
  • 67% believe no one should be able to give more than £5,000 to a political party in any year

Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“The public can’t stand the way big money appears to buy influence in our democracy. People are turning away from parties and politics at an alarming rate, and while the main parties remain utterly reliant on such a small number of donors there will always be the perception that something fishy is going on.
“It’s time to banish big money from our politics once and for all. All the parties need to commit to capping the amount that individuals can donate, so that our politicians cannot be accused of selling influence to the highest bidder.”

Commenting on the results of the poll, Darren Hughes said:

“We already know that membership of political parties is plummeting [1], that fewer and fewer people are satisfied with our democracy [2] and that voter turnout – especially in local elections – is hitting new lows. Part of the reason for this spiral of discontent is the suspicion that our political system can be bought.

“When three-quarters of the public think big donors have too much influence on political parties, it’s time to act. When two-thirds believe it’s possible simply to buy knighthoods, you know something has to be done. We need a cleaner and more transparent party funding system that does not rely on a handful of sources of wealth. We want to see all the parties make a renewed commitment to party funding reform, before the public turn away from party politics for good.”

The survey also found that 41% agree a state-funded political system would be fairer than the one we currently have, compared to just 18% who disagree.



These findings present an opportunity for Labour to make the case for party funding reform, after their special conference changed the funding landscape. The reforms enacted on Saturday will mean Labour bringing in less money from large donations, creating a financial incentive for the party to seek to level the playing field by capping the maximum amount that can be donated from an individual source.

1. For statistics on party membership falling, see

2. For statistics on declining trust in politics, see