Donors to political parties

March 30, 2012, 4:18 PM GMT+0

70% say donors have too much influence; 29% think there's nothing wrong with private meetings

There is a fairly strong consensus among members of the public that people or organisations who donate money to political parties have too much influence over policies. Over half think it is wrong for MPs to give special access to people who give big donations, our poll shows.

  • 70% say people and organisations who give money to political parties have too much influence over policy, 10% say they do not
  • 60% say it is wrong for senior MPs and ministers to give special access to people who have given big donations to their party
  • 29% say as long as they do not receive any special favours, there is nothing wrong with senior MPs and ministers meeting people who give money to their party

Political parties are currently mainly funded by donations from their members, individual supporters, companies and trade unions.

The alternative funding by donors would be that money collected from tax payers would then be used to find political parties. However, the majority (59%) oppose political parties being funded by the taxpayer rather than from donations, while 1 in 5 (20%) support this alternative.

Limits to donations

Some feel that in order to decrease the amount of influence donors potentially have on political parties, a limit should be put on how much can be donated each year. The most popular limit for all donation sources is no more than £10, 000.

  • No more than £200 - Individuals 10%, businesses and companies 8%, trade unions 12%
  • No more than £1, 000 - Individuals 13%, businesses and companies 7%, trade unions 8%
  • No more than £10, 000 – Individuals, 13%, businesses and companies 16%, trade unions 15%
  • No more than £50, 000 – Individuals 4%, businesses and companies 11%, trade unions 10%
  • No more than £100, 000 - Individuals 4%, businesses and companies 11%, trade unions 10%
  • More than £100, 000 - Individuals 1%, businesses and companies 4%, trade unions 4%

Around a third (34%), feel that individual members of the public should be able to give as much as they want to political parties, while just under a quarter (23%) say there should be no limit to the amount donated by businesses, while 21% say the same of trade unions.

The controversy surrounding donors followed the resignation of Peter Cruddas as Conservative co-treasurer, after footage was recorded of Cruddas offering access to the prime minister and chancellor for up to £250,000. Further investigation has revealed that David Cameron has been hosting private engagements for Conservative party donors, many of whom have admitted that information on political policy had been revealed to them.

The independent reported that Cruddas "would not have said what he said to the undercover reporters unless there is a culture within the party, and our politics more generally, of shady deals, corporate purchase of influence, and cash for access to Cameron and Osborne, and corruption generally."

The Telegraph however believes the situation is more 'hum drum,' stating that the PM merely confused business with pleasure, but not for any price.

Paul Goodman writes: "[David Cameron] isn’t dodgy – not remotely… Politicians have a privileged life compared to most of their constituents. But in one respect they are at a disadvantage: they are never off-duty. Their private lives dissolve into their public one…. he became incapable of seeing the difference between the state’s property and his own. "

See the full survey details and results (pages 20-23)