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Friday, May 29, 2015

Stacking the odds in the Tories' favour

For those who observed the deluge of paid for delivery literature from the Conservative Party which poured through letterboxes in their target seats, months before the General Election even got off the ground, it was little surprise that David Cameron's party did so well.

Speculation as to how much this ground war offensive cost can now be answered as new figures from the Electoral Commission reveal that the Conservatives banked more money from donations than all the other political parties put together during that period.

The Independent reports that the Tories were given £15.4m of the £30.6m received by all of the parties in the first three months of this year compared with £9.33m collected by Labour and £3m given to the Liberal Democrats. The Scottish National Party was given £1.05m and Ukip just under £1m.

The Prime Minister obviously believes that when he has an advantage he should drive it home with as much force as he can muster, otherwise why would he be introducing changes to trade union funding that will see Labour lose several million pounds a year?

As the paper says, this new legislation will require union members to “opt in” to its political fund rather than the current system of automatic enrolment unless they explicitly opt out. As Labour receives a significant proportion of its income from political funds then it is likely that this could cost the party heavily. Nearly two-thirds of Labour’s donations in the first quarter of 2015 came from unions, including £3.5m from Unite, £700,000 from the GMB and £570,000 from Unison.

The report adds that the £30.6m donated to Britain’s political parties over three months is the highest total on record, and is more than 50 per cent higher than the amount handed over in the equivalent period ahead of the 2010 election campaign.

It is little wonder that the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society wants to see urgent political reform of the party funding system. She told the Independent: “We can’t continue to have a race to spend the most, with parties increasingly relying on a small number of powerful wealthy backers – whether that’s big organisations or rich individuals.”

I think she is right.
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