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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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The Cost of Democracy: Party Funding in Modern British Politics

ISBN13: 9781841137162
Published: March 2007
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £40.00

Despatched in 11 to 13 days.

Party funding has given rise to great controversy since 1997, and continues to do so. In recent years, scandal has followed scandal - from million pound donations, to the so-called 'loans for peerages' affair. The question is now the subject of official investigation by Sir Hayden Phillips, whose blueprint for reform is expected at the end of 2006. This book charts the evolution of the party funding problem in recent years and explores the weaknesses of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 which was enacted in a vain attempt to clean up British politics.

The book sets out a number of core principles which should inform the development of public policy in this field, and examines the different strategies for the implementation of these principles. Having regard to the experience of other countries, including Canada, Germany and Sweden, a radical framework of reform is proposed, designed to address the emerging crisis of party government - with serious implications for democracy itself. The main concern is with the development of bold reform initiatives to encourage political parties to recruit and retain members, and give members rights in relation to the government and administration of these parties.

This thoughtful yet hard hitting account by one of the leading scholars in the field will be of interest to constitutional lawyers and political scientists, as well as journalists and those with an interest in the way we are governed.

Constitutional and Administrative Law
1. A Drama Unfolds
The Conservative Funding Legacy
The 'Arms Race'
The Labour Party's Response
Questions for the Labour Party
The Ecclestone Affair
The Neill Committee
2. Regulatory Objectives
The Prevention of Corruption and Conflicts of Interest
Equality of Opportunity and Fair Competition for Political Office
A Need to Ensure that Political Parties are Adequately Funded
Promoting Citizen Participation in the Funding of Political Parties
Respect for the Nature and Diversity of Party Structure
The Protection of Human Rights
3. Regulatory Methods
Transparency and Disclosure
Contribution Controls
Spending Controls
State Aid and Public Funding
Self-Regulation or State Regulation?
Supervision and Enforcement
4. Party Autonomy and Public Accountability
Diversity of Party Structure
The Principle of Party Autonomy
Autonomy of Party Organisation: The Role of Legislation
Autonomy and Legality
From Autonomy to Accountability: Registration and Party Identity
State Supervision: Registration and Financial Accountability
5. Donations to Political Parties: The Regulatory Framework
Disclosure and Corruption
Who May Donate to Political Parties?
The Mechanics of Reporting and Disclosure
Who Does Donate to Political Parties?
The Problem of Avoidance
Loopholes in the Regulatory Framework
6. From 'Sleaze' to 'High-Value Donors' to Loans
'Sleaze': The Continuing Problem of Political Donations
The Labour Party's Response
'High-Value Donors': The Labour Party
'High-Value Donors': The Conservative Party
The Loans Affair: A New Problem Erupts
Implications and Consequences of the Loans Affair
7. Spending Limits in Election Campaigns
Regulatory Challenges
The Victorian Legacy: Candidate Limits
The Problem of Third Parties
Spending Limits on Political Parties
Calculating and Enforcing the Limit
Spending Limits and Third Parties
Spending Limits in Practice - The First Cycle
The General Election 2005
8. The Role of the State: Supporting Candidates and Political Parties
Regulatory Challenges
Responsibility of the State
Meeting the State's Responsibility
Party Political Broadcasts: Transferring the State's Obligations
New Forms of State Support
Proposals for Additional State Support
Reluctance and Resistance to Change
Tax Relief - A False Trail
9. Lessons from Canada
Political Parties in Canada
The Election Expenses Act 1974
The Parties and their Funds
Bill C-24, Political Donations and State Funding
The Impact of Bill C-24
Bill C-24 and Party Structure
10. Building on PPERA
The Next Step - Regulatory Objectives
The Problems with Contribution Limits
Donations - Let the Members Decide
A Focus on Spending
State Aid: Building on the British Model?
Making a Fresh Start - Back to Houghton
Qualifying Conditions for State Support
Promoting Democracy: A Quid Pro Quo
Appendix 1: Exchange of Letters between the Labour Party and Sir Patrick Neill QC
Appendix 2: Annual Accounts of the Political Parties
Appendix 3: The Structure of the Labour Party
Appendix 4: From Election Funding to Political Funding in Germany
Appendix 5: State Funding in Sweden - Party Autonomy and Public Funding