Parties heed (with caution): Public knowledge of and attitudes towards party finance in Britain

  • vanHeerde-Hudson J
  • Fisher J
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Abstract

Despite comprehensive reform (PPERA 2000) and recent review of (Phillips Review 2007) of party finance in Britain, public opinion of party finance remains plagued by perceptions of corruption, undue influence from wealthy donors, carefree and wasteful spending, and more generally--from the perception that there is just ‘too much money’ in politics. In this article we argue that knowledge of and attitudes towards party finance matter, not least of all because advocates of reform have cited public opinion as evidence for reform. However, because attitudes towards party finance are part of a broader attitudinal structure, opinion-led reforms are unlikely to succeed in increasing public confidence. Using data generated from YouGov’s online panel (N=2,008), we demonstrate that the public know little of the key provisions regulating party finance and, attitudes towards party finance can be explained along two underlying dimensions, Anti-Party Finance and Reformers. As such, we consider whether parties and politicians should be freed from the constraints of public opinion in reforming party finance.

Author-supplied keywords

  • donations and expenditure
  • party finance
  • political parties
  • public attitudes
  • reform

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Authors

  • Jennifer vanHeerde-Hudson

  • Justin Fisher

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