The elite are trying to hijack democracy
In a democracy, the size of your wallet shouldn’t decide your political influence. But every new election sees millionaires lining their preferred party’s pockets or trying to avoid the rules altogether.
What’s the problem?
If you ask a single parent on low pay if they have as much political power as a banker, we can all probably guess the answer.
By paying lobbyists to access ministers or lining the pockets of their favourite political party, those with the means can influence elections, and the people in power. The public understand this - polling shows people think politicians put donors and lobbyists before the public interest.
Big money distorts our politics by:
- Paying to bend the ear of influential politicians, often in secret via lobbyists. This gives people with the broadest wallets much more say in decisions than the rest of us, but right now we don’t even know who is meeting who.
- Lining the pockets of political parties. With no limit to individual donations, a handful of very wealthy people paying the bills could equal big influence over policy. Some donors even get to make our laws, with a House of Lords seat as thanks for their support.
- Finding loopholes in election spending. In 2015 the Conservatives were accused of overspending in marginal seats by exploiting legal loopholes. More recently, various groups who campaigned to the leave the EU are being investigated for breaking strict spending limits. When parties or campaigners find ways to spend more than the law allows, it makes a mockery of fair play in elections.
- Giving some MPs a second income. Many MPs have a job outside politics, and some earn more than their MP salary from outside work. This doesn’t just mean constituents aren’t getting the best representation. If your MP moonlights doing PR for an arms company, it might influence their opinions, and votes in Parliament.
We believe a people’s constitution can tackle unequal influence in society, and rebuild the public’s trust in politics.
Right now, we can follow the money flowing around the system. That means:
- Bringing lobbyists out of the shadows and forcing them to register, so we know who’s trying to bend the ear of politicians.
- Kicking big money out of politics, by restricting how much anyone can donate to political parties.
- Updating election law to regulate online campaigning, and giving the Electoral Commission proper powers to punish rule breakers.
Our campaign wins
- We helped push the Electoral Commission to investigate a 'dark money' trust in Scotland, working with journalists at The Ferret. We wrote to Westminster’s Commissioner for Standards, requesting an investigation after inconsistencies in Conservative MPs reporting of donations from the Scottish Unionist Association Trust.
- We saw off attempts to rig party funding in favour of the Conservatives. Changes to funding rules would have meant draconian a crackdown on trade union donations, with millionaires left free to carry on funding their favoured politicians.
- We won our campaign for tough new rules for lobbying in Scotland. It goes much further than Westminster’s bogus lobbying register. Virtually all lobbyists have to register, disclose who they are talking to and what about.
- We’ve convinced the Welsh Assembly to take a closer look at the country’s lobbying industry. We’ll keep pushing for the same regulations we won in Scotland.