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Money and electoral politicsLocal parties and funding at general elections$
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Ron Johnston and Charles Pattie

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447306320

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447306320.001.0001

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The financial health of local parties: the key to electoral success?

The financial health of local parties: the key to electoral success?

(p.85) Three The financial health of local parties: the key to electoral success?
Money and electoral politics

Ron Johnston

Charles Pattie

Policy Press

To sustain their campaign (and other) activities, especially in marginal seats, political parties must raise and spend money. But how well-resourced are local parties? New rules on financial disclosure for political parties allow insight into the financial health of the local party organisations which represent Britain’s main political parties in the constituencies. The picture which emerges suggests that, in many parts of the country, the major parties’ grassroots organisations are in a parlous state, surviving on very limited resources indeed. Under current legislation, local party organisations with annual turnovers in excess or £25,000 must make financial returns. Only the Conservatives’ grassroots were sufficiently healthy to put many local parties over this threshold: over half of local Conservative associations made returns in the year of the 2010 election, compared to around one-sixth of Labour and Liberal Democrat local parties. For all parties, local income and expenditure patterns were heavily skewed: most local parties raised and spent little, while only a very few had high turnovers. Much of the fund-raising effort was locally generated. The Conservatives and (to a lesser extent) Liberal Democrats were able to provide central support for particularly strategic local parties, but Labour was not.

Keywords:   Party finance, Income sources, Local expenditure, Grassroots organisation

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