EXCLUSIVE: Majority of voters think people with large amounts of money can use it to ‘buy’ influence in UK politics, poll finds

Voters of all major political parties agree that those with large amounts of money can use it to ‘buy influence' in UK politics

Tory sleaze

A majority of voters believe that having large amounts of money can be used to ‘buy influence in Westminster and UK politics’, an exclusive poll for LFF has found.

The findings come as the government faces accusations of cronyism and sleaze, examples of which include Peter Cruddas being made a Tory peer, after which he donated £500,000 to the Conservative party. The city tycoon has denied there was a link between his peerage and the donation.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick has also previously come under fire for granting planning permission for a £1 billion property scheme, with the developer, Richard Desmond, donating £12,000 just weeks before the decision.

The Conservative party has also been mired in allegations of cronyism after PPE contracts were handed to firms with connections to the Conservative Party.

According to the LFF survey, conducted on behalf of Savanta ComRes, 70% of those asked agreed with the statement that ‘people with large amounts of money can use it to ‘buy’ influence in Westminster and UK politics’, with only 5% disagreeing.

Of the 2,176 people asked, 39% strongly agreed with the statement, with 32% somewhat agreeing, and 17% neither agreeing or disagreeing.

Those who strongly disagreed with the statement made up 2% of those surveyed, with 4% somewhat disagreeing.

Support for the statement was highest amongst those aged 65 and over, with 77% agreeing with the statement, compared with 54% of 18-24 year olds.

Among those who had voted Conservative at the last election, 73% agreed with the statement, compared with 85% of Labour voters and 96% of Green voters.

The highest age group who disagreed with the statement were those aged 25-34. Among those who voted for Brexit in 2016, 77% agreed that those with money could use it to buy influence.

Voters were also asked if they believed people with large amounts of money trying to ‘buy’ influence in Westminster has increased, decreased, or stayed about the same in recent years.

A total of 49% of voters think it has increased over recent years, with the Tories having been in power for over a decade, while only 5% believed it had decreased.

Around 29% believed that those trying to use their wealth to buy influence in Westminster had stayed the same over recent years, while 17% said they didn’t know.

Of those who believe it had increased, support for the view was highest among those aged 55-64. Those who had voted for the Brexit party were more likely than voters of any other party to say they thought the number of people who were trying to use their wealth to buy influence in UK politics had decreased in recent years. 

Steve Goodrich, Head of Research and Investigations at Transparency International UK told LFF: “It is clear that some parties’ unhealthy reliance on a small number of wealthy donors undermines confidence in the probity of our politicians, and that change is needed to address these concerns.

“Cross-party consensus on party funding reform is needed now more than ever, yet political will is notably absent in Westminster. Given lessons from the past, the next big scandal is inevitable without steps to take the corrupting influence of big money out of our democracy.”

The questions asked were: ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? ‘People with large amounts of money can use it to ‘buy’ influence in Westminster and UK politics’ and ‘Do you believe people with large amounts of money trying to ‘buy’ influence in Westminster has increased, decreased, or stayed about the same in recent years?’

The poll was prepared by Savanta: ComRes, with fieldwork Conducted between the 2nd – 4th July 2021.

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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