From International Socialism (1st series), No.29, Summer 1967, p.36.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Amazingly, a British general election, measured on a per capita basis, costs more than an American presidential election. This is, to a large extent, because big business has increasingly sought to influence voters. It conducts independently, through organisations like Aims of Industry, campaigns against nationalisation and for private enterprise. On top of this, big business provides about £800,000 of the Conservative Central Office’s £1,250,000 annual income. The class nature of British politics is further revealed by considering the Labour Party. Trade unions provide 55 per cent of its finance, constituency parties 34 per cent, Co-ops 9 per cent, Transport House 2 per cent. Overwhelmingly, Labour gets its money from the working class.
The above facts are gleaned from Professor Rose’s interesting and informative book. He does not simply tell how the political parties acquire their finance, but also the often crazy way they spend it. For instance, in June 1963 Labour and Conservative pre-election advertising began. But only 26 per cent of persons interviewed by NOP claimed to have seen a party advert. Of these, two thirds could not remember any of the party messages. In January-April 1964 the Tories spent £440,000 in half-page newspaper ads to popularise their leader, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, and pollsters reported the public’s satisfaction with him dropped from 58 to 48 per cent. Not to be out-done, the Labour Party had a publicity campaign for Harold Wilson. At the conclusion of the twelve-month effort on behalf of the Leader, the level of approval had fallen to 63 per cent. And now International Socialism is thinking of having its own campaign for Harold Wilson. All contributions should be sent to the Editor.
Last updated: 6 May 2010