Electoral Commission calls for more transparency in political finance

By agency reporter
November 18, 2017

The Electoral Commission has called for changes to the law to further improve transparency and strengthen confidence in the UK’s political finance rules, in a report on political finance regulation at the general election. It has also published the campaign expenditure returns of political parties and registered non-party campaigners that spent £250,000 or less campaigning at the 2017 UK Parliamentary general election and details of candidates’ spending and donations.

The Commission reports that most candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners have complied with the rules on campaigning at the UK parliamentary general election.

Candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners made significant use of digital campaigning in this election, providing new opportunities for campaigners to engage voters, but the report also identifies risks to transparency. Commission recommendations include:

  • Online campaign material produced by political parties and non-party campaigners should – like its printed equivalent – be required to include an imprint stating who has published it. This would enable voters to identify who is spending money trying to influence them at elections.
  • Campaigners should be required to report more detailed breakdowns of spending, including different types of advertising such as online and social media promotion.

The Commission also continues to recommend that its investigative and sanctioning powers at major elections should be extended to include offences relating to candidate spending and donations.

Sir John Holmes, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said, “Most candidates, parties and campaigners comply with the rules. However, failures to comply can reduce transparency and damage voters’ confidence in elections, which is why breaches must be dealt with effectively. We want to work with the UK’s governments and legislatures to ensure further transparency about spending on digital and online campaigns, and to reassure voters accordingly. These changes should be in place ahead of the next scheduled national elections.”

Read the report Political finance regulation at the June 2017 UK general election here

* The Electoral Commission https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/

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