Liberal market economies, business, and political finance: Britain under New Labour
McMenamin, Iain (2011) Liberal market economies, business, and political finance: Britain under New Labour. West European Politics, 34 (5). pp. 1021-1043. ISSN 0140-2382
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The extent and nature of business financing of parties is an important feature of political finance. Britain’s transparent and permissive regulatory system provides an excellent opportunity to study business financing of parties. Business donations have been very important to the Conservative party over the last decade, and of only marginal importance to Labour. Unlike other Conservative contributors, business donors are more likely to contribute when the party is popular. In contrast to the previous period of Conservative government, the biggest British businesses tended to abstain from political finance under New Labour. However, their bias towards the Conservatives is affected by the party’s popularity and the closeness of an election. Britain shares the political importance of business financing of parties and its mixture of ideological and pragmatic motivations with other liberal market economies. However, in Britain the bias towards the right is much stronger and the role of big business more marginal.
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