Political Finance in the United Kingdom

20 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2013

See all articles by Timothy Winters

Timothy Winters

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Date Written: August 29, 2013


This paper considers the topic of political finance in the United Kingdom through the lens of institutional corruption. It gives an introduction to two core principles, spending limits and transparency, which underpin current legislation surrounding political finance in the UK. It then addresses the possibility of a cap on donations, as recommended by the British government’s Committee on Standards in Public Life. Finally, it reflects on the roles of trade unions, the media and other third parties as aspects of the British establishment which are of particular relevance to the subject of institutional corruption. Through this brief overview of the system of political finance in the United Kingdom, it will be seen that the concept of institutional corruption is as relevant to the British context as it is to the US. Despite differences, particularly with regard to the specific roles of various stakeholders, it is apparent that there are similarities between the two systems, for instance with regard to the role of third-party funders, the debate between ensuring freedom of speech and leveling the electoral playing field, and the importance of transparency, not only in law but also in practice.

Keywords: Institutional Corruption, political finance, United Kingdom, spending limits, transparency, donation limits, role of third parties

Suggested Citation

Winters, Timothy, Political Finance in the United Kingdom (August 29, 2013). Edmond J. Safra Working Papers, No. 20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2317505 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2317505

Timothy Winters (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ethics.harvard.edu/lab

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