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Paying the parties

Party funding is a burning issue in the US, even after the election. Labour, if elected, will expand public funding for political parties in Britain. But in the meantime where are the parties getting the money to fight the most expensive election this century?

By Martin Rosenbaum   February 1997

The 1997 election campaign will be the most extravagant contest in real terms since the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act in 1883 curtailed corruption and introduced limits on election expenditure. British campaigning may still be cheap compared to the US (where enormous sums are devoted to television advertising, which parties in Britain are not allowed to use), but its costs are rising. Spending in 1997 will not only exceed that of recent elections, it will also beat in real terms the most lavish Conservative efforts of the past in the 1929, 1935 and 1964 elections. And this ignores the…

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