City believes big party donors should get some senior access in return for their cash

IT is reasonable for major donors to political parties to expect some access to party leaders in return for their cash, according to a majority of those surveyed by City A.M./PoliticsHome.com.

Fifty-three per cent of business professionals asked said that those who give over £250,000 should expect to be get “general meetings with the party leader, ministers and shadow ministers alongside other major donors”. A smaller group, 22 per cent, said donors should also get “individual private meetings” with the most senior politicians.

But attitudes are sharply divided: 38 per cent said, by contrast, that donors should not expect to receive anything in return for their funding.

The strong expectation that donors should get some bang for their buck could discourage any attempt by the government to cut access for those paying parties’ bills.

The poll also revealed that the City panel believes that personal gifts are the best funding source for parties, rather than corporate or public cash.

One respondent said: “Everyone needs to grow up and recognise that money buys influence in all walks of life.” Another said: “I don’t see it as an issue. The Tories meet their private donors over dinner, Labour meet their trade union funders over dinner. So what?”

But others expressed concerns: “I [would] prefer that donations are from a much larger number of people and not for parties to be reliant on a limited number of very large donations.” Another said: “Donations are fine, they just need to be transparent and open.”