High-profile controversies surrounding the funding of political parties have shown how inequalities in wealth can enter the political process. The growth of the professional lobbying of MPs and the executive raises similar questions about money in politics. More broadly, inequalities emerge in terms of the opportunities the public have to participate in political debate. This analysis of the ways wealth can be used to influence politics in Britain explores the threat posed to the principle of political equality. As well as examining lobbying and party funding, the discussion also focuses on the ownership and control of the media, the chance to be heard on the internet and the impact of the privatisation of public spaces on rights to assemble and protest. Looking at this range of political activities, the author proposes various strategies designed to protect the integrity of British democracy and stop inequalities in wealth becoming inequalities in politics.
Jacob Rowbottom is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge.
1. Political equality, wealth and democracy; 2. Freedom to speak and freedom to spend; 3. Strategies and reforms; 4. Access, influence and lobbying; 5. Beyond equal votes: election campaigns and political parties; 6. Public spaces, property and participation; 7. The mass media: democratic dreams and private propagandists; 8. Participation in the digital era: a new distribution?; 9. Conclusion.