‘Lordy Me!’ Can donations buy you a British peerage? A study in the link between party political funding and peerage nominations, 2005–2014
Trust in political institutions has declined across developed democracies. One of the main reasons cited for this lack of trust has been the role of money in politics, while standing up to ‘big money’ has been a common rallying cry of populists of both left- and right-wing variants. Political scientists have tried to examine the role of big money in two main steps: firstly, by showing that money can buy access to legislators; and, secondly, that legislators are thereby more responsive to the wishes of donors when writing and voting on laws. Researchers have used experiments and other techniques to show that Congressional staffs are more responsive to requests from donors compared to others and have also shown aggregate trends in responsiveness to the preferences of the wealthier. In this paper we try and go one step further: to show that donors can become legislators. We do this by looking at the example of the House of Lords. Compiling an original dataset of large donations and nominations for peerages, the authors show that, when the ‘usual suspects’ for a position, like former MPs and party workers, are accounted for, donations seem to play an outsize role in accounting for the remaining peers.
KeywordsParty funding Donations House of lords Populism Money in politics British politics Influence
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