Democracy and the Cost of Politics in Britain

Democracy and the Cost of Politics in Britain

Democracy and the Cost of Politics in Britain

Democracy and the Cost of Politics in Britain

Excerpt

Although concerned with the economics of politics, this book is not an economic interpretation in the sense of explaining all political phenomena as a superstructure resting upon economic relations. Like other men, politicians are motivated by unmaterialistic ideals, and usually more than other men they are enticed by power as an end in itself. In explaining the rise and fall of the expense of a political career in Britain I have sought to give proper emphasis to these non- economic motives while at the same time showing how very important, both to individuals and to groups, has been the desire for betterment of material conditions. In dealing with the consequences of this expense, in most cases I have had to single out only one of several causes contributing to a particular effect, and while being bound by my subject not to venture into a discussion of these other causes, I have tried to indicate where they have existed and not to attribute more influence to the financial aspect than it actually exerted.

The main body of this book attempts to show the relationship between the nineteenth-century transition to political democracy and the cost of a parliamentary career in Britain. To do this adequately, I have found it necessary to open the work with an historical explanation of the cost of politics before the first Reform Act and to close it with a chapter briefly delineating the further development of the new pattern which had formed by 1918. I should like to make it quite clear that the last chapter concerns trends which began during the nineteenth century and is not a full account of all the present problems of money in British politics. Before 1918, money for parliamentary elections for the most part was spent in the constituencies and by candidates. Today, with voters more interested in the success of a National Party than a particular candidate, expenditure on the national campaign both by the party central offices and . . .

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