Last week, the Electoral Commission published details of the donations received by registered ‘non-party campaigners” for the period 19 September to 18 December 2014. Only three non-party campaigners reported donations in excess of £7,500 during this period:
- The Campaign for British Influence in Europe Limited a the cross-party pro-EU membership campaign which received £175,000 from Lord David Sainsbury and Betterworld Limited;
- Vote for Policies Ltd, an independent non-profit run by volunteers, whose aim is to increase participation in elections, and make policies the focus of everyone’s voting decision. Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd gave this group £11,225, and other smaller donations between £500 and £7,500 were also received’
- Vote-OK, which “aims to ensure that in May 2015 that we elect a government that will understand and appreciate the ways of the countryside, and will bring forward, on the basis of a free vote, legislation to repeal the Hunting Act 2004”, received £14,639 from The Hunting Office, as well as some small donations.
At the time of its publication, 12 February 2015, 45 non-party campaigners had registered with the Commission, and in addition to the organizations that received reportable donations, a further three reported smaller donations for which details were not required: 38 Degrees, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; and Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015.
Details of donations received in the second pre-poll reporting period (19 December 2014 – 18 March 2015) will be published on 30 April; and the third pre-poll reporting period (19 March – 29 March) will be published on 5 May.
Currently a total of 49 organizations or individuals are registered as non-party campaigners, here, and the Conservative Muslim Forum has joined the other faith groups we reported earlier: the Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, (Quakers), and the Salvation Army. In addition there are other groups whose interests may have an impact on some faith groups.
Whilst this recent post facto analysis by the Electoral Commission provides information on how the registered organizations have complied within the provisions of the legislation, it does not give any insights into the effectiveness of the 2014 Act in providing greater transparency. Furthermore, the reported donations of £175,000 to non-party campaigners pale into insignificance when measured against the £20,326,862 donations over this period received by the eight GB political parties registered with the Electoral Commission.
It would be difficult to construe the pastoral letter published on Tuesday by the House of Bishops as a campaigning document and falling within the ambit of the Transparency of Lobbying, (etc) Act 2014. The House of Bishops’ letter has much in common with the initiatives of other faith groups, such as the Religious Society of Friends and the Show Up campaign, and these will be reviewed in a future post
 Strictly, a slightly different time period, i.e. 1 October and 31 December 2014.