A vote that could have changed Britain

22 Apr 2013

A vote has just taken place that could have changed British Democracy forever.

And it didn’t take place in Westminster but over in Strasburg – as the European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban on paid political broadcast advertising in a knife edge 9-8 vote.

This ruling should be welcome news to all democrats. Lifting the ban would have irrevocably changed the political landscape in Britain, and not for the better.

The last Senate race in Pennsylvania cost more ($40 million) than our three main parties spent on the last General Election combined ($31 million). And it didn’t buy a higher quality of debate – just back to back attack ads.
We've been seriously concerned that lifting the ban would escalate the current ‘arms race’ on political spending and fuel the rise of the British SuperPAC – the interest groups that pour millions into political advertising independently of the US parties at and between elections.
The US experience shows the only people who would profit from TV attack ads are moneyed interest groups, TV networks and paid political consultants. The biggest loser would be democratic debate in Britain.

For a moment it looked like the UK was sleepwalking towards SuperPAC Politics. There is already a problem with big money in our politics, but lifting this ban would have made it look like small change.


5 Responses to A vote that could have changed Britain

Stuart Moore 22 Apr 2013


Trouble is they'll be back, but this time with more more money to buy off the politicians

This should have been voted down 17-0

deh3 22 Apr 2013

I have not seen conclusive evidence that there is a causal mechanism between campaign advertising and outcome of elections. If people are interested in reducing the importance of campaign contributions, the electoral quotient should decrease and replace first-past-the-post voting with proportional representation, which would increase the interaction between constituents/voters and candidates/politicians. Danny Handelman

Trystan Jones 22 Apr 2013

I agree with you on proportional representation, but surely if one or a number of parties are allowed more air time than others then this would be an unfair advantage? And it would increase the power of business interests.

deh3 24 May 2013

Based on my knowledge, "mainstream" media comprises a decreasing proportion of the population, and I believe people's trust in "mainstream" media is currently lower than historical levels.

mark 6 May 2013