Parties for the Public Good

Published: October 2006 Publication Type: Publication

Authors: Geoff Mulgan , Rushanara Ali

This report – backed by a major Ipsos/MORI poll – warns against ‘insider’s stitch up on party funding’ and calls for reversal of a 20 year trend towards ‘centralisation, marketing and dependence on dubious donors’’ which has left parties hollowed out and less trusted by the public; and makes recommendations for rebuilding political parties as civic institutions.

To reconnect parties and the public the report sets out a new deal that could help the parties grow once again – including changes to their legal status and their funding, as well as recommendations on how parties could rebuild themselves as strong civic institutions, rooted in local communities.

The Ipsos MORI poll provides strong support for these recommendations. It shows that the public recognizes the vital role parties have to play in the democratic system. 49% believed that political parties enabled people to have a voice and 45% that political parties are good for the democratic system. They come well ahead of businesses, councils or voluntary organizations in meeting peoples’ long term needs.

The idea that political parties can be for the public good may seem strange in an antipolitical era. But a democracy based on robust competition – and occasional cooperation – between strong political parties remains the best guarantee that we get governments that serve us, rather than the other way around.

Download a full pdf version of the publication.