Frank Hester disgrace shows why influence of wealthy donors must be curbed

The super-rich already dominate too much of our politics.

We need strict new rules to curb the impact and influence of wealthy donors on our politics, say the Scottish Greens.

The call comes as the Tory Party faces continued condemnation over millionaire Tory donor Frank Hester, who is reported to have made a series of racist and discriminatory remarks.

The Scottish Greens are calling for a cap on the amounts an individual or campaign group can donate to a political party, and the amount parties and candidates can spend during an election.

A 2021 study showed that just 10 wealthy people accounted for a quarter of all donations made by individuals to the Conservative Party.

In 2011 the Committee and Standards on Public Life recommended a £10,000 a year cap on individual donations, and has subsequently called for a series of reforms to increase transparency.

The Scottish Greens equalities spokesperson, Maggie Chapman MSP, said: “Frank Hester’s remarks were grotesque, and it is utterly shameful that the Tories have still not returned his dirty money.

“But the problem is much wider than Hester and his racist and misogynistic comments, it’s the whole broken system for party funding. When wealthy individuals give huge sums of money to political parties they aren’t doing it to be nice, they’re doing it to secure influence and power. 

“And it works. The Tory Party clearly won’t stand up to the people who are bankrolling them or risk doing anything that may lose their support - that is why so many Ministers have been so prepared to defend Mr Hester.

“This whole shameful saga emphasises why we must curb the influence of the super-rich, rather than allowing them to dominate so much of our politics.

“The system is broken and it is fundamentally undemocratic. It has put far too much power in the hands of a small number of dodgy donors and cronies. That is why we need hard caps on how much can be donated by individuals or campaign groups.

“It is 13 years since the Committee on Standards and Public Life recommended a £10,000 a year cap on individual donations. It was totally ignored by the UK government. The problem has got worse since then.

“The super rich already have far too much sway in our politics. I am proud that the Scottish Greens are a people-powered party that stands for our climate and communities.”