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Friend of Tortoise Exclusive

The art of the deal: why does the property sector give so much to political parties?

The art of the deal: why does the property sector give so much to political parties?

This event is exclusive to Friends of Tortoise

This is a digital-only ThinkIn. 

Political parties are awash with donations from property developers. More than £60m has been donated by property developers to the Conservative party over the past decade alone. Robert Jenrick, former Communities Secretary, was accused of bias after overruling planning inspectors over a developed proposed by Richard Desmond — just days after he had donated £12,000 to the Conservative Party.  

The issue is not restricted to national politics. In 2018, a Westminster City councillor was forced to resign after receiving nearly 900 instances of hospitality or gifts over a six year period — the majority of which from property developers trying to get planning permission. 

What is it about our property and planning sectors that attract so much political cash? Is this simply a story of buying political favour? Do we need to radically reform party funding, and does the system need to be more transparent? 

editor and invited experts

Emily Benn

Duncan Hames
Director of Policy, Transparency International

Peter Geoghegan
Investigations Editor at openDemocracy and Author of ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’

Sue Hawley
Executive Director at Spotlight on Corruption