There is a lot of money to be made from getting websites visible. Search engine optimisation, I believe it is called. It is a science in itself to get yourself up the top of page 1 of a google search, whether to help a website sell something or attract clicks for an advertising banner. Rumour has it that employing the dark arts of this trade for companies are how the great Tim Ireland keeps bread on the table.
Presumably you can work it backwards. I was working out links between corporate and NGO recipients of government and EU grants in Lancashire and New Labour – which would make a book in itself. There is a statutory duty on political parties to publish lists of party donors, but weirdly a google search will not help you find it.
Google search “New Labour Donors” and you will be overwhelmed by a mountain of journalistic sleaze revelations, but you will have to scroll through pages for months before finding a statutory published list. I am rather proud to say this blog comes top of page 2.
In fact the results give you an amusing and accurate caricature of the parties. From New Labour nothing, zilch, all anal and clammed up. Google search “Conservative Party Donors” and again nowhere will you find the list of Conservative Party donors, but the Tories understand search engine optimisation and right up at items 3 and 4 are Tory website links urging you to make a donation, credit cards accepted. Google “Liberal Democrat” donors and again you won’t find a list, but you will find on the first page two major Lib Dem blogs attacking their own party for corruption!
I presume I will find the lists on the electoral commission website. But it really ought to be easier. In a past age, certain notices had by law to be posted in the church porch or council noticeboard, because that was the easiest place for the public to find them in the technology of the day. You could not post them on the outhouse. But the lists of party donors are on the virtual equivalent of the back of the one-holer.