Tortoise Media launches new podcast investigating the role of money in British politics

Findings taken from interactive database created in partnership with Sky News

News organisation Tortoise Media has launched a new podcast, The Westminster Accounts, as part of a partnership with Sky News investigating how money flows in and out of the UK parliament. 

Findings presented in the podcast are derived from the Westminster Accounts interactive database, commissioned by Sky News and built by Tortoise. The tool makes it easy for the public to search the financial records of their local MPs just by searching their postcode and names. 

“Until now, it’s been impossible to make sense of the relationship between money and politics,” said founder and editor of Tortoise Media, James Harding. “Parliament might be transparent in theory, but, by default or design, the jumble of declarations, registers and accounts has made it very hard to understand who gives, who gets, how much and for what. The Westminster Accounts makes all that information accessible for all of us.”

Any exclusive data findings discovered through the database, which launched on 8 January, will be summarised and highlighted on Tortoise’s podcast page each day this week.

The first episode, hosted by Tortoise editor Basia Cummings and political editor Catherine Neilan, premiered on Monday this week and covered how £183 million in outside funds went into parliament as well as shining a light on how money can play a role in British politics.

The database tool was created by Tortoise data journalists, and breaks down records of donations and payments made by MPs, political parties, and all-party parliamentary groups that have been publicly declared. The information presented covers the entire parliamentary term from December 2019 and will be updated dynamically until the next General Election. 

With the UK’s rapidly-shifting political landscape, podcasting has become an increasingly powerful tool in understanding Westminster politics, with more audiences - including those inside Westminster - turning to shows like Politico’s Westminster Insider to get a clear summary of what is going on in the UK parliament. 

“This pioneering project from Sky News and Tortoise will give the public a better understanding of how politics is funded in this country,” said head of Sky News John Ryley. “The Westminster Accounts tool is available to everyone and is a big step in making the workings of parliament more transparent and understandable for the public at large.” 

Significant discoveries made through the database will also be revealed on Sky News by political editor Sam Coates and on Tortoise Media’s weekly Sensemaker newsletter .