10 things the media didn’t tell you about changing party political funding


2:24 pm - July 29th 2013

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by Josiah Mortimer

Last week saw the release of all registered parties’ finances for 2012, as well as Q1 figures for 2013.

It was gold dust for politics geeks. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), the media chose to ignore pretty much all of the data, probably due to all the much more newsworthy story of a couple having a baby.

The press did pick up on Labour’s finances, noting it received the most donations out of any party after raking in over £33m). Yet this fails to note that the total was in reality a fair bit higher than that due to the existence of the Co-operative Party, which only runs candidates jointly with Labour – effectively adding over £1m to Labour’s spending. So £34m spent, with not much of a boost for Miliband.

There are some much more interesting findings altogether ignored. Here’s the top ten:

1) The BNP remains heavily in debt (despite claims by Nick Griffin that it’s on the mend), with over £356,000 in liabilities. While a slight improvement on its previous £541k of debt, in relation to its income (nearly £650k) it still equates to the party being 55% in the red.

2) UKIP’s rise isn’t really reflected in its 2012 finances after bringing in £1.23m, only slightly up on its £1.07m in 2011. And it spent just over a million pounds, little up on its £971k the year before. So its surge in membership and support doesn’t seem to have translated immediately into hard cash. On the other hand, it looks like it’s building up a substantial-ish fighting fund for the 2015 election (see here). Thus far it’s amassed over £323k, tripling its 2011 assets of £104k. Keep your eye out for a continuing trend in 2014 in the run-up to the election.

3) The SNP’s income plummeted last year from over £5m in 2011 to just over £2.3m. That doesn’t bode well for its independence hopes. It’s also reflected in its expenditure, which went from £3.45m in 2011 to £2.66m last year. It does have half a million quid in reserves, meaning the SNP could be gearing up for a big referendum campaign spending spree in 2014. Or it could reflect its activists and independence supporters tunnelling funds directly into the Yes to Independence campaign. Check out the dramatic graph anyway.

4) A mixed picture for the Welsh nationalists, with Plaid Cymru racking up £683k in income and spending £594k of it – yet with similar assets to that of UKIP of £318k. Why does a Welsh-only party have the same amount in the kitty as a UK-wide party polling double that of the Liberal Democrats?

5) The Green Party of England and Wales is on the up, remaining one of the only parties to spend less than it brings in. Basically, the Greens know how to ‘balance the books’. Scoring some steady gains in local government, the party ran a pretty tight ship on an income of £781k (not much more than the collapsing BNP’s £650k), and spent £745k. Not bad work.

6) Things aren’t great for the Liberal Democrats. They’ve gone from holding nearly £2m of assets in 2006 to being £1.15m in the red today. At the same time, their income has gone from £10m in 2010 (at the peak of Cleggmania) to £6.4m today, a collapse of more than a third. The phrase ‘terminal decline’ comes to mind.

7) Labour are actually much less in debt than the Conservatives. Says a lot about Osborne’s economic policies both for the country and his own party…

8) The Communist Party of Britain seems to be doing reasonably (especially given it sort of disbanded at the start of the 1990s), with an income of £123k while spending over £129k in 2012 – leading some to ask how it was planning to make up the shortfall: Keynesian stimulus or ruthless austerity? Either way it’s unclear what they spend it on given they rarely stand candidates. Either way we won’t know who funds them since they stopped registering large donations in mid-2009 (check it yourself here).

9) The ~200 member strong Socialist Party of Great Britain, not to be confused with the much larger Socialist Party of England and Wales (hold off the People’s Front of Judea jokes…), raked in a £295,775 donation early this year from a certain Mr. Stanley Robert Parker. He’s a published sociologist (cited on Wikipedia, no less). In fact, his donation is the 7th largest party donation of the whole first quarter of 2013. The same chap also gave them £150k at the end of 2012.

10) Company donations made up over 40% of UKIP’s income in the first part of the year, a higher proportion than any other party (the Lib Dems ranking second at nearly 25%, with the Tories on less than a fifth).


Josiah Mortimer is an activist and Politics student – @josiahmortimer

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Reader comments


7) Labour are actually much less in debt than the Conservatives. Says a lot about Osborne’s economic policies both for the country and his own party…

Um, no they really aren’t. Go to table 7 (‘Loans outstanding by parties as at 31 March 2013’) and tell me how outstanding loans of £9,861,055 are “actually much less” than outstanding loans of £2,609,396.

I suspect you’re looking at table 8 – credit facilities. But that’s not the same thing at all – it’s the difference between how big your approved overdraft is, and how much you’re currently overdrawn.

2. Andy Hicks

The Communist Party link is missing, could it be added?

3. Charlieman

“8) The Communist Party of Britain seems to be doing reasonably (especially given it sort of disbanded at the start of the 1990s), with an income of £123k while spending over £129k in 2012 – leading some to ask how it was planning to make up the shortfall: Keynesian stimulus or ruthless austerity?”

I presume that the above organisation is a close successor of the CPGB, owing to the Morning Star affiliation.

Do not assume that all communists are poor:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/nov/10/otherparties.topstories3

Ms Halpin is spending her money slowly. Other Marxists at Spiked Online have an alternative interpretation for the downfall of capitalism: speed it up by encouraging folly.

4. margin4error

Election years and finance.

Points 3 and 6 appear to compare party finances in their big election years with subsequent non-election years.

The SNP figures should be much higher in 2011 because that is when the Scottish Elections (their big election) and hence that year sees income spike between non campaign years in 2010 (yes, yes, I know, but to the SNP it isn’t a big election year) and 2012.

Likewise the Lib Dems would expect a similar spike in income in their big election year (2010) compared to a non-election year like 2012.

Just thought I’d flag that up.

The SNP figures were artificially inflated last year because of two major £1million donations, one from a legacy the other from some lottery winners who Salmond sent a begging letter to.


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