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Coffee House

Who donates what to the Labour party?

10 September 2013

7:43 PM

10 September 2013

7:43 PM

Who donates to Labour? It’s a question asked countless times since Ed Miliband began to reconsider his party’s links with the trade unions but there has been much confusion over the numbers, in particular the importance to Labour of union funding. Here’s a quick guide to who donates how much to the Labour party.

1. How much do Labour receive in donations?
In 2012, Labour received £19 million in donations, which is roughly the same as the year before and in 2008, a similar point in the electoral cycle. It’s still down from £25 million at the last general election:


For comparison, the Conservative party received £14 million in 2012 and the Liberal Democrats £3 million.

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2. How much do the trade unions donate?
Out of the £19 million received last year, £9 million was received via trade unions donations, or 46 per cent. Money from trade unions reached a peak at the last general election at £14 million, or 54 per cent of their total donations. This is how much the unions have given over the last decade (totalling a whopping £113 million):


Of course, unions aren’t the only donors to Labour. Closely followed are individuals, who have collectively also given millions to the party. Miliband is threatening to throttle this stream of revenue too, with a proposed cap of £5,000 on individual donors; although this would hit the Conservative party more. This is how much the top four groups of donors have given since 2002:


If you’re unsure quite what the changes to union funding are, Jim Pickard has produced an excellent Q&A over at FT Westminster. Pickard points out although £8 million may be wiped off their books instantly if the union’s automatic ‘opt in’ is cut, the money will very possibly make its way to Labour through other means.

3. Is Labour in debt?
Yes. Untangling the statement of accounts for any party is tricky but from the last quarterly report in March 2013, the Electoral Commission informs me the party has outstanding loans of just under £10 million. Their loans have remained around the £9.8 million mark since September 2012.

However in April 2013, two new loans were taken out, worth £1,217,500 each, from the Co-op and Unity Trust bank. This brings the total to £12.8 million. With these loans on their book, the possibility of the changes to how Labour is funded leaving the party going bankrupt, as Len McCluskey has suggested, does not look entirely implausible.

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