FAO Ray Collins: A modest proposal

September 5, 2013 9:01 am

Labour doesn’t have a funding crisis…yet. But the task of avoiding one as a result of the (Ray) Collins review into party funding just got harder.

Yesterday’s news about the loss of GMB money is a blow no matter how you slice it. Common consensus has it that Labour must learn to do more with less. Which is true – as far as it goes.

As Labour changes its relations with our affiliates at the top so we have pledged to strengthen our relationships at a grassroots level. I have some sympathy with Anthony Painter’s view that we have not yet fully commited to this path.

The reaction from Labour to the reduction in the level of funding from GMB has been to say that the majority of Labour’s funds come from membership and small donations and this is true. But it is not the whole story.

The thing that the unions have – when giving large sums of money – is a sense of oversight. Not an excess of policy influence (as the Tories like to claim) but of a certain amount of understanding of where the money would go and what it would be spent on. If we are to increase the sense of ownership that all members and small donors have for the Party, we need to increase their sense that they are paying towards the things that members think are important for making Labour an electable force in the country.

For me, and for the many members I have spoken to today, this means organising.

I don’t want to pay £X for £X leaflets or billboards. I want to know that the money I am giving regularly goes to the best possble way of electing the next Labour government.

I am glad to pay my membership towards making the Party work. I am currently also happy to pay £10 a month to general costs. But I would be happy to pledge to double that – nay tripple it – if I could ensure that money was going to pay for local organisers on the ground.

As it stands, I donate to the national party – with no control over what is done with that donation – and to my local party. My local Party are lovely. But we are a safe seat and I would like to find a way to spread the money while retaining a sense of ownderhip in how it is spent.

Just as many campaigning organisations have always done, Labour should make giving more enticing by allowing donors to know exactly what it is they are funding. If a donor doesn’t want to specify there should be a general fund (and membership fees should not be ringfenced in this way to allow for the discretion of good Labour Pary management such as we are seeing under Iain McNicol), But there should also be a seperate fund – allowed to fundraise seperately – for organising. For members to recognise the value of spreading their donations further down the line to where it can and will do the most good.

Ed Miliband is right to talk of mending – not ending – our relationship with the unions. In order to show real faith in doing so, what better than learning from the best examples the unions set us? Unions are at their very best when they are engaged in organising at a community level. Labour is too. Let’s formalise that lesson by allowing members and supporters to specifically support that work through a dedicated organising fund.

The new politics the Coalition offered us was a lie. You just have to look at the dreadful lobbying bill to see that. But there could be a new way of doing Labour poltics that reflected that hunger that we saw in the country. This isn’t a whole solution. There is so much more to do. But it could be a great start.

  • Redshift1

    A fairly sensible proposal but realistically I think the crucial element of Ray Collin’s review will actually be sitting down with people like Paul Kenny and coming up with a negotiated solution, noone has yet suggested.

  • Steve Buckingham

    Emma’s got such a good point about donating directly towards Organisers in key seats that Labour HQ has already had such a scheme in place for some time. Hope everyone can follow the link and donate: http://www2.labour.org.uk/gameplan-explained

Latest

  • Featured Is the Labour Party campaigning hard enough for the European elections?

    Is the Labour Party campaigning hard enough for the European elections?

    In a week that supposedly signalled an end of the Cost of Living Crisis as wages begin to rise faster than inflation, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls will feel vindicated to learn that as far as LabourList readers are concerned, at least, it’s not over yet. An overwhelming 94% of those who responded to our survey this week believe the Cost of Living Crisis continues. That will certainly give new strategist David Axelrod something to work with, if activists are convinced […]

    Read more →
  • News Anyone for an Easter (Cl)Egg?

    Anyone for an Easter (Cl)Egg?

    The Mirror today have a story about a Labour attack on Nick Clegg – a chocolate “Easter Clegg”. It’s ‘completely hollow, melts under pressure and leaves bad taste in mouth”. The box also contains a “free mug”. Here’s a photo: Seemingly the Easter Clegg is “100% Authentically Conservative” and should be stored in David Cameron’s pocket. Meanwhile, both The Sun and The Telegraph claim this morning that Miliband would be happy to appoint Nick Clegg as Deputy PM in the event […]

    Read more →
  • News Ed Miliband’s Easter Message

    Ed Miliband’s Easter Message

    Here’s Ed Miliband’s Easter Message – touching on his recent trip to the Holy Land, and the work Christians do in their communities across Britain: “As Christians across Great Britain and the rest of the world gather to celebrate the most important event in the Christian faith, I would like to wish you all a happy Easter. “It was a privilege for me to visit the Holy Land in the lead up to Easter this year. I will be thinking […]

    Read more →
  • Comment UKIP’s attitude to accountability should worry us all

    UKIP’s attitude to accountability should worry us all

    UKIP’s reaction to the allegations over the use of the party’s EU funding has been telling. It tells us that they are not yet ready to take the step up from a being an assortment of oddballs and cranks to a serious political party. After The Times ran their front page on Tuesday, UKIP’s immediate reaction was to denounce the paper as a mouthpiece for the establishment, rather than bother to refute what they felt was incorrect about the article. […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured In praise of Simon Danczuk

    In praise of Simon Danczuk

    Simon Danczuk has led the front pages this week with his explosive account of how an MP could hide a lifetime of abusing children. The Westminster reaction to his Cyril Smith allegations? Embarrassed coughs. Good on Simon for having the courage to speak his mind. Since his 2010 election, itself a feat of endurance, he’s demonstrated a forensic mind and a canny eye for a story. He represents a diminishing Westminster breed, a ‘character’ who speaks with an authentic voice […]

    Read more →