FAO Ray Collins: A modest proposal

5th September, 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.

  • SimonD

    This is a rather depressing argument in that it accepts trade unions will have no collective voice even before the review has begun. Ed might talk of mending the relationship with the unions, but at the same time dishonestly has implied fraud and illegal activity in Falkirk that has not been substantiated by the police investigation. The fact is that the party has been manipulated by a small right wing clique for decades, and that they have had their noses put out of joint when Unite quite reasonably recruit members to the party and encourages its members to support a candidate who is closer to their policies. Rather than thinking ways of excluding trade unions, we should be thinking ways of being better able to incorporate the views of trade unionists in our policy making.

  • 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

  • News Reed warns over threat of further electoral slump amid council funding fears

    Reed warns over threat of further electoral slump amid council funding fears

    A Labour shadow minister has warned against assumptions that the party’s vote has “hit the bottom” and told colleagues they must speak up for England to a greater extent. Steve Reed, shadow minister for local government, said Labour must learn more from major councils which had managed to be “credible, relevant and win elections”. Reed, a former Lambeth council leader, also warned that the party leadership “feels out of touch”. “I wish the Labour party could speak for England in […]

    Read more →
  • News Maria Eagle accuses Cameron of breaking Leveson promise

    Maria Eagle accuses Cameron of breaking Leveson promise

    Labour is seeking to force the Government to proceed with the second part of the Leveson inquiry after Ministers suggested it was on the brink of being dropped. Maria Eagle, shadow Culture Secretary, accused David Cameron of breaking a promise to set up an examination of misconduct in the press and police, which was due to follow the completion of criminal investigations triggered by the phone hacking scandal. Today Eagle said Cameron is “reneging on this promise as though he […]

    Read more →
  • News Striking doctors fight imposition of contracts but Labour “neutral” on walkout

    Striking doctors fight imposition of contracts but Labour “neutral” on walkout

    The head of the body representing NHS Trusts sparked fury by urging Jeremy Hunt to override the views of striking doctors and impose on them the controversial new contracts. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, called for a tougher government approach as around 37,000 medics joined the 24-hour walk-out at 8am today. He spoke out as Labour again condemned the “utter shambles” which led to the strikes, now in their second wave. Hopson urged the Department of Health to […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour must be bolder than the Tories on devolution

    Labour must be bolder than the Tories on devolution

    The launch last week of the new Centre for Cities report Cities Outlook 2016 brought another stark reminder that most cities in the North and Midlands are continuing to punch below their weight economically – with wages in most places north of the Watford Gap falling below the national average, while welfare spending is higher. In Hull, for example, average weekly wages amount to just £376, compared to £539 in Milton Keynes, and £591 in Reading. Even in Manchester – […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured PMQs Verdict: Corbyn shows his passion for housing, despite his relaxed approach

    PMQs Verdict: Corbyn shows his passion for housing, despite his relaxed approach

    Jeremy Corbyn cares about housing. This is obvious. But does he care much about PMQs? At his first meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) as leader, he told MPs that housing would be one of his biggest priorities. Shortly after that, he made the Shadow Housing minister a Shadow Cabinet role, and in John Healey appointed a well-respected figure across the party to the brief. Only last week, the party launched a review, the biggest of its kind in […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit