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

  • Comment We can be winning the economic arguments, right now

    We can be winning the economic arguments, right now

    Watching our earnest contenders debating exactly how many pro-business credentials they have to display to make Labour electable makes me almost nostalgic for May 2010. We seem to enjoy wallowing in the self-deprecating, self-pitying comfort zone of defeat, happy to leave the Tories to dismantle our public services (again), while we studiously beat ourselves up in public about Ed’s deficit blankout and Liam’s silly note. We’ve forgotten how on that fateful Thursday evening, no-one was more surprised with that exit […]

    Read more →
  • Comment PMQs Verdict: Harman’s hardened Heathrow stance will pay dividends for Labour down the line

    PMQs Verdict: Harman’s hardened Heathrow stance will pay dividends for Labour down the line

    Harriet Harman’s impressive PMQs form continues unabated. Post-election David Cameron may be in too strong a position to really struggle at the weekly bouts, but where previous Labour leaders would have wilted, Harman comes away with what, on balance, we can probably call a victory. She used her first questions to talk about the terrorists attack in Tunisia last week, and ask the PM about what steps the Government is taking to help victims and their families. As always, there […]

    Read more →
  • News Video Dennis Skinner: “No wonder they call him Dodgy Dave”

    Dennis Skinner: “No wonder they call him Dodgy Dave”

    Today Dennis Skinner took to the Commons floor to ask David Cameron a question about miners’ pensions. He said to that Cameron hasn’t “got the guts to help miners”, arguing “no wonder they call him Dodgy Dave”. Skinner was interrupted by Cameron who made this ageist comment, calling the MP for Bolsover “Jurrasic Park.” This isn’t the first time the PM has directed such a remark at Skinner; in 2012 he had to apologise after calling the Bolsover MP a “dinosaur”. You […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Labour back Heathrow expansion but the party are divided over the issue

    Labour back Heathrow expansion but the party are divided over the issue

    Labour today confirmed they will back Heathrow expansion – but the party are not completely united on the issue. Today the Airports Commission, also known as the Davies Commission, has recommended that a third runway should be built at Heathrow. It was thought the Commission might leave room for expansion to take place at Gatwick. However after three years of investigation, the Commission has concluded that it is “clear and unanimous” that Heathrow is the best place for a new […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Labour call for “annual equal pay checks” to see which companies are paying women less than men

    Labour call for “annual equal pay checks” to see which companies are paying women less than men

    Labour have called for an annual equal pay check to see which British companies are paying women less than men. Tomorrow in an opposition day debate Gloria de Piero, the shadow equalities minister, will say that there needs to be an “annual equal pay check”. She will say that this should be carried out by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). As of next year, companies that employ more than 250 have to publish figures showing the pay gap […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit