Lib Dems publish latest accounts: £439k surplus and membership up to 43,451

Libby - Some rights reserved by David SpenderThe latest set of accounts for the Lib Dems have been published – I’ve uploaded it at the foot of this post. (You can compare it with last year’s here.) Here are 5 points that struck me I read through the document.

1) Party bounces back from deficit to surplus

Last year, the Lib Dems recorded a deficit of £410k (described then as a “disappointing result”). This year (ie, the year ending 31 Dec 2013), the party has recorded a healthy overall surplus of £439k, with £7.3m of income and £6.9m of expenditure.

2) Party membership is up

As the party has been keen to trumpet, Lib Dem membership figures are creeping up again: “Unusually for a party in government, the Party increased its membership by almost 1,000 over the course of the year. The increase was broadly based across the whole country and in every type of seat.” In 2012, membership stood at 42,501. It’s now 43,451, an increase of just over 2%.

3) Donations were up significantly

In 2012, the Lib Dems recorded £1.53m of donation income. In 2013, that soared to £2.54m. It will be interesting to see how resilient the Party’s fundraising income will now be following Chief Fundraiser Ibrahim Taguri’s departure to focus on his campaign to take over Sarah Teather’s Brent Central seat. Most other sources of income showed little change from 2012.

4) Big increase in campaign expenditure

In 2012, the Party spent just shy of £850k on campaigning. In 2013, that jumped to £1.3m. That increase was offset not only by donations, but also by an additional net c.£100k in conference income and a saving of £60k following the decision to pull the plug on Liberal Democrat News newspaper.

5) We’re massively out-spent by Labour and the Tories

If the Lib Dems’ healthier financial position is a source of some relief, it’s worth remembering what the Party is up against. Our income for the last year of £7.3m is dwarfed by Labour’s £33.3m and the Tories’ £25.3m. What is achieved on such meagre resources — thanks to the hard work of volunteers and paid staff in local parties as well as HQ — is deeply impressive.

Here’s the full Lib Dem Statement of Accounts…

Liberal Democrats Statement of Accounts 2013

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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This entry was posted in News and Party policy and internal matters.


  • I was surprised to see how much income the party has and how much it spent, clearly as a party we are no longer getting more votes per pound spent than the other parties :-((( Good to see a surplus back even if it merely cancels out the previous years deficit. There is no chance of us winning Brent central so it is a shame to lose such an effective fundraiser.

    Brilliant for a less than 1000 increase in membership – (split between 633 constituencies) spun as “broadly based across the whole country and in every type of seat”.

  • Money in the bank, just over one member a constituency rise, probably a person in each who has rejoined after a telephone call from HQ. BUT VOTES, COUNCILLORS, MEPS AND SOON MPS down boy down.

  • Membership, while up compared with 2012, is still well down on the 2010 level of 65,038.

    The most surprising figure has to be that Labour generated more funds than the Tories.

  • This is good news. Now who is taking credit for it and who is really responsible.

  • Given the problems parties have had in the past with the interests of donors or their record/reputation, it would be as well to know the source of the additional £1 million received in donations. It is particularly important for parties involved in government to make information about the identity of donors of large amounts (whether in cash or in kind – for instance by paying the wages of a researcher) and I hope that details of large donations (say of £5,000 or above) are also in the public realm.

  • @MartinB

    I’d assume that the Labour figure is thanks to the Short Money.

    And hey, at least it’s up on where it was!

  • Tony Dawson 29th Jul '14 - 8:16pm

    “In 2012, the Party spent just shy of £850k on campaigning”

    Pull the other one.

    What evidence is there of this Party ‘campaigning’? Supporting elections, maybe. Which is an entirely different matter.

  • paul barker 29th Jul '14 - 8:42pm

    The big reason our rivals have so much money is that they get involountary donations taken from the pockets of Shareholders & Union members.
    A quick question for Steven, do we know what Our Membership is now, rather than last December ?

  • David Evans 29th Jul '14 - 8:56pm

    Bearing in mind that this tiny increase in membership has been on the basis of a massive financial incentive to constituencies (e.g. £100s of pounds for just one new member) and seems to be largely spouses and other close relatives of senior local members, this really is desperate stuff.

    Until Nick goes, things will continue to be dire.

  • Kath, you can see all political donations of over £2000 on the Electoral Commission web site; go to

    For the most recent quarter, the biggest donations were:

    Unite £1,839,838 to the Labour Party
    Sir Michael Hintze £1,506,500 to the Conservative Party
    Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers £692,311 to the Labour Party
    Mr Colin Weir £500,000 to the Scottish National Party (SNP)
    Mrs Christine Weir £500,000 to the Scottish National Party (SNP)
    UNISON £420,049 to the Labour Party
    Mr James R Lupton £257,500 to the Conservative Party

    Liberal Democrat donations were much smaller! You can search for them on the Commission’s web site.

  • Frank Booth 29th Jul '14 - 9:33pm

    Interesting that the membership is up. Does this tend to happen before general elections?And what is the profile of the new members? Old members who ‘ve decided they can’t let THEIR party go, or a new sort of member? I have visions of a whole number of Clegg clones joining the Lib Dems who would never have dreamed of joining the party before.

  • Frank Booth 29th Jul '14 - 9:42pm

    Paul Barker – I believe union members can opt out if they wish. On corporate donations, what do we actually know? Are there actually British plcs donating money to the Tories or anyone else? It seems unlikely to me.

  • “The big reason our rivals have so much money is that they get involountary donations taken from the pockets of Shareholders & Union members.”

    All union members can bail out of supporting the political levy, as I’m sure you already know. Don’t start chucking cheap slurs around, otherwise some of the past LibDem funding will be raised in this conversation, and it’s not one you will profit from.

  • Stephen Donnelly 29th Jul '14 - 11:09pm

    Franke Booth : I suspect that we have just got better at signing up members rather than leaving them as supporters. I note that membership income is actually down.

    Why is there a large increase in Events income?

  • Stephen Donnelly
    A lot of corporate input – stalls at conference, more meals with corporate entrance fees paid etc? Reflective of the corporate wish to have conversation with ministers etc? The New Politics? I don’t think so.

  • So – we received no donations above £2000. Perhaps we received biggish donations in the £500-£1900 range. It seems reasonable to deduce that our average “biggish” donation can’t have been much more than £1000.

    Yet we did receive £2.54M in donations, which is equivalent to 2540 lots of £1,000. Yet we only have 43,451 members.

    So, on these figures, something like one in every sixteen members has actually also donated £1000, not just paid a membership fee. The figure of 2,540 biggish donors is, of course, also a lot bigger than the numbers who attend Conference.

    Well – Either we have a massive ghost army of biggish wealthy donors. Or there is something odd.

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Jul '14 - 10:50am


    Well for a party with an income of £7.3 million – one might have hoped that somewhere on the party website there would be an official statement about what is going on in Gaza, but no, while large parts of the rest of the country are discussing it, the Lib Dems are very quiet.

    That is complete nonsense, since you need only look at the various threads on the subject in this site to see Liberal Democrats making a lot of noise about what is going on in Gaza.

    So when you write “the Lib Dems” here, do you actually mean “the Leader of the Liberal Democrats and other official spokespeople” rather than its members? As I have said many times, we are not a Leninist Party, so there is a distinction between these two. I am sorry that most people in the country these days just seem to assume that all political parties run on the Leninist model and so assume that whatever The Leader says is The Party Line, and whatever any member says is also The Party Line and must have been dictated down to them by The Leader because no member would ever dare to go against or even wish to go against The Party Line as set by The Leader.

    Various opinions have been expressed on this matter within the party as a whole. Although almost every Liberal Democrat member opposes the violence from both sides, there is a great variety as to the extent to which individual members wish to highlight and condemn the violence from one side while partially excusing that from the other. Actually, comments HAVE been made by The Leader of the Liberal Democrats which I myself feel are rather more defensive of the actions of one side than of the other, but just because The Leader had made those comments does not mean they are The Party Line.

    Given that there is such a range of positions among individual members, I feel it would be silly to try and establish a Party Line on this matter. We are a liberal party, not a Leninist party, so a variety of positions should be permitted, and members should not feel forced to deny their true feelings on the matter due to there being some sort of official Party Line on the subject as you seem to be calling for.

  • “So – we received no donations above £2000.”

    No – there were certainly donations above that amount – the largest appears to have been £99,000 from the estate of the lady who left half a million to “whichever government is in office”, about which there was all that fuss last year.

  • Sorry – I misread David Wright’s post, which I wrongly took to be listing all political donations above £2000.

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Jul '14 - 11:36am

    Matthew Huntback
    “So when you write “the Lib Dems” here, do you actually mean “the Leader of the Liberal Democrats and other official spokespeople” rather than its members?”

    Actually, as Caracatus says “one might have hoped that somewhere on the party website there would be an official statement about what is going on in Gaza” (emphasis added), I think it’s pretty obvious what he means by “the Lib Dems” later in that sentence. The fact that lots of members of the party are obviously talking — or in many cases ranting at great volume — about the subject doesn’t excuse the party for official silence. (Though whether any good would be done by the Lib Dems as a party adding their twopence to the current sound and fury is another question.)

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Jul '14 - 11:38am

    Aargh, sorry – misspelled your name again, Matthew!
    For the nineteen million, two hundred and seventy-seventh time, can we please have a preview/edit function for comment posters? Would it be terribly difficult?

  • Stephen Hesketh 30th Jul '14 - 12:50pm

    @Malcolm Todd30th Jul ’14 – 11:38am

    Malcolm … it may be worth you mentioning this very sensible request on Monday’s “Some reminders about commenting on Liberal Democrat Voice” thread.

  • Matthew, it is all very well saying that the Leader’s line is not necessarily the party line, but it seems to me various people in the party – Jenny Tonge, David Ward and I am sure others have been subjected to party discipline for apparently expressing views a long way from his line.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Jul '14 - 4:00pm


    but we did used to manage to have a party line on say – opposing the war in Iraq (depite some people like Emma Nicholson supporting it).

    Well, that was easier when there was a big majority in the party in favour of a particular position. But in this issue, as Tim13 has hinted, andI did myself, there is such a wide diversity of views that any attempt to establish an official party line is likely to leave many members very unhappy about it. So what would such a line actually mean? That those unhappy with it would be forced to support it? I hope not.

    Sadly, what the leader says and thinks – eg people should pay tuition fees, the bedroom tax is a good idea – becomes the party line. He is deputy Prime Minister after all.

    Well, it shouldn’t be like that, and we need a model of political party which doesn’t work like that, and a leader who supports such a model. That is, we need to re-establish liberal democrat politics (small-l, small-d) instead of accepting and contributing towards the drift to the Leninist model.

    One thing we need to establish is that what comes out of this government is quite obviously NOT what the majority of Liberal Democrats would want, and therefore should not be seen as The Party Line. It is a government which is five-sixths Conservative and one-sixth Liberal Democrat, and has policies which broadly reflect that. Accepting those policies as a compromise is not the same as saying they are ideal, what we would do if we had a majority Liberal Democrat government. Again, we need a party leadership which is happy to make this clear. If the Parliamentary Leader cannot do that, we have another Leader called the “President” whose job it should be to do that. So, has the person currently in that role managed to do his job there?

  • Just out of interest would those responsible for this site tell us how much it would cost to introduce a review before posting function – if so a nice bit of crowdsourcing fundraising could pay for it and I would be happy to contribute and hopefully all those frustrated misspelled posters too…

  • I think the income in advance may relate to Conference Office activity – bookings taken for the following March’s Spring conference. I understand last year was an unusually good one for bequests, and these things tend to happen fairly randomly.

    Of course that means last year wasn’t such a good one for the donors concerned.

    PS I’ve often suggested that I’m worth more to the Lib Dems dead than alive!

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