New Statesman staggers over Lib Dem funding

In a staggering piece on the New Statesman website today, blogger George Eaton – writing The Staggers column – claims that the Lib Dem’s “mounting debts” will force the party to end the coalition ahead of the 2015 general election. Really?

The argument is presented that because the party is running a deficit, it cannot fight the election without the Short Money paid to opposition parties. Really?

The source of this idea appears to be “several in Westminster” – not necessarily Lib Dems, or even people who are well informed.

The author seems not to recognise the absurdity – in public eyes at least – of the Lib Dems leaving government in order to campaign to get into government. He believes that the party was forced to sell its Cowley Street headquarters, when Short Money ended. Actually, Cowley Street was rented and the move was cost neutral.

CORRECTION. As I type this, the reference to Cowley Street has disappeared.

Staggers original

16 August 9.06am

Staggers corrected

16 August 9.35am

The writer appears unaware that Short Money can’t be used to fund an election campaign. Or that funds increase as campaigns get underway. Or that councillors donate money locally, not to the national pot.

Are you getting the impression that this article is not well informed? I certainly am.

Of course everyone in the Lib Dems would be happy if our finances were in a better state. But we are not down and out.

We may find that when we get to 2015, we are not as rich as we’d like to be. But richness of ideas and a fighting spirit are every bit as important as a flush bank account.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at He is Friday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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  • Amen.

  • Geoffrey Payne 16th Aug '13 - 12:47pm

    A good article.
    However if membership continues to go down I do wonder what the party is going to do about it. It looks like something radical needs to be done.

  • Peter Watson 16th Aug '13 - 3:01pm

    “The writer appears unaware that Short Money can’t be used to fund an election campaign.”
    Though surely it means that the rest of the party’s money can be used to fund an election campaign instead of those activities paid for by Short Money. And the Lib Dem Voice article did say the redundancies were because of the loss of the Short Money (with the conservatives having a similar problem). So apart from the deleted Cowley Street reference it doesn’t seem particularly ill-informed. Also, unless there is some truth in rumours about bailing out of coalition for party funding reasons rather than policy, then it is certainly not a topical story, quoting as it does a 3 year old LDV article.

    It makes me wonder if the article is sowing the seeds for some point in the future when the Lib Dems might end the coalition to fight separately from the tories: it will allow opponents of the party to say we’re only doing it for the money.

  • Possibly the idea was to distract attention from Labours money troubles, specifically the story that has appeared in The Sun & The Evening Standard that some of those who lent money under Blair are worried that with Labour losing Union funding they may never get their money back. There was some vague talk of demanding the money now rather than waiting till 2016.

  • paul barker

    As with many of your posts the latest seems to be more in hope than even desperation

  • paul barker 17th Aug '13 - 8:40am

    I will admit to Hope, to me its the defining difference between Libdems & Labour. We look forward with Hope & anticipation while they are forever yearning for some past Golden Age – 1997, 1983 or 1945 according to which faction they belong to.
    As to the story about Labours debts, there was an article on “Labour Uncut” pointing out this particular flaw in EdMs plan, published a few days after it was first announced. They were way ahead of me on this.

  • peter tyzack 17th Aug '13 - 10:48am

    I baulk at the reference to ‘councillors donating money locally’, the comment should be ‘members and supporters’ donating money locally.. Clearly any wider knowledge of the arm-lock put on councillors to pay a local levy is just asking for trouble. Any review of councillor allowances will be hamstrung by the objection to allowances being diverted into party funding, when allowances are there to enable an ordinary person to take up a public role, not to fund their election campaign.
    If we want to achieve public funding of political parties AND fair allowances for councillors we should be careful not to confound the argument in this way.

  • Peter Chivall 17th Aug '13 - 1:45pm

    While I sumpathise with Peter Tyzack in principle, in practice in our Local Party, the small contribution of 5% is used to fund up to 10 Foci per year in Wards of 3,000+ houses. This is more crucial as a public service given that the local Evening newspaper has shut down to be replaced by a Weekly, so much local news would otherwise be unreported. Our local Foci contain little overtly political national news or opinion, but to be fair they do generate a positive attitude to our ‘Focus Teams’, especially at election time.

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