On thing we did really well for the 2019 general election – raising shedloads of dosh

Embed from Getty Images

There is nothing quite as wonderful as money.
There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash.
Some people say it’s folly,
But I’d rather have the lolly.
With money you can make a splash.

Eric Idle (Monty Python), “The Money Song

If you haven’t already done so, it is worth having a look at the Electoral Commission’s reports of Q4 donations to the political parties.

The Liberal Democrat report is particularly fascinating.

Between 1 October and 31 December 2019, the party received donations totalling £13,372,664 from 433 donors. That is more than the Labour party received in the same period.

A staggering 60% of that total, £8 million, was given to the party by one person, namely Lord (David) Sainsbury, a Labour peer (on leave of absence since 2013) and former supporter of the old SDP. This was the biggest single donation to a political party in UK history.


It would be interesting to know what Lord Sainsbury’s thoughts are as to his donation visa vis our performance in the December 2019 general election.

You can see the list of people who donated large amounts to the party, during this period, here.

It is interesting that just 13 people gave the party £10,320,000 or an eye-watering 77% of the total money received.

We should give praise to the party’s fund raising team. Like it or not, political success often depends on raising money. And our team did that fantastically well for the 2019 general election.

In our LDV post-mortem debates about the general election campaign, there has been focus on how a sort of “group think” emerged where many people in the party genuinely thought we were going to win 100+ seats and that Jo Swinson would be swept to power in Number 10 on a tsunami of Remain votes, immediately revoking Article 50 on day one.

So, a lot of people worked their socks off and acted on the basis of this group think.

But what is perhaps more significant, is that people with deep pockets were convinced of this narrative also, so much so that they stumped up significant wodges of hard-earned cash.

They deserve our thanks for their great generosity.

Spare a thought for Lord (David) Sainsbury. It seems that the sum of £8 million is his dosh slice of choice. He also gave £8 million to the remain cause in the 2016 EU referendum.

No doubt he was motivated by remain passion when he gave us £8 million in 2019.

So, the poor (or rich) fellow has given at least £16 million to try to get Britain to remain in the EU and, oh dear, we haven’t.

Coming soon to an Electoral Commission website near you: How our shedloads of dosh were spent in the 2019 General Election campaign

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Wow, that works out at over £ 1.215 million per M.P. It leaves one wondering whether said donors will want to repeat their generosity next time on a value for money basis.

    That’s as much as it cost to build eight Dreadnoughts in 1908 (not counting inflation of course) ……. and the Dreadnoughts packed a bit more punch.

  • I agree the fundraising team deserve a lot of credit for this. Its a shame our campaign team didn’t spend it better, but that’s not the fundraisers’ fault. Lets give credit where it’s due.

  • Labour were ultimately weakened by their big donor links and the Lib Dems should be very wary of how this all looks. The scratch my back boys always hover in the background it’s just how things work.

  • Where on earth did anyone think we were going to get 100 MPs. Where was the common sense and reasoning?

  • Tony Greaves 31st Mar '20 - 5:49pm

    I rather think that Lord Sainsbury’s donation ranks second to all the money spent by Bloomberg on his Presidential bid as the biggest waste of money on political campaigns for a long time. All a rather good illustration that the quantity of spending in politics still does not completely count for more than the quality of what it’s spent on.

  • @ Joe Bourke Good to hear you, Joe. One day I’ll go to watch Brentford play HTAFC with you…… hopefully in the directors box ….assuming I get through this CVD isolation business. We certainly need a bit of light entertainment.

    Given our house overlooks the Forth, that I’ve spent time in the Orkneys, and my Masters had a bit to do with the First World War, I know a wee bit about the Dreadnoughts.

    Here’s your starter for ten : which Dreadnought was launched by Mrs Asquith at Devonport and when ? Here’s a clue, the launch is on you tube, but you can’t use Wikipedia.

  • Wow, for 13 million pound you could almost buy 1/6 of Paul Pogba (he cost Man Utd 85 million!).

  • And then we proceeded to waste most of it.

  • Rodney Watts 1st Apr '20 - 4:08pm

    @Silvio: “Labour were ultimately weakened by their big donor links and the Lib Dems should be very wary of how this all looks. The scratch my back boys always hover in the background it’s just how things work.”
    @ Tony Greaves ” …Lord Sainsbury’s….donation ranks second to ….biggest waste of money spent on political campaigns ….

    So true gentlemen! Lib Dem leadership first helped to vilify Labour by amplifying the grossly exagerated claims of anti-Semitism and then failed to engage with labour to ensure we had a people’s vote before the GE.
    @ Michael Meadowcroft. Your comment highlights a serious concern involving the funding requirements nationally and locally. In fairness to HQ, their receipts according to the Electoral Commission were approx £700k up to 10th Nov, +£1m to 30th Nov and then in 5 days around 5th Dec + £9.1m (including the Lord Sainsbury’s £8m.
    However the question for me is do I renew membership?

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

This post has pre moderation enabled, please be patient whilst waiting for it to be manually reviewed. Liberal Democrat Voice is made up of volunteers who keep the site running in their free time.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 28th May - 12:42am
    Peter Martin, I think Jimmy Stewart's scriptwriter was probably quite prescient. Money circulates in a country as long as there is trust that it will...
  • User Avatarsuzanne fletcher 27th May - 9:28pm
    I've been listening since Adam was born, I was in hospital having Alex at the time. I rather like the lulling monologues, don't like exciting...
  • User AvatarSeethingWells Action 27th May - 9:15pm
    Thanks Liz. It’s an important site and thanks for publicising this vital cause. Lib Dem Voice readers can find out more of the history and...
  • User AvatarPeter 27th May - 9:09pm
    Forgive my ignorance, what is pansexual, if not bisexual?
  • User AvatarMohammed Amin 27th May - 8:56pm
    I am afraid that this is a type of "magical thinking" that is often seen. All tax is tax, and all taxes are eventually borne...
  • User AvatarGary J 27th May - 8:55pm
    I found Layla Moran's self-description as "pansexual" both amusing and pretentious. In general politicians talk too much about their private lives. If she felt the...