There was more. “In the general election year of 2017 the Labour party raised £55.8m – £10m more than the Conservatives. Labour members, who number about 550,000, generated £16.1m in subs for their party in 2017. A further £18.2m came via donations, partly from online campaigns. As the party’s annual report highlights, on one day alone, during last year’s general election campaign, Labour was able to raise £500,000”.
Fast forward to yesterday, and the same paper was now reporting “Labour’s ruling national executive committee is to discuss plans for large-scale redundancies among staff, with at least 90 jobs at risk, as Keir Starmer seeks to repair the party’s shattered finances”. Why might that be? “Labour’s finances have been hit hard by fighting three general elections in the past six years, as well as a string of costly legal cases, and hopes of a membership bounce after Starmer took over failed to materialise”. Compare and contrast.
In 2018, there was no talk of two General Elections in three years hitting party finances. The reality is that Labour has been haemorrhaging members for some months now, and that the loss - estimated at around 8,000 a month - has had a reverse leverage effect on party finances as many of those departing donated rather more than their subs.
That report from 2018 confirmed that donations exceeded membership income. What is now facing the party was reported by LabourList’s Sienna Rodgers: “In meeting with Labour staff, I’m told David Evans has said the party’s poor financial state is due to lost members and dealing with antisemitism cases. Reserves now down to one month’s payroll. Voluntary severance offered to all NEC-funded staff”.
If only those members were made to believe there was a reason for them to stay, that they were valued and that Labour was still the broad church of old. But instead of enthusing an uncertain rank and file, all that comes out of the leadership is the grim sound of a war being fought against the mythical left, a centrist purification of the ranks.
It is as if winning the Batley and Spen by-election has been read the wrong way by Keir Starmer and David Evans: instead of accepting that victory was down to a combination of throwing everything at the campaign - something that could not be replicated at a General Election - and an outstanding candidate in Kim Leadbeater, a complacent leadership has convinced itself that it is doing something right, and must carry on doing it.
So the attacks on the left will continue. That’s the left, the part of Labour that unfailingly turns out in all weathers to campaign for the party - or did. Combined with leftie-bashing is a total lack of initiative, of purpose. Right now, Labour needs someone to lead - not to prostrate themselves before critics and play meek and inert.
Tory poll numbers are way ahead of Labour not because they’re doing anything right, or better, than Labour. It’s because Labour isn’t doing anything at all. That’s not good enough.
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