Sunday, 7 February 2010

Party funding

Well, how party funding works in my experience, at least!

There's been much hoo-ha this week about SNP fundraising. I'm not going to comment on the news articles, other than to say that I attended Osama Saeed's fundraiser on Tuesday night to support him as our candidate for Glasgow Central. I paid my husband and I in for the princely sum of £15 a head. We were entertained by some heartfelt speeches, and the dinner was pretty tasty too.

Osama is up against the might of the Sarwar dynasty - according to the Electoral Commission register, since 2007, the Labour party have recieved £23,862.03 in catering and staff and £18,596.54 in cash from Mr Sarwar and his family. Muslim Friends of Labour, which has been associated with Mr Sarwar, has donated the quite phenomenal sum of £330,950 to the Labour party since 2005, mostly to fight in Scottish Campaigns. From these sums alone, you may begin to see what the SNP is up against in Glasgow Central.


The SNP is a party new to electoral success, and our fundraising tends to be done the way it always has been - locally, by the party faithful. I remember being blown away at our pre-election campaign conference in 2007 by announcement after announcement of huge sums of money pouring into the party coffers. Nationally printed glossy literature was doled out to campaigns. It was a huge change from the previous elections I was involved in, and it showed just how many more people we could reach with that extra funding.

I have a folder full of leaflets from past campaigns - mostly done on a shoe-string budget, risographed in black and white. If we were pushing the boat out, these would have additional yellow ink, or be printed on yellow paper. This is still the norm for most campaigns. Our candidates tend to have a budget only of what the local branch can raise themselves. For my own leaflets, I pay for the paper, write the leaflets, print and distribute them myself, sometimes with assistance from the local branch.


I attend SNP fundraisers on a regular basis. When we thought that Brown was going to go for an early election, candidates were selected and 'adoption nights' were quickly held.

I have no idea what other parties do, but in the SNP adoption nights are where the candidate is formally endorsed by the branch. There usually follows speeches by the biggest names a candidate can muster (all favours are called in!) and if you're lucky, some other form of entertainment - a ceilidh or musicians. Raffles are a certainty. The most entertaining and eclectic adoption event in recent years was Anne McLaughlin's pre-2007, which featured fancy dress, karaoke, and spacehopper races!


In addition, branches hold regular events. Maryhill hold a racenight - not with videos of horses, but with wee horses and furry dice. On the south side, the Pennycooks have been holding cheese and wine events for over twenty years. Burns suppers are of course a popular fundraising event, although for sought-after speakers I've heard 'haggis fatigue' is an occupational hazard!


Most candidates in Glasgow are choosing to take a second bite at the fundraising cherry - a year after their initial adoption, with the General Election much later than they thought when they were selected, another round of fundraisers are looming.

I doubt if any of these will feature fundraising on the scale of Osama's event, but the difference is this; we are still a small party. We don't have trade unions or a host of wealthy funders. We have a limited pool of elected representatives to call on for donations, and the ones we have are very generous with their time and their money. 38p of every £1 the SNP has is donated by individual members, and 21p comes from membership subscriptions.

The money we raise pays for leaflets and other campaign merchandise, and goes towards the cost of telephone canvassing. The SNP don't pay members to go round the doors to speak to you, or to deliver leaflets. We rely almost entirely on our members to volunteer, on the doorstep and behind the scenes.

The youth wing, the YSI, raise money to allow young members to get around the country to campaign. I do my bit by baking cakes to sell at party conference, and our Conference karaoke also brings in the pennies. In 2007, we campaigned in the North East, the Western Isles, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and many places in between.

I personally have visited Council by elections from Glasgow to Elgin; I do this of my own volition and without so much as petrol money.


I do it, and so many of our members do the same, because we believe in our party and our cause.

It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.


18 comments:

George Laird said...

Dear Alison

"I do it, and so many of our members do the same, because we believe in our party and our cause".

And you make excellent little cup cakes.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Strathturret said...

Well said.

BellgroveBelle said...

Thanks George! They're dead easy to make.

Anonymous said...

I know right now the SNP are trying to pedal the line that Scottish Labour is rolling in money due to the unions because its convenient to them, but nothing could be further from the truth. The SNP has always had more money than Labour, either due to wealthy backers and American donors sending in big checks. This was evident in 2007 when it was plain to everyone that SNP were out-spending Labour in every constituency by a lot.

Most Labour parliamentary campaigns cost about £5000 to run, if that. They could never dream of raising £11 000 in a night like the SNP did on Tuesday. Labour supporters tend not to be wealthy, and students and the unwaged are always reduced significantly. Socials are organised on a shoestring budget and all the cash raised goes towards campaigning. There is no subsidy from the unions for the vast majority of seats.

Labour has always been the least well off party in Scotland, that’s well known. For the SNP to say anything else is a distortion of the truth.

Anonymous said...

'Money isn't everything to a campaign; it's what you do with it that counts!'

Yes indeed - like buy access to the First Minster and Deputy First Minister!

joe90 kane said...

Anonymous is so proud of their support for the Labour Party, hence the reason they're ashamed to associate their own name with it in public. I don't blame them.


Yes indeed - like buy access to the First Minster and Deputy First Minister!
- The usual juvenile tosh from the Strathclyde Uni Labour Party club.


At least the British Trades Unions and Muslim Friends of Labour can say that their money doesn't buy political influence in the Labour Party, because it doesn't.

The Labour Government have done nothing but carry out islamophobic hate campaigns, such as Jack Straw pretending he's terrified of women who wear veils -
Straw's veil comments spark anger
BBC
06 Oct 2006

Or John Reid's stunts in front of camera with a couple of non-representative ideologues somewhere in London -
Reid heckled during Muslim speech
BBC
20 Sept 2006

And what exactly have the Labour tartan tories done for British Trade Unionism, apart from attack it or ignore it?

BellgroveBelle said...

Anonymous - American donors can't send in big cheques! A person must be on the electoral register in this country to be a 'permissible donor' under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

Raising £11,000 on a night is certainly not the norm for any SNP campaign I've been involved with; the description I gave of our fundraising is my own, fairly typical experience.

I'm not sure I buy your pleading of poverty, but I'm not about to ask you for proof - that's entirely an internal matter and I respect that. What I will say is that there are figures to show spending as well as income, and these are publicly available.

According to the Electoral Commission's returns, in Scotland alone in 2005, Labour spent £1,636,450 to the SNP's £193,987

In 2007, Labour spent £1,102,866, the SNP £1,383,462. Not actually as much as you suggest were you to break that down to constituencies.

In the Euros last year, Labour spent £228,703, the SNP £126,170 (and we won!).

Money isn't everything to a campaign; it's what you do with it that counts!

BellgroveBelle said...

Sorry for the moving about of comments there - I deleted the wrong one. As I said before, if it's not relevant, it's going. Spammers can get their own blogs!

Anonymous said...

Ah, c'mon Joe... why so serious?

That's always been the problem with you Trade Union lefties - no sense of humour.

But isn't it funny that when the SNP get mixed up in something scandalicious it's always about food?

For example:

Salmond's £800 recess bill

First Minister backs illegal immigrant

And, of course:
Open for business, and food

Time for a certain someone to go on a diet, methinks. Or keep his mouth shut, at the very least.

Tulloch Gorum said...

"Anonymous - American donors can't send in big cheques! A person must be on the electoral register in this country to be a 'permissible donor' under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000."

Jings, you'd think Labour folk would have remembered that after what happened to poor old Wendy. Speaking of whom, does she still hand out leaflets to weans at primary schools?

BellgroveBelle said...

Tulloch Gorum - of course not, this mob have incredibly short memories...

Yousuf Hamid said...

I must object to the consistent digs that 'joe90Kane' (whoever that is) makes at the Strathclyde Labour Club, the club which I chair as it happens.

I don't know if 'joe90kane' has any actual experience of the club now or in the past but I would assume from his ignorant attacks that the answer is no.

The accusations that members are somehow particularly right wing or subservient to a party line is simply nonsense. The club has a wide range of members from 'old' labour to new labour, where I fit in will be for others to judge!

This week we had Iain Gray come and speak to the club, I wonder if anyone who saw Iain challenged on why we don't back a referendum would say the club was too loyal?

Of course clubs very rarely take positions on particular issues and just like all parties it is a constant struggle to maintain the healthy membership which we currently have.

The arguments against it, however, are bizarre, ignorant and just plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Hamid...

He was referring to my post, and frankly, I've never been near the place.

I went to the real university in Glasgowe - not one of the jumped-up polies. Wouldn't catch me in a Labour club, either.

joe90 kane said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
joe90 kane said...

I must object to the consistent digs that 'joe90Kane' (whoever that is) makes at the Strathclyde Labour Club, the club which I chair as it happens.
- You're right. 'cybernats' only refer to Scots not British nationalists like yourself.

I don't know if 'joe90kane' has any actual experience of the club now or in the past but I would assume from his ignorant attacks that the answer is no.
- Well, you're the chairman, and I've made comments to you on this very blog, which went unanswered once you ran out of New Labour platitudes and spin, see -
It's Norway's Oil
BB
21 Sept 2009

The accusations that members are somehow particularly right wing or subservient to a party line is simply nonsense. The club has a wide range of members from 'old' labour to new labour, where I fit in will be for others to judge!
- Perish the thought that members of the Labour Party agree with those in charge of it, that Iraq and Afghanistan should be attacked, invaded and occupied and that billions of taxpayers money should be wasted in the process of committing these war crimes.


This week we had Iain Gray come and speak to the club, I wonder if anyone who saw Iain challenged on why we don't back a referendum would say the club was too loyal?
- How about challanging him on prosecuting New Labour war criminals or even resigning from the party in protest?
Of course, that would mean he had a conscience of sorts, if he were to do something like that, I imagine.


The arguments against it, however, are bizarre, ignorant and just plain wrong.
- What arguments are these?

People having to put up with pro-Labour juvenile spam blog comments and associating them with a local student Labour club in BB's vicinity isn't really any kind of argument - just some simple attempts at political humour.

Of course, compared with the sort of propaganda, spam and spin put out by Labour and its pals against the SNP, this complaint by you is laughable in itself. Such sensitivity.

Maybe you can get Tom Gordon of The Herald, or some other unionist corporate journalist nobody, to write another story about 'cybernats' and their untruths and uncivilised behaviour on the internet?

BellgroveBelle said...

joe90 kane - I appreciate your comments very much, but as with all others, I would appreciate if you could keep them on topic. I don't see what any university political club has to do with party funding.

joe90 kane said...

I meant it as some local humour BB.
In much the same way Labour activists are afraid to show their faces so they are afraid to leave their names with their blog comments -
If they scrape that barrel much more, they'll go through it...

A local Labour apparatchik is miffed because of some light blog humour - which was in reply, just to say, to a nonsense comment of money given to get access to the Scottish First Minister and his Deputy. As if.

Maybe this local Labouur Party apparatchik might want to comment about the real corruption of members of the Labour Party, local and national, as he seems to be so well connected and so knowledgable?

Michael said...

Cup cakes? Fairy cakes, surely?