Crispin Flintoff has started a campaign to ensure that CLPs are properly funded. This is an issue that I looked at during the democracy review but CLPs get something like 5% of the membership fees and its paid as a capitation fee. From this, and by observing the effort that goes into fund rasing, I concluded that the CLPs should get more of the membership fees and am happy to help Crispin.

How Labour spend’s its membership fees

CLPs spend their money on administration, campaigning and conference. Administration varies from basic member communication, inc. printing via room rentals to in some cases wages and property costs. There are usually three conferences per annum, with annual conference being a significant cost often beyond a CLP, many of whom fail to send delegates. Elections vary but some need to be funded by the CLP, some require a tax to be payed to the district or regional party. Some have to fund an election every year, some only three out of every five years. Some get financial help from the Labour Group, if there is one, and others from Party HQ, but the biggest and safest and the weakest CLPs get little help.

We could describe the current capitation as 5% of the membership fees. In my article “Brass“,  I proposed raising it to 50%, I have changed my mind and today

  1. I propose doubling it (to 10%) and revising the rules around a floor so that small parties get what they need.
  2. and I would transfer the costs of Annual Conference to HQ

When thinking about the minimum grant, maybe there should be an investment fund where CLPs bid for the money to support projects aimed at growing the membership, building infrastructure (at the lower end, web sites/services, at the higher end, property maintenance) or growing internal fundraising efforts.

If so, I need to check out Crispin’s proposed motion and offer amendments.

There are some de-facto footnotes below/overleaf.


With respect to conference costs I would reduce the delegation sizes for CLPs. I would in exchange ensure that CLPs could ensure a card vote was taken so that larger CLPs weight of numbers don’t get lost in a show of hands, but the biggest tend not to send the full delegation because they can’t afford it. (Another issue on which I have changed my mind is that I would also reduce the conference by one day as most delegates have to take holiday to attend.)

This devolution of money would probably require an increase in the financial controls implemented by each CLP. The Party might need to implement the sort of branch finance systems run by the Unions and require that quarterly returns are made before money is sent to the CLPs. This would be essential if the CLP share was raised to higher numbers such as Crispin’s 50% and would increase the IT and staff costs in finance, legal and governance. The LP income from membership fees in 2018 was £17m and it spent £3m (17½%) on CLP grants and payments . If one were to disburse £8½m it would be irresponsible and illegal to do so without knowing how it was to be spent, but it’s critical that the rules and decisions are transparent and rules based.

In the case where the CLP capitation payments was raised too high, the Party would then need to charge for services that it provides particularly services (usually time) provided by regional offices. Over the last couple of years, the senior roles in regional office have been used as the long arm of the Compliance Unit but the more junior roles are generally engaged in campaigning and are often helpful. The deployment of these people and the grants may often have been informed by factional advantages perceived by the leadership; this needs to stop.

The final issue to consider is the accountability of the Labour Group council levies. In some cases this is a lot of money, in others less so. The HQ payments needs to take account of this source of campaign funds and ensure that the money is spent in accordance with the party’s collective priorities rather than used for reasons of factional control.

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