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Election losses leave Lib Dems severely out of pocket

Michael Crick | 15:36 UK time, Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Last week's huge election losses will deal a huge blow to the Liberal Democrats financially.

For many years now the Lib Dems have automatically levied a 10% tithe on all their elected officials on the income they get from politics - councillors, MPs, MSPs, MEPs, and even government ministers.

The basic allowance for councillor varies between £4,000 and £9,000 a year, depending on the size of council, with many of them getting towards the upper end of the bracket. The party lost 695 council seats, so that means a loss of up to £625,500 a year.

Then there are the 12 Lib Dem MSPs who lost their seats in the Scottish Parliament, each earning more than £53,000 and one AM in the Welsh Assembly earning around £53,000. So this amounts to approximately another £70,000 in lost tithes to the party.

In all, I estimate the financial loss could be as much as £695,500 a year. Every year for the next four years.

And this comes after the Lib Dems suffered the huge blow last year of losing almost two million pounds a year in Short Money, the state subsidy paid to Westminster opposition parties. The overall effect on Lib Dem finances will be considerable, especially for a party which can't fall back on money from unions or big business.

On top of that the Liberal Democrats will lose paid staff - people working for council groups - and the two or so people working for each MSP. OK, much for their work has been constituency related, but don't tell me they weren't also doing lots of work for the party as well. And some of these staff were probably paying 10% tithes to the party too. If half do so, then that may lose the party thousands of pounds, if not tens of thousands.

What's more, many of the 695 Lib Dem defeated council members were effectively full-time councillors, using their council allowances to work all day, every day in politics, partly as councillors and partly as Lib Dem organisers and campaigners. Without their council seats and income, many will now be obliged to go and find full-time work elsewhere. Their state-subsidised labour will hence be lost to the party.

Last week's defeats involved more than just a political loss for the Lib Dems, but the party was also weakened in terms of money, manpower and organisation.

Conversely, Labour will gain from having another 800 councillors, since the party also extracts cash from his it's elected councillors, though not quite on the scale with which the Lib Dems organise it


  • Comment number 1.


    Much fuss about the rich buying dim kids a place in university. Odd - when ALL elections are a matter of shopping for voter-minds with obscene war chests.

  • Comment number 2.

    This is a disaster for the Liberal Democrats, particularly as mentioned, they don't get money from unions.Obviously, the 600 less Councillors is the opposite of the Labour party, though they didn't win what they wanted.

  • Comment number 3.

    money is only money, reputations and principles (or the lack of them) cost much more...

  • Comment number 4.

    2. At 17:12pm 10th May 2011, RJWTimes wrote:
    This is a disaster for the Liberal Democrats, particularly as mentioned, they don't get money from unions.Obviously, the 600 less Councillors is the opposite of the Labour party, though they didn't win what they wanted.

    I see a lot of talk in the blogs about Labour not achieving what they wanted and I'm not sure where this comes from as I can't find any specific comment from Labour saying that they wanted to achieve at least 1000 gains. As far as I can tell this has been a figure concocted by the commentariat. There were 857 gains for Labour, after all.

    I hasten to add that I am not defending Labour's position at all - that is for them to do - but it is interesting to contrast the general tone of op/ed with the reality.

  • Comment number 5.


    It is wrong - Dave has spoken - for the rich to buy advantage, educationally. (I'm blowed if I know where this puts Eton.) And I have no doubt that, bribing an examiner, is not Cricket old boy. Yet POLITICAL PARTIES (those ephemeral bodies - outside the law) are not required to 'pass or fail' by virtue of voter-perception of their performance over a Westminster term (sort of coursework). ON NO. The parties gather vast quid-pro-quo money, from RICH PEOPLE WHO WANT SOMETHING BACK, and proceed to buy the minds of the 'voter-examiners'.

    Sorry if that was a bit convoluted; it boils down to 'BRIBERY and CORRUPTION'. But it's OK, the law has not been passed that can touch them. Now why might that be?

    We can't go on like this.


  • Comment number 6.

    800 odd seats gain, not bad really as we have Ed as leader....

  • Comment number 7.

    LIMITED ED (#6)

    When I first wrote 'limited ed' it was just a joke (limited edition). But Ed shows all the signs of 'interesting' brain wiring. In opposition, on the front bench, his eyes would freeze in a very odd way. When interviewed by Marr, recently, after responding to the welcome, he did that slow drop of the eyelids - very odd. And there is a je ne sais quoi about him. Not bad at all stevie.

  • Comment number 8.

    WE ARE NOT IN THE EUROZONE so why do we have to bail out countries in the zone. We are in debt up to our necks. The tax the government collects is paying off the debt we owe but when I went school two minuses didn’t make a plus. Perhaps all the political parties should use the fantastic wages they earn to buy their way into uni on a math course.

  • Comment number 9.

    Why isn't David Laws going to jail?
    He wrongly claimed over £40,000 in expenses since 2006 and didn't repay it until he either came out or was forced out when his homosexual relationship was about to appear in the Daily Telegrapph in 2010. 
    There were also some interestingly creative property house deals with and for his male friend.
    Others got jail for less money. Why not hi? 
    Oh yes, I forgot - he's a friend of Clegg and Cameron, as well as public school and Cambridge. That's alright then.

  • Comment number 10.

    This story is so good it makes me want to do a jig around the room, lets be hoping they go bankrupt soon and we will be free of their yoke

    p.s. did they ever give that 2.5mil back to the victims of that fraudster who donated cash to them, i doubt it.

    if only we could have a second right wing party the size of the lib dems i could vote for so that were not all trapped between voting for socialist freedom grabbers or the same right old right wing party who you have to vote for, as you cant bring youre self to vote for the left

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

  • Comment number 13.

    The two leads above (12) were submitted here a) to demonstrate that the Lib Dems are not the only major party with financial difficulties, and b) to remind us where Labour traditionally gets most of it's money from, i.e. the Unions, and c) to suggest an explanation for why individuals high up in the BBC News service like our host are happy to raise the matter of the Lib Dems financial difficulties while making no mention of Labour's huge debts.

  • Comment number 14.

    As predicted LibDems were completely decimated - now we know they will be broke too - thanks Mr Crick - so Nick Clegg's intention all along is finally revealed: to allow the electorate to rip the guts out of his Party by staging his Orange Book coup, then cross the floor to join the Tories whilst leaving his old party to bleed to death.

    The LibDem party membership have been well and trully had - Clegg's Orange Book agenda was roundly defeated by the Party, but the mechanism of the coalition agreement allowed him to bin their manifesto and write large swathes of the Orange Book into government policy.

    This was and is a coup - pure and simple - we can now all see that the LibDem Party was and is expendable - they have been slaughtered and now have no way back unless the coalition delivers an economic miracle - ain't gonna happen.

    The only question is how Cameron & Clegg will manage the process of Clegg's defection, no doubt accompanied by the other Orange Book plotters, who will be found nice safe Tory seats, now that AV has also been bined.

    Cameron can then realign the Tories to ditch the eurosceptics and make a grab for the centre right of politics - and I thought politics was a dirty business - now I know just how dirty it really is.

    The politics of the Orange Book are a tiny minority of a minority party - the policies of the Orange Book were never even put before the electorate, but we are now seeing vast swathes of them being implemented because they overlap with the libertarian wing of the Tory Party - IMHO this is clearly what Nick Clegg meant by "New Politics".

  • Comment number 15.

    The Libs are where Labour were in the early 1980s, infiltrated by the millitant left. It took a strong leader to combat the looney left, that tried to make them unelectable. Nick Clegg will have to do the same if he is to rescue the party. Just how liberal are the Lib Dems?
    They have lost more seats to the labour party because people can't see any difference between the two. Whilst the media [BBC] is trying to pit the Dems against the Cons.

  • Comment number 16.

    The Libs wont go bust because the Labour has the same money problems. That is why they tried to talk-up state party funding when they were in power. A set amount of state funding for each party. the Cons will agree to it because they play the short game.

  • Comment number 17.

    For the first time in the recent elections where I live there appeared many TUC posters attacking the coalition and the Lib Dems in particular with blatent alarmist rhetoric.For sure the TUC are Labour just as Labour are the TUC.

    Much as I hate to see alarmist lies passed off as political guidance to voters I did think at least it was an improvement on strikes, a form of trade union gangsterism that I have opposed all my life.

  • Comment number 18.

    Few brief comments....:

    X Lib/Dems WILL go bust because in contrast to Labour and the Tories, they have nobody left who still believe them after all their pledges and promises !
    Who wants to back a dead horse ?

    X There is no reason on earth why the Lib-Dems should not be financed by the unions providing there are still some (Lib-Dems) left after the recent elect. disaster ! Perhaps they should stop acting like a group of political amateurs...and FIRST work out what actually they believe in ?


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