Socialist Party of Great Britain worth £1.3m, accounts show

By Brian Wheeler
Political reporter

Published
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A tiny socialist party which believes in the abolition of money is sitting on a £1.3m cash and property pile, it has emerged.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, which has 300 members, has cash reserves of £452,250 and property worth £900,000, its latest accounts say.

The party, which was founded in 1904 - making it one of the oldest in the UK - is based in Clapham High Street.

It bought the South London shop premises in 1951 for about £3,000.

But it has benefited from the boom in the capital's property prices, with the value of its assets increasing by £400,000 in a single year, according to its accounts.

'Not a charity'

Media spokesman Adam Buick, who joined the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1962, said he saw no contradiction between its socialist beliefs and its capitalist windfall.

"We live in a capitalist society and you need money to survive in a capitalist society," he told BBC News.

"We are not a charity, we are not giving it away to the poor, we are using it to propagate the case for socialism."

The party, which does not have leaders, aims to use the ballot box to build a mass socialist movement and is well-known in left-wing circles for rejecting the Soviet Union as a failed example of "state capitalism".

It fielded 10 candidates at this year's general election, all of whom lost their deposits, gaining a total of 899 votes. It also contested 2014's European elections in the Wales and South East regions, gaining a total of 6,838 votes.

Explaining the party's stance on money, Mr Buick said: "We don't want just to 'abolish money'.

"What we want is to see established a society of common ownership and democratic control in which money, banks, finance etc will be redundant and so disappear, being replaced by 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs'. What socialism in its proper sense has always involved."

Generous bequests

Mr Buick said the party was regularly approached by estate agents and property developers urging them to sell their headquarters, which is flanked by fashionable restaurants and shops.

He said some members were in favour of selling up and moving to a cheaper, less high-profile location and others had argued in favour of putting the party's money in an investment account, although they drew the line at investing in the stock exchange.

"That would be going too far, although there would be some members who wouldn't necessarily be against that," said Mr Buick.

He said the party had only recently begun to have its accounts fully audited, including an estimate of its property wealth, to comply with Electoral Commission rules.

The party had also benefitted in recent years from generous bequests from members who had died, he added.

An even smaller left wing party, the Socialist Alliance, was recently left £101,254 in a will, which it spent on deposits and campaign funds for Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates at May's general election.

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