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22nd Aug 2018

Conservatives make twice as much money from dead supporters as living members

James Dawson

The Labour party also now makes 19 times more money from its members than the Conservatives

Figures released by the Electoral Commission today have shown that the Conservative party received over double the amount of money it did from legacy giving as it did from membership fees last year.

Membership fees from living Tory members made up just £835k of the party’s £45.9m annual income in 2017, compared to the £1.69m handed to the Conservatives in the wills of supporters who had passed away. Donations totalling £34.25m made up the bulk of the money the party received.

By comparison, the Labour party received £55.8m in income in 2017. This is thought to be the highest amount of money that any British political party has received in a calendar year, surpassing the £51m raised in 2015 when the party fought a general election under Ed Milliband. A total of £16m of Labour’s funds came from membership subscriptions, with £18m made in donations.

The Labour party’s membership has grown considerably since Jeremy Corbyn became party leader in 2015. Labour is reported to now have a membership of around 550k compared the Tory’s 70k. The balloon in membership means that Labour is now more reliant on fees from ordinary party members than large donations from a small number of individuals.

Meanwhile, the Conservative party continues to face ageing and declining membership as it struggles to reach potential party members digitally. Estimates of the average age of a Tory member this year have ranged from 57 to 71, with its total party members standing at a quarter of the 290,000 it was estimated to have a decade ago.

The Electoral Commission data also revealed that in 2017, the Liberal Democrats raised £9.71m, the SNP had an income of £5.8m, the Greens received £2.47m, and UKIP earned £1.74m.