David Miliband steams ahead in donations race

Blur drummer and Lord Sainsbury help ex-foreign secretary amass £185,000 in donations.

The Labour leadership race may still be too close to call, but when it comes to donations, David Miliband is streets ahead of his rivals.

Figures released by the Electoral Commission today show that Miliband Sr raked in an impressive £185,000 in June, with Ed Balls trailing on £28,000 (he picked up £15K from the novelist Ken Follett) and Ed Miliband in third place on £15,000. Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott didn't receive any donations over the £1,500 declaration threshold.

Miliband's war chest includes £20,000 from the top Labour donor, Lord Sainsbury (plus £11,188 for office use), £10,000 each from the film-maker David Puttnam and the IT mogul Parry Mitchell, and £6,000 from the Blur drummer, Dave Rowntree. And there's more -- his reported total excludes 94 smaller donations under the £1,500 threshold.

Miliband's fundraising powers help him in two ways. Not only do they allow him to run a well-resourced campaign, they also suggest that, if elected, he could attract and retain the sort of big-money, big-charisma donors Labour has conspicuously lacked in recent years.

In a nod to his Marxist roots, Miliband has pledged to contribute one-third of his donations to a "fighting fund to help Labour win seats back at the next election". It's the sort of smart gesture that shows he is much more than the Blairite clone of popular imagination.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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