Ed Miliband delivers a speech at the Policy Network Conference held in the Science Museum on July 3, 2014. Photograph: Getty Images.
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How Labour outraised the Tories in 2013

New accounts show the party received more money from a growing membership. 

The parties' annual accounts for 2013 have been published by the Electoral Commission and they contain what to most will be a surprise: Labour outraised the Conservatives by nearly £8m last year. The opposition received £33.4m (spending £27.9m), while the Tories received £25.4m (spending £23.5m). With the Conservatives frequently thought to be rolling in it due to such wheezes as flogging off tennis matches with David Cameron and Boris Johnson to Russian oligarchs, and Labour often described as "on the brink of bankruptcy", the numbers don't fit the narrative. 

So how to explain them? Much of the difference is accounted for by the £6.9m Labour received in "short money", the state funding made available to assist opposition parties with their costs (and named after Edward Short, the Labour politician who first proposed the system). But even if we exclude this revenue source, Labour still raised £1.1m more than the Tories (who themselves received £659,000 from the state).

Of this total, the largest chunk (£8m) came from party affiliates, most notably the trade unions, but Labour also received £5.1m from individual donors (including £1.6m from businessman John Mills), £3.1m from commercial income, £0.6m from fundraising and £5.7m from party members, the number of which increased from 187,537 in 2012 to 189,531. If small donations are included (the Electoral Commission does not record donations below £7,500), the sum raised from members stands at more than £8m, making them the largest source of funding. 

The Conservatives again failed to publish a membership figure, but the number released last year by the party under media pressure put constituency membership at just 134,000. The central party's income from membership (most pay subs to their local association) rose slightly from £747,000 to £749,000. 

After running a dangerously high deficit of £411,000 last year, the Lib Dems moved into the black, achieving a small surplus of £0.2m. The party's membership also increased from 42,501 to 43,451, although this is still well down on the 2010 level of 65,038. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The UK is dangerously close to breaking apart - there's one way to fix it

We must rethink our whole constitutional settlement. 

When the then-Labour leader John Smith set up a report on social justice for what would be the incoming government in 1997, he said we must stop wasting our most precious resource – "the extraordinary skills and talents of ordinary people".

It is one of our party’s greatest tragedies that he never had the chance to see that vision put into practice. 

At the time, it was clear that while our values of equality, solidarity and tolerance endured, the solutions we needed were not the same as those when Labour was last in power in the 1970s, and neither were they to be found in the policies of opposition from the 1980s. 

The Commission on Social Justice described a UK transformed by three revolutions:

  • an economic revolution brought about by increasing globalisation, innovation and a changing labour market
  • a social revolution that had seen the role of women in society transformed, the traditional family model change, inequality ingrained and relationships between people in our communities strained
  • a political revolution that challenged the centralisation of power, demanded more individual control and accepted a different role for government in society.

Two decades on, these three revolutions could equally be applied to the UK, and Scotland, today. 

Our economy, society and our politics have been transformed even further, but there is absolutely no consensus – no agreement – about the direction our country should take. 

What that has led to, in my view, is a society more dangerously divided than at any point in our recent history. 

The public reject the status quo but there is no settled will about the direction we should take. 

And instead of grappling with the complex messages that people are sending us, and trying to find the solutions in the shades of grey, politicians of all parties are attached to solutions that are black or white, dividing us further. 

Anyone in Labour, or any party, who claims that we can sit on the margins and wait for politics to “settle down” will rightly be consigned to history. 

The future shape of the UK, how we govern ourselves and how our economy and society should develop, is now the single biggest political question we face. 

Politics driven by nationalism and identity, which were for so long mostly confined to Scotland, have now taken their place firmly in the mainstream of all UK politics. 

Continuing to pull our country in these directions risks breaking the United Kingdom once and for all. 

I believe we need to reaffirm our belief in the UK for the 21st century. 

Over time, political power has become concentrated in too few hands. Power and wealth hoarded in one corner of our United Kingdom has not worked for the vast majority of people. 

That is why the time has come for the rest of the UK to follow where Scotland led in the 1980s and 1990s and establish a People’s Constitutional Convention to re-establish the UK for a new age. 

The convention should bring together groups to deliberate on the future of our country and propose a way forward that strengthens the UK and establishes a new political settlement for the whole of our country. 

After more than 300 years, it is time for a new Act of Union to safeguard our family of nations for generations to come.

This would mean a radical reshaping of our country along federal lines where every component part of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions – take more responsibility for what happens in their own communities, but where we still maintain the protection of being part of a greater whole as the UK. 

The United Kingdom provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement, and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger, something good, and something worth fighting for. 

Kezia Dugdale is the leader of the Scottish Labour party.