UKIP and Tories neck and neck in race to raise money from party members

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The UK Independence Party received as much money in membership fees as the Conservatives did last year, new figures show.

Nigel Farage’s party – which has nearly 32,500 members – raked in £714,492 from its members’ in subscription fees during 2013.

Meanwhile, Labour received £33million last year, well ahead of the Tories' £25million, Lib Dems' £7.3million and UKIP's £2.5million. 



New figures from the Electoral Commission show a sharp rise in the amount of money UKIP raises from membership fees

That is a rate of around £22 per member – and a 60 per cent rise in membership revenue compared with the previous year.

The Conservatives, who do not reveal official membership figures but are thought to have around 135,000 members, managed to get just £749,000.

That is less than £6 per member, but the Conservatives say most of their membership fees go to local associations, and little of the money is held by the central party.



Labour, which traditionally gets far more in membership fees, received £5.6million from its own 190,000 members and subscription fees from affiliated trade union members last year.

The annual accounts filed by the parties to the Electoral Commission yesterday will fuel concerns among Tory MPs that members have deserted the party for Ukip.

All political parties are losing members, but Conservatives have lost around half their members since David Cameron became leader in 2005.



UKIP leader Nigel Farage has boasted of making a major breakthrough at the general election, taking thousands of votes from David Cameron's Conservatives

Tory party sources said they had around 135,000 full members who have paid the £25 fee. The average age of members is thought to be around 68.

This compares to 253,600 members who voted in the 2005 leadership election and 1.2million members in the 1980s.

But they around another 50,000 ‘supporters’ who have paid £1 to receive campaign emails.

The annual accounts show the Tories received £25million in total income in 2013, slightly more than the previous year; Labour received £33million, the same as in 2012.

But the Conservatives – who are under fire for receiving money from Russian oligarchs – banked three times as much in private donations - £15million to Labour’s £5million.


Labour received £33million in 2013, well ahead of the Conservatives' £25million, the accounts show

Labour has just received one of its largest private donations under Ed Miliband’s leadership, from property tycoon Sir David Garrard who gave them £500,000.

Sir David was implicated in the 2006 ‘cash for honours’ scandal when he was nominated for a life peerage by Tony Blair. It was blocked after it emerged he loaned the party £2.3million.


His is the third largest donation to Labour since 2010, after businessman John Mills who has given £1.6m.

Andrew Rosenfeld, co-founder with Sir David Garrard of the property development firm Minerva, gave £863,494.

The Conservatives have been on a membership drive in recent months. Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP for Clacton, said signing up supporters for just £1 had been very successful.



Mr Carswell said: ‘We don’t measure success by how much money the members generate but by the support we get. I would rather get the support of a student or pensioner on a low-income than a plutocrat.



‘Paying the £25 fee to join a dining club that meets in the local golf club wearing black tie is always going to be a minority interest. 


But I now have dozens of people in my constituency who have become a supporter for £1 or paid nothing but registered for emails about what we’re doing. That’s the important thing.’

Last year the Bow Group, a right-wing think tank, warned that Tory party membership is ‘dying’ and it could be overtaken by the UK Independence Party in just five years’ time.

The group called for electoral pacts with Ukip locally and for candidates to be selected through ‘open primaries’ where any local resident can run can run as an MP.

Commentators have noted a loss of the ‘country’ Conservative vote to Ukip in some areas, despite the fact the party also attract blue collar ex-Labour voters in other parts of the



At the European election in May, Ukip candidate William, 10th Earl of Dartmouth was re-elected as an MEP for the South West, where Ukip polled 50,000 more votes than the Conservatives.


A Tory spokesman said: ‘It is nonsense to suggest these figures are the whole picture, or we would only get 13 per cent of the money Labour have from members.

‘Labour pool their membership fees centrally. Ours is collected by local associations, and only a small part of it is held centrally.’ 

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