“That clinking, clanking sound”, as Cabaret puts it – money, as uncomfortable a topic as it may be for political parties and campaigns is still essential to the process. It doesn’t guarantee you victory, but its absence can doom a campaign to defeat.
So it’s interesting to note two bits of news on political finance today.
‘The official pro-UK campaign has publicly called for Scots to stop giving it money after a flurry of donations following Alex Salmond’s TV debate defeat.
A message posted yesterday on Better Together’s website announced it had “secured enough funding” to meet campaign spending limits and thanked the “generosity” of its backers.
The group is also understood to be removing an online form that allows anybody to give money to the campaign to save the Union.’
It’s an impressive statement to be able to make – and will further rattle Salmond and the SNP, who are still struggling to recover from last week’s debate drubbing by Alistair Darling. The Yes campaign benefited from a freak of fortune, when the Weirs, independence supporters, won the Euromillions and agreed to bankroll much of the effort. This is, therefore, a positive augur for Better Together that they have managed to convert a TV victory into an advantage on the ground.
It’s also a reminder that, done properly, centre right political campaigns ought to be able to attract large numbers of small donations. If you can find something that connects viscerally, and demonstrate how a donation will secure something the donor cares about, then a web form does have the capacity to bring in sizeable amounts – Westminster normally doesn’t bother to do so.
Speaking of Westminster, here’s the second bit of fundraising news:
Tories trounced Labour in the money stakes in Q2 of 2014, raising £7,185,709 to Labour’s £3,761,615.
— Michael Savage (@michaelsavage) August 13, 2014
A crucial gap between the Conservatives and Labour has opened up – while CCHQ has cleared all its debts and run a highly effective fundraising drive, Labour are still stuck owing millions, struggling with the political price demanded by the unions in return for money, and embarrassed that their predictions of an Obama-style flood of small donations have failed to come true.
Money isn’t everything – you can have a fortune, but if your ideas and your machine aren’t up to the job then you will still lose – but, as my grandma used to say, it’s a good earthly friend.