Labour party bosses want a £30m war chest to fight the next election, with Sir Keir Starmer stepping up his efforts to attract private donations to the party.
Starmer has increased his appearances at donation dinners over recent months, according to Labour sources, as the party tries to break its financial dependence on the unions.
Labour’s largest union backer Unite has threatened to withdraw all funding for abandoning Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing policies, while several other more supportive unions are cash strapped after Covid.
This has led to Starmer and senior Labour MPs to go on an enhanced donations drive to fund the next election, expected by the end of 2024, which Labour are now raging favourites to win.
Labour insiders told City A.M. that the party wanted £30m to fight the election – roughly double what the Conservatives spent in the 2019 election campaign.
“Keir had an event in his office recently and he told MPs they had to bring two or three potential donors,” the Labour insider said.
“They’re becoming a lot more professional with it.”
Labour’s financial accounts showed the party recorded a £4.8m deficit last year, after a 91,000 drop in members and millions paid out in legal fees.
The party managed to raise £5m in the first quarter of 2022-23, which was more than the Conservatives.
Shadow cabinet ministers have been told over recent months to redouble their efforts, with one veteran MP saying getting donations is “becoming much easier” as Labour’s poll leads grow over the Tories.
A shadow cabinet minister told City A.M. that most of the frontbench are meeting with potential major donors every week.
They said Starmer’s office often pairs shadow cabinet ministers with potential backers.
“A lot of the people donating have a lot of money, but come from working class backgrounds and want to see a Labour government,” they said.
“They really want to see change and want to make it happen – we’re more than happy to facilitate that.”
Labour’s annual conference this year was seen as a major success within the party, with a much larger attendance from business figures and large companies than in previous years.
It also coincided with severe market shocks caused by the government’s mini-Budget, which saw the Pound crash and the Bank of England intervene in bond markets to save on-the-brink pension funds
Labour finished Westminster’s party conference season with record polling leads against the Conservatives.
Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves have also been on a so-called “salmon and scrambled eggs offensive” in the City to sell their vision of the economy.
The pair have met nearly 200 chief executives over the past year, with more donations starting to come in from Square Mile figures.
A City insider said “there may well be enhanced interest in giving donations among some”, but that there were concerns in some quarters about how moderate the party away from its leadership.
“People have been impressed by Starmer, Reeves and a number of others around the leadership, but it was only three years ago that Labour was putting forward Corbyn and McDonnell to lead the country,” they said.
Labour was contacted for comment.