Balancing the political books

The Electoral Commission has published the latest accounts of political parties. The DUP, UUP and Alliance all report deficits for the year of £50,000, £450,000 and £40,000 respectively. The SDLP and Sinn Fein reported a surplus. Only the DUP and Alliance report their membership level.The individual accounts are here:
Alliance
DUP
SDLP
Sinn Fein
UUP

  • memorystick

    How the hell do the SDLP have so much money?

  • Keith M

    THe DUP seem to be recovering their financial position quite well, which is more than can be said for APNI and esp. UUP.

  • Stephen Copeland

    memorystick,

    Partly because they cut their staff salaries.

    2004: £218,202
    2005: £196,217

    Yet the number of staff remained the same – 11 (3 Admin, 1 finance, 7 operations), in both years.

    So it seems that the SDLP imposed an approximately 10% wage-cut on its own staff. Pour encourager les autres?

  • na

    The figures for the SDLP also show a 15% drop in membership from 2004 to 2005. (based on the drop in membership income)

    (2864*100)/19539.

    Based on subscription rates membership seems to be around the 1,000 level.

  • Rory

    A decrease in working capital and in net funds does not suggest that they have “so much money” to me. Do you have a different view of the accounts that I missed, Memorystick?

    What is impressive is Sinn Fein’s prudent control of their finances. Gordon Brown, this year at least, would be jealous.

  • Na-

    As a social democratic party, the SDLP does not wish to put undue burden upon members to pay fees which they cannot afford. As such, there are various membership rate bands, and the amount one pays will vary depending on one’s circumstances. Therefore, your mathematical analysis would most likely be inaccurate.

    For instance, if 50 people in full-time employment failed to renew their membership, but the party recruited 50 new student members or 50 new people who are unemployed, it will result in lower membership income, but the number of members will remain the same. This scenario is of course theoretical, but illustrates how the margin of error is too large in relation to such rudimentary guestimation.

    Addionally, it must be remembered that parties such as SF and the SDLP have large numbers of ‘latent’ members- i.e. those who do not pay fees or participate in regular party activity, but will support their chosen party around the doors and at polling stations at election time.

  • Alex Kane

    Hi All,

    As regards my own party, perhaps our newly enjoined armed wing in the UVF could hand over some of the cash from the drugs, booze, counterfeiting etc and help sort out the £611,000 overdraft.

    Let’s face it, there must be some bloody point in having these thugs about us?

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

  • Stephen Copeland

    A fairly obvious impersonation there, I fear.

  • eh?

    What is the 14K of ‘out of date cheques credited back’ on the SDLP’s return about?

    Did they previously accounted for cheques but forget to cash them in time?

  • What happens if all the MLA’s have to pay back their salaries for their inactivity in the White Elephant up the Upper Newtownards Road? How many years was it they got “Money for nothing” rem that old Dire Straits song? If they did have to pay back maybe they’d all be in it, Dire Straits.

  • fran

    “but will support their chosen party around the doors and at polling stations at election time.”

    The sdlp have to hire a private company to put up election posters and ditribute literature during elections, so this is hardly the case for the sdlp.

  • seabhac siulach

    “How the hell do the SDLP have so much money?”

    Regarding the funding of the SDLP, it may be of interest to note that they were the ones who made the biggest fuss when it was recently suggested in the house of lords that cross-border funding of parties be restricted…suggesting that most of their money is coming from the 26 counties…
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/5178432.stm
    Do they receive sizeable donations from the Irish trade unions which are organised on a 32 county basis? Or are they being funded by rich free staters? It would be interesting to know what party, organisation or individual is prepared to fund a party restricted to only 6 of the Northern counties…(and not doing much for the workers).
    They do receive impressive political support from the 26 counties with Fianna Fail ministers from the Dublin govt. willing to campaign on their behalf, e.g., Durkan in Derry and Eddie McGrady in Down…

  • mnob

    SS, I’m not sure they get any/much funding from the unions – at least in NI. UK law means that unions have to have a seperate fund for political activities which union members choose to pay into or not. AFAIK (and I’m a bit hazy on this its been a while since I worked in a company that actually recognised unions) the law in NI is an opt in law, and many people I associated with most definitely did not opt in as it was perceived the money went to a party which did not organise in NI (ie the UK Labour party).

  • seabhac siulach

    mnob:

    I mention the unions as I was under the impression that the SDLP (taking the Labour part of their name) was the representative of the unions in the 6 counties…hence the reason why the Brit. or Irish Labour parties do not campaign in the statelet.
    I could be hopelessly wrong, of course…
    But, if so, which main party is supposed to represent the unions/the workers in the six counties?

  • Stephen Copeland

    seabhac siulach,

    I could be hopelessly wrong, of course…

    You are.

    But, if so, which main party is supposed to represent the unions/the workers in the six counties?

    LOL

    Such touching naivety.

  • seabhac siulach

    Stephen Copeland:

    “Such touching naivety.”

    Yep, a childlike innocence…

    The SDLP are affiliated with the ‘Socialist International’ and also the ‘Party of European Socialists’…that is, they are affiliated with the Irish and Brit. labour parties…so obstensibly they should be doing that job, i.e., being affiliated with the unions, like their leftist cousins all over the world…

    I believe my question was valid, despite the implied ‘naivety’…and sure aren’t the innocent questions the best ones?

  • Rory

    Alex’s wry comments on the ‘armed wing’ of the UUP must surely make moderate unionists nostalgic for those bygone days when the armed wing of the Ulster Unionist Party was the RUC, their ‘B’ Specials and later the UDR. Them ‘Good ol’ boys’.

    On these balmy summer evenings on the North Down Gold Coast I can imagine that ante bellum harkening back to the glory days. while the hothouse magnolia tree blossoms and the mint juleps, brought to the terrace by the Latvian maid, tinkle in their icy glasses.

    I feel quite weepy myself. I think I’ll just pop off and pop on a Stephen Foster medley.

  • Resolve

    Rory R***N? lol i know it’s you… 🙂 e mail me…

  • Rory

    What is the 14K of ‘out of date cheques credited back’ on the SDLP’s return about?

    asks, Eh.

    It does not represent unaccounted for income, Eh. Rather it represents a write back of cheques issued for payment of liabilities inurred in the previous year but which had not cleared the bank at the end of that year – but then, for one reason or another, the cheques were either returned uncashed or were cancelled before they could be cashed.

    The more interesting question might be “To whom were these cheques first issued and why were they subsequently not cashed?”.

    I think we should be told, don’t you?

  • Rory

    Rory R***N? lol i know it’s you… 🙂 e mail me…

    Posted by Resolve on Jul 18, 2006 @ 05:47 PM

    I am at a total loss as to this ‘R***N’ business, Resolve. If you have something you wish to ask – my e-mail address is below.

  • elvis parker

    Is the ‘fundamental uncertainty’ mentioned in the UUP accounts just accountant speak for ‘dont blame me if it goes belly up’?

  • Rory

    I was unable to spot a reference to a ‘Fundamental uncertainty’ in the DUP accounts, Elvis. But that has more to do with my eyesight than anything else. If you would tell me, please, where the reference might be found, I might be able to help.

    Trust me – I am an accountant. (Just kidding. I’m retired and can now devote my energies to being a full-time Red.)

    The term most probably does not contain the sinister import that a layman might import to it.

    But, if it does……

  • fair_deal

    Rory

    Elvis is referring to the last paragraph on Page 9 and it is the UUP’s accounts NOT the DUP.

    My layman’s reading is basically that if one of the three main cash-flow strands, from members, bank overdrafts/loans or Commission grants drop significantly or stop then the UUP is not a going concern.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Rory: “On these balmy summer evenings on the North Down Gold Coast I can imagine that ante bellum harkening back to the glory days. while the hothouse magnolia tree blossoms and the mint juleps, brought to the terrace by the Latvian maid, tinkle in their icy glasses.”

    Sounds like a football weekend at Ole Miss… ‘cept no need for a hot-house.

    What sort of people bring linens and 17th century silver to what amounts to a tailgate party is beyond me.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Fair_Deal: “My layman’s reading is basically that if one of the three main cash-flow strands, from members, bank overdrafts/loans or Commission grants drop significantly or stop then the UUP is not a going concern. ”

    What audited financial statements would call “a qualified opinion.”

  • Rory

    Fair Deal,

    Thank you. I see it was the UUP’s accounts to which Elvis referred. Apologies to Elvis. Your own layman’s reading of the note sits easy with me.

    Dread Cthulu,

    If I may address your concerns – all opinions are qualified by ignorance. Copernicus understood this well. The note however does not carry any import of ‘qualification’ of the accounts which were signed off by the auditors, but rather a simple frank admission of failed expectation as may have been expressed in earlier years.

    In that sense – and I know of no other – the note reflects open accountability.

    I am no friend of Ulster Unionism but I prefer to address my opponents on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. On this matter the UUP report strikes me as merely being correct and above board.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Rory: ” The note however does not carry any import of ‘qualification’ of the accounts which were signed off by the auditors, but rather a simple frank admission of failed expectation as may have been expressed in earlier years. ”

    My bad — disclosure, not opinion. Problem of darting in to read and post and darting out.

    Still… the UUP as a questionable going concern? Interesing.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Fair_deal,

    Thats sounds about right to me as well. The UUP has a very significant cash flow problem. By my reading the accounts are being drained quickly and cash flow in is not replacing them. The income expenditure figures look bad as well. Income seems to be declining as well. The cash flow situation was £169,000 down last year so the debt ratio is just expanding to sustain operations. The overdraft is getting unmannageble its running at a higher figure than total income. Someone needs to sit down and think long and hard about debt restructuring. The 600,000 is going to need to be financed on long term debt to ease the cash flow pressure. Of course its bad to be financing in decline rather than to cope with a cash flow problem from rapid expansion but it is what it is. What a mess. I have never actually seen such full account before from the UUP and thats was in 10 years of membership.

    Oh yes and Alex is so right. There was no strategic or decent politcal reason to pair with the PUP/UVF and that is before you consider the morality concerns of partnering an active criminal organisation. So what exactly was it we keep asking Sinn Feing to do?

  • Bushmills

    Can we expect staff lay-offs and the removal men at CunningPlan House soon? How sad.

  • Greenflag

    Well said DSD

    First law in business -You live or die on cash flow . Sales/Income is nice , profit is even nicer but it’s cash flow that determines whether or not your business or politcal organisation will survive .

    The UUP may need to ask all members to contribute to a special debt relief fund say 50 or 100 pounds each . For everything else there may be Mastercard but surely the Union is priceless for members ?

    ‘I have never actually seen such full account before from the UUP and thats was in 10 years of membership’

    Second law in business . When they start hiding or fudging the numbers it’s a good indication of trouble . Who said Enron .

  • elvis parker

    Looks like ‘the party’s over’ Dunc. Will you be jumping ship like Mr Bowles?

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Elvis,

    Well I jumped the Atlantic and have been an active Democrat but my heart remains with the Union and the UUP. I wish them well and have offered help several times (to no avail) but i do despair of the leadership and direction of the party at the present. If the Assembly is closed down at least they won’t have to face the humiliation of an Assembly election and a further reduction of seats. There is so much leadership work to be done in the UUP and no leaders anywhere to do it. For those who want to defend Reg he is an authority not a leader there is a distinction between leadership as an activity and the exercise of authority, i.e President Bush is an authority who could be involved in the activity of leadership, but he hasnt been so far. Same unfortunately goes for Reg as far as i can tell from this side of the Atlantic. I would love to still help out the UUP and perhaps one day the opportunity will arrive assuming that the party doesnt go bankrupt and collapse completely.

    On that front another way to improve cash flow is to reduce expenses and 251,692 seems a rather hefty wage bill for the 4 members of staff mentioned in the report. Whilst i dislike downsizing and the abuse of human resources it may be unavoidable in this instance, or at least a negotiated across the board wage reduction might be neccessary to avoid reduncancies. Some tough decisions ahead i think.