Local party finances revealed as Electoral Commission publish statement of accounts

The Electoral Commission have now published details about the 2012 accounts for all local political parties. Smaller parties with income and expenditure less than £250k were released in May and the larger parties today.

This is a quick post to highlight the numbers with a variety of charts. I’ll leave it to others to start to tell the stories behind the figures … perhaps starting with the size of Sinn Féin’s legal fees and the continued lack of transparency around party donors. It would be interesting to model the size of parties (elected representatives, constituencies and members) against their income and expenditure.

(Note that in the tables and charts below, I’ve used the “Central party” figures and not included Westminster or smaller local association accounts reported to the Electoral Commission. You also need to factor in the cycle of elections which tends to boost party fundraising efforts … as well as their expenditure.)

The first table allows a comparison to be made between the UK-wide parties, SNP and Plaid Cymru and the local Northern Ireland parties.
Major party spending across UK in 2012

Financially Sinn Féin operates on a par with UKIP.

Sinn Fein 2002-2012

For the last two years, the DUP income has greatly exceeded it expenditure and its liabilities have come under control.

DUP 2002 to 2012

Ulster Unionist finances are stable. Locally they’re the only party with more than a £1m of assets, though are also the local party with greatest liabilities.

UUP 2002 to 2012

SDLP 2002 to 2012

Alliance 2002 to 2012

You can compare how each of the main party’s income has varied over the last eleven years …

Income for top five parties 2002-2012

as well as see how relative party income has varied.

Top five party income

The full raw historical account data is available from the Electoral Commission website.

Overall 2012 accounts for all NI registered parties

2012 party accounts above 25000

2012 party accounts 250-25000

The IRSP seem to gone from declaring £0 assets in 2011 to over £22k in 2012. Very odd.

What do you make of Sinn Féin’s high-earning/high-spending approach compared with the DUP’s more modest accounts?

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  • Comrade Stalin

    The IRSP seem to gone from declaring £0 assets in 2011 to over £22k in 2012. Very odd.

    Someone probably died and left them some property in a will.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I presume the donation of elected representatives pay in excess of the “industrial wage” and is subsequent distribution to “activists/staff” counts as income and expenditure, so say £15k per SF MLA and £30k for MP gives you half their income at least. Or am I presuming wrong here?

  • Comrade Stalin

    DR, I think pretty much all the parties run an agreement with prospective MLAs that a certain stipend has to be donated to the party out of their salary.

    Only one party does the $$$-dollar-per-plate fundraisers at the Walforf Astoria, though.

  • michael-mcivor

    Comrade Stalin-

    ” all the parties run an agreement with prospective MLAs that a certain stipend has to be donated to the party out of their salary ”

    Really-do all the other partys make this public like Sinn Fein does-

  • Good to see you back commenting DR. Seems many months and there have been recent complaints, a blog even, moaning about the lack of unionist commenters.

  • son of sam

    I note that Jim Gibney in his Irish News column today ,writes about his holiday home and whether he should take a second holiday abroad this year.All this on an average industrial wage!Has the “average industrial wage ” ever been quantified or defined or is it like the unicorn a mythical beast?!

  • michael-mcivor

    Son of sam-

    “average industrial wage ”

    Do you think that the Irish News does not pay him for his
    column-oh-wait-Republicans should be treated different in your eyes-

  • Drumlins Rock

    Joe, hadn’t been well for a while, but also most times I am tempted to come back I am disheartened by the comments, usually petty squabbles nothing to do with the tread at all. Will still take the odd dip but unless things change can’t see it being the way things were.

    Michael, if SF make it public, what is the industrial wage they pay their MLAs & MPs ?

  • DR,

    Sorry to hear you were unwell. I can sympathise having been close to death for a few weeks last year in intensive care in Istanbul. That led to me changing my moniker from joeCanuck to Mister_Joe.

  • son of sam

    Michael Mc Ivor
    And your point is?— Are you suggesting that the Irish News pays its columnists such massive fees that they can fund holiday homes and second holidays?

  • I wasn’t surprised to see that SF had so much more in the way of assets than the other four major parties. I am curious though if this only includes assets and expenditures for NI. In other words, does the champion of a united Ireland do a 26 county set of books and a 6 county set? And how much off-the-books assets do they have?

    It seems that Alliance gets much more for its money than do the UUP and SDLP. Unless the UUP can get its expenditures and assets back in line it will be headed for real trouble.

  • Granni Trixie

    Because I perceive the UUP currently as v much in decline I am surprised at the income they generate. How do they do it?

  • Neil

    According to the news it’s mostly membership fees for the UUP.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t really understand how the UUP’s reported income has been flat, given that the very beginning of the graph corresponds with the period when the party had six or seven MPs and the end shows a period where they had none.

    tmitch, indeed Alliance has had to run on a shoestring for most of its existence. You’ll see other parties running big billboard ads for example. Not convinced they make much of a difference.

  • Red Lion

    Drumlins Rock,

    you should do your own blog, seems to be the thing to do

  • USA

    Chart 2 above: I would be most interested in how DUP income more than doubled in a short 12 month period between 2010 and 2011. Their liabilities (debt) was also greatly reduced during the same 12 month period. Would seem the flood of cash was used to pay off debts, where did the money come from?