Sat, 28 January 2023

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By Andrew McCormick
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EXCL Lib Dem bosses call second emergency finance meeting as party grapples with cash crisis

EXCL Lib Dem bosses call second emergency finance meeting as party grapples with cash crisis

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Lib Dem bosses are set for a second emergency finance meeting this week after a marathon summit last night failed to resolve concerns.

During a “tense” exchange in London, members of the ruling federal board of the party thrashed out how to contain the cash crisis which is set to see up to a quarter of staff laid off.

It was revealed earlier this month that around 20 aides face the chop after a black hole worth hundreds of thousands of pounds was discovered in party coffers.

Lib Dem chief executive Nick Harvey has put the crisis down to “donation fatigue” after three years of major election and referendum campaigns in Britain - but insiders have raised concerns about financial mismanagement.

Some have accused Sir Nick himself of a “huge lack of oversight” and of not having had “a grip” on the issue - with talks expected to focus on his position at a later date.

But PoliticsHome understands Lib Dem president Sal Brinton does not believe Sir Nick should take the fall for the cash crisis - with some claiming it began under his predecessor Tim Gordon. Sir Nick could not be reached by the time of publication. 

At the meeting last night, board members discussed party spending priorities and budgets for the next three years, during an exchange that overran by some two hours.

“It was very lengthy, it was tense and it was heated at points - but there is some positive stuff coming out of it at least,” one board member told PoliticsHome.

“It was focused on how we get through what has happened and how do we make sure it doesn’t happen again. The conversations about individuals and their future will come along once we’ve sorted all of this out.”

Another meeting scheduled for this Thursday will consider staff losses in more detail - after proposals put forward by Sir Nick were thought to be lacking in sufficient detail.

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: “The board meeting finished at 10.15pm last night without having fully concluded the agenda, therefore there will be an additional meeting tomorrow to finalise our budget setting for the next year."

The Lib Dems have around 80 staff members at their central London headquarters and dotted around the country.

At a meeting this month they were told around 20 could take voluntary redundancy, with compulsory redundancies to come afterwards if needed.

The party has attracted new members since the EU referendum but was left with a £700,000 deficit on its books in 2017.

Figures from the Electoral Commission show the Lib Dems received almost £2m in donations in the first three quarters of 2018 - compared with £5.5m for Labour and £12m for the Conservatives.

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