Labour First Going Broke?
I think it's safe to say that Luke Akehurst hasn't had a good time recently. In September, his cherished pipedream of regaining a place on Labour's NEC was dashed - just a few days later, his more recent ambition to see the Labour leadership humiliated over the IHRA definition debacle met a similar fate.
Although given the evidence of recent years Luke must surely have become used to losing, nevertheless a fourth NEC election defeat in a row must have been a blow, even for a candidate who apparently just doesn't know when to quit. Of course we send our commiserations and best wishes to Luke for whatever he decides to do in the future.
Following his crushing disappointments, he took an ill advised Twitter-pop at Chris Williamson's Democracy Roadshow event in Streatham, describing those who attended as 'a room full of old white Trots'
For which, unsurprisingly, he was roundly schooled both by ourselves and others
But it has now emerged that Luke's problems are not just personal - his beloved Labour First looks to be in danger of crumbling about his ears due to a distinct lack of, well, support - and by that we mean of course money.
The organisation, founded in 1988 and proudly just about managing since then, looked to be going from strength to strength in early 2017, when they were able to hire a full-time 'organiser' tasked with undermining the 'hard left' and the Labour leadership on a daily basis. They gleefully announced they had been able to fund his £40k a year salary through donations from supporters.
Their choice was staunch centrist and sometime country singer Matt Pound. That's him below on Newsnight and (right) with his band, Lieutenant Leek...
It has to be said that, considering his stated role, Matt did not entirely cover himself in glory during his first year in post - given the huge increase in support for Jeremy Corbyn's leadership both in the lead up to and since the 2017 general election. But it seems his efforts could be in danger of being rewarded with unemployment.....
In March 2017, Labour First was registered as a limited company - directors, 3 (Luke Akehurst, Keith Dibble, and Midlands MP John Spellar - investigated earlier this year for alleged racist remarks to a constituent) employees, 1 (the aforementioned Mr Pound).
Everything looked promising. They were going for broke. A scant 18 months down the line, however, it seems they're just going broke.
Labour First Limited's accounts for its first year of trading were recently lodged with Companies House, and they tell a sorry tale.
The company declared income of just £46,257 - meaning they only had £6k left over after paying Mr Pound's wages, leaving a shortfall of £9,416 in the total needed to cover their other costs. A loss, in short.
Which begs the question: How are they going to cover this year's outgoings? The Labour First website features their ongoing crowdfunding campaign prominently, so one might assume an ongoing stream of cash from donors will save the day. It currently stands at £22,018.50
So, happy days, right? Well not exactly. In mid-August, the total stood at £21,893.50 - so that's an increase of just £125.00 in a month. That's not going to keep poor Matt in the manner to which he's become accustomed. Maybe he could stage an underminers' strike
But still, £22k is a fair chunk of the amount needed for his year's wage, yes? Well, no - since Labour First's accounts were made up to the 27 March this year, all monies received before that date are included. The bad news is, that means some £18,362.50, which as illustrated below by the excellent Wayback Machine, was received by 4 February 2018 - doesn't count.
By our reckoning, that leaves just £3,656 to put into the Pound pot - and that's without even considering funding Labour First's day-to-day running costs which, if similar to the 2017-18 financial year, can run to around £16,000.
Questioned last year about the apparent discrepancy between the crowdfunding total and the amount they claimed to have received in donations, Mr Akehurst said the remainder had been made up of individual donations (none over £7,500) and ongoing direct debit support.
Given that the Labour First donation page seems to be yielding scarcely enough to pay Mr Pound's bus fares, let alone his salary, we expect Luke is fervently hoping that the same mysterious backers will come up trumps again.......
We are not clear whether is is in fact legal for a limited company to continue trading when it does not have sufficient assets to meets its financial obligations - however a brief search on the internet provided this information
Whilst we are reluctant to add to the horrendous week Luke has already had, this further information might be a cause for future concern for him, as well as for Messrs. Spellar and Dibble
Luke Akehurst has been contacted by email for comment, but at time of writing we have received no response.