If I were the chief executive of either the Co-operative or Unity Trust Bank, I'm not sure I would appreciate reasons currently being advanced by the Labour Party to justify an instruction to its branches, constituency parties and other units to bank exclusively with these two institutions. Some 70% of the bodies involved already do. So what's the problem?
It is claimed in a letter to those involved that changes in regulations arising from the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and those proposed in the Political Parties and Elections Bill currently before Parliament justify the instruction. I have been refused a copy of the internal NEC Business Board report so I feel free to pose questions publicly.
The reason advanced is the standardisation of accounts. I've been a branch and CLP Treasurer since the PPERA 2000 came into force and I can't remember any occasion needing help from the Co-op bank compiling accounts, or being offered such a service, if I needed one. So I asked HO if they could supply examples.
The only ones cited were questions regarding access to accounts where signatories have moved away, died or are in dispute with the local party.
This looks as though HO is paving the way for imposing a centralised treasury/banking function on the dwindling membership - and driving another nail in the coffin of a mass-membership party. Or is that a non-sequitur, just like the reason advanced by the powers that be for compulsory banking with the Coop and UTB?
Memo to Co-op and UTB, don't claim you weren't warned.