Keir Starmer during a visit to Operation Interflux near Salisbury last week. (Photo: Stefan Rousseau via PA Wire/PA Images)
Keir Starmer has put Labour on a war footing in case the new prime minister decides to call a snap election, HuffPost UK has learned.
The move is behind efforts to centralise the party’s fundraising campaign in an attempt to build up a multi-million pound fighting fund should the country go to the polls in the next few months.
The next general election does not need to take place until the end of 2024.
But some believe that whoever wins could call an early election to try to capitalise on any initial poll boost and before the full impact of the cost of living crisis hits home.
It was reported last week that Starmer had forced his frontbenchers to stop fundraising for their own offices in a bid to get to grips with Labour’s money worries.
Instead, all fundraising is now being aimed at boosting the party’s own coffers.
Accounts published last week showed the party recorded a £5.2m deficit last year, although there wasa £4.3m increase in donations.
A senior Labour source told HuffPost UK the decision to centralise fundraising was due to the prospect of an early election.
“This is about ensuring Labour is ready to hit the ground running if there’s is an early election: nothing more, nothing less,” they said.
“We take a very dim view of attempts to use a boring bit of housekeeping to create arguments where they don’t exist.”
The move comes as relations between Labour and the trade unions, who the party still rely on for much of their income, are growing increasingly strained.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham yesterday called on Starmer to “get a spine” and “stick up for workers”.
She said: “It is more likely they (Labour) would get elected more if they spoke up for workers more.”
Starmer’s decision to order his frontbenchers not to go on picket lines led to a backlash from union leaders, and fresh threats that they could withdraw their financial backing.
Party grandee Peter Mandelson last week told City AM that the Labour leader “cannot allow himself or the party” to become beholden to “hard-left trade unions”.
“The party has to redouble its efforts to raise funds from the public as a whole and from any donors who are prepared to back Labour’s campaign,” he said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.