EDITORIAL: Non-profit sector finds its platform

As the Labour Party faithful departed Blackpool their luggage will contain less corporate merchandising than in days gone by. The decline in corporate sponsorship take-up and greater presence of public and voluntary sector organisations at one stage threatened to give the exhibition hall an almost wholesome feel.

The combination of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act and the general media atmosphere of sleaze hunting, led major corporates to stay away in unprecedented numbers. Of the 150 exhibitors in the Winter Gardens only 25 were standalone profit-driven organisations; the overwhelming majority of space being given over to charities, trade unions and non-profit groups. And those companies present tended to be in heavily regulated areas such as energy or transport.

The outcomes of this development can only be positive. While the party coffers may be light on corporate donations, there is a definite reputational benefit to Labour in being seen as the platform for non-profit groups and distancing itself, however modestly, from the private sector. Not withstanding its repeated commitment to PFI project and the continued presence of private sector lobbyists networking in the bar of the Imperial.

But the most significant and valuable boon goes to the non-profit organisations filling up the exhibition. The campaigning and lobbying opportunity opened up to them by the heavy corporate stay-away will prove of long-term value to both the party and the public sector.

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