POLITICS
19/09/2018 16:51 BST | Updated 20/09/2018 09:12 BST

Labour Cashes In On 'Most Successful' Party Conference Since 2014

13,000 people are due to descend on Liverpool next week.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

Labour believes it is set to stage its most financially lucrative party conference since 2014 next week, in a sign that businesses are now prepared to believe Jeremy Corbyn may form the next government.

The party says it expects 13,000 people in total to attend the gathering, which runs from Sunday until Wednesday.

HuffPost UK understands the party has more than doubled the money made in 2016, the last time it held its annual conference in Liverpool. That year 11,900 people made their way to the event.

Jennie Formby, Labour’s general secretary, said the “size and diversity” of the party’s conference reflected “the vibrancy of our growing membership of more than half a million people”.

“This year in Liverpool we will be outlining our plan to rebuild our communities, properly invest in our public services and transform our society so it works for the many, not just a privileged few,” she added.

This year’s event is due to see 5,016 party members descend on the city’s ECHO Arena – up from 3,772 in 2016. The number of voting delegates is up 50%, from 1,100 to 1,650.

The party says this year’s exhibition space is the most successful in terms of size and income generated since the 2014 conference in Manchester – when Ed Miliband was ahead in the polls in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

Next week’s meeting will feature 165 stands, with 22 new exhibitors. Businesses can pay thousands of pounds to secure a space in the hall. 

The exhibition area also includes a new Small Business Zone with six exhibitors, supported by TSB and the Federation of Small Businesses. The “Third Sector Zone” has grown from eight exhibitors in 2011 to 40.

The event will kick off with a rally on Saturday evening, with music and speeches.

In August official figures revealed Labour raised £56m in 2017, beating the Conservatives by nearly £10m. Labour raised more than £16m in membership fees alone.

The party now has more than 500,000 members and is keen to promote itself as a grassroots movement. But allies of Corbyn have been forced to reject claims his handling of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis has led to a fall in party members.

Labour’s conference is likely to be dominated by demands that Corbyn change position and back a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

There are also emerging splits on the left, between the leadership, the unions and Momentum over party rules governing the selection of candidates and the choice of Corbyn’s successor.