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Parties spent £9 million at 2009 European election

Political parties spent just over £9 million campaigning in Great Britain at the 2009 European Parliamentary elections, according to figures published by the Electoral Commission – the independent party funding and elections watchdog.

These figures show that:

  • Twenty-six political parties contesting the election spent £9,027,704 on campaigning during the regulated period that ran from 5 February to 4 June. This is £572,662 less than was spent at the 2004 European Parliamentary elections.
  • The four parties with the highest spending - the Conservative Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats and United Kingdom Independence Party – accounted for 80 percent of the total spend across Great Britain. Reported spending by all political parties was within the statutory limits, which for a party contesting all 69 seats in Great Britain was £3,105,000 million.
  • Sixty-four percent of spending went on ‘unsolicited material to electors’ i.e. leaflets and other campaign material sent to electors. A further 15 percent of spending went on advertising.
  • Parties also have to supply figures for their spending in England, Wales and Scotland separately. Eighty-five percent of spending took place in England, eight percent in Scotland and seven percent in Wales.
  • All political parties that contested the election had to submit campaign spending returns to the Electoral Commission. The Commission published figures for parties that spent up to £250,000 at the election on 1 October 2009; this includes all spending by parties in Northern Ireland and third parties. Figures published today are for those parties that spent £250,000 or more.

Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, said: “By making these returns public, we aim to put information in the hands of voters and help increase transparency in politics. The political parties that contested the European Parliamentary election had a responsibility to submit a return of their campaign spending to the Commission. The vast majority of parties did so in a timely fashion.

“If parties fail to submit a return by the deadline set down in law, this does damage to that principle of transparency and affects our ability to make information available to the public.

“The United Kingdom Independence Party and British National Party both submitted their complete spending return after the statutory deadline and we have issued them with a fine for this failure.”

Spending returns – including invoices and receipts for all items of expenditure over £200 – are published here: www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance

 

Spending by political parties at European Parliament elections:

Political party  2004 spending  2009 spending
British National Party £228,813 £282,843
Conservative Party  £3,130,265 £2,482,536
The Green Party  £404,057  £369,324
Jury Team Did not contest £344,522
The Labour Party  £1,707,224 £2,302,244
Liberal Democrats  £1,188,861 £1,180,884
United Kingdom Independence Party  £2,361,754 £1,270,855
Parties spending under £250,000 £579,392 £794,496
Spending by all parties £9,600,366 £9,027,704

Spending by category

Category of spending Amount spent at 2009 European Parliament elections
Party political broadcasts  £338,781
Advertising £1,335,401
Unsolicited materials to electors £5,787,636
Manifesto and policy documents £34,148
Market research and canvassing £413,436
Press conferences/media £277,748
Transport  £219,486
Rallies and other events  £104,608
Overheads and general administration  £509,448

Spending throughout Great Britain at 2009 European Parliament elections

Country of Great Britain  Spending
England  £7,685,847
Scotland  £739,161
Wales  £602,695

 

Ends/

 

For further information contact Electoral Commission press office:

Tel (office hours): 020 7271 0529

Tel (outside office hours): 07789 920414

Email: press@electoralcommission.org.uk

 

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections.
  2. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000) introduced controls on campaign expenditure by political parties and third parties contesting European Parliamentary elections. Parties with expenditure up to and including £250,000 must deliver a return to the Commission within three months of the date of the election. Parties with expenditure over £250,000 must deliver an audited return to the Commission within six months of the date of the election.
  3. The Commission has issued the United Kingdom Independence Party and British National Party with a £500 each. This is the relevant penalty as set down in legislation.
  4. All figures for spending by parties in Northern Ireland at the election were published in 1 October 2009, as all parties in Northern Ireland spent under £250,000.
  5. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000) limited the amount that parties may spend during the four months up to a European Parliamentary election. For the 2009 European Parliamentary elections, the ‘regulated period’ ran from 5 February until polling day (4 June).
  6. Expenditure by political parties must be recorded against one of the following categories:
    - Party political broadcasts
    - Advertising
    - Unsolicited materials to electors
    - Manifesto and policy documents
    - Market research and canvassing
    - Press conferences/media
    - Transport
    - Rallies and other events
    - Overheads and general administration
  7. Figures in this press release are rounded to the nearest £. Rounding errors may occur.
  8. Due to reduced number of European Parliamentary seats allocated to the United Kingdom, the spending limit for a party contesting all seats in the 2009 elections (£3.105 million) is lower than the equivalent limit at the 2004 election (£3.510 million)

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