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Electoral Commission publishes analysis of spending at 2010 UK general election

Published: 28 Feb 2011

The Electoral Commission, the independent elections watchdog and party finance regulator, has today published its analysis of spending at the May 2010 UK general election.

Our report brings together a summary of spending by candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners (originally published separately by the Commission in 2010) and outlines areas arising from the general election that relate to the regulatory regime for party and election finance. The report breaks down spending across the UK and separately for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Key headline data:

Over £59million was spent at the UK general election on 6 May 2010.

Parties: 43 political parties reported spending over £31.4million across the United Kingdom on campaigning during the regulated period. None of the parties reported national campaign spending that exceeded the applicable spending limits.

Total reported campaign expenditure by all political parties across the UK was £10.8m lower than in 2005. The Conservative Party accounted for over half (53%) of the entire amount spent by parties at national level during the campaign, with the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats spending 35% and 15% of the total respectively. These three parties accounted for 94% of all party expenditure and 98% of seats won in Great Britain.

Candidates: 4,150 candidates stood at the UK general election. We received expenditure details from 4,028 candidates, amounting to just over £25.2million spending on a range of activities, from posters to hiring campaign office space. Almost 70p of each pound spent by candidates went on ‘unsolicited material’ (such as leaflets) sent to electors.

Non-party campaigners: Non-party campaigners reported spending over £2.8m, more than £1million more than that reported in 2005.

Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, said:

‘Transparency about the reporting and analysis of who spends what at elections is important for a healthy democratic system that commands public confidence. Today’s report marks the final stage of reporting on the 2010 UK general election by bringing together an overview of all expenditure incurred by parties, candidates and non-party campaigners. In 2011 we will continue to focus on ensuring the fundamentals of the UK’s regulatory regime for party and election finance – transparency, controls on donations and spending, and enforcement – are as robust as they can be.’

For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office on:

020 7271 0704
07789 920 414
Follow the Commission on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK

Notes to editors

1.    Our report ‘UK general election 2010 Campaign Spending Report’ is available on the Electoral Commission website.
2.    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, set standards for well-run elections and are responsible for the conduct and regulations of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000).
3.    The Commission published details of spending by parties and other campaigners in the general election who spent under £250k in September 2010.  Details of spending of over £250k were published in December 2010. Details of spending by candidates were also published in December 2010.