Campaign spending: new report out today…

THE Electoral Commission has a new report out today on campaign spending in last year’s election. The downloadable report shows how political parties and candidates spent their funds contesting the 2003 Assembly election. Spot anything interesting?

The Electoral Commission said: This was the first election to the Northern Ireland Assembly at which parties were subject to a new set of controls on campaign spending. As part of our role to promote transparency, expenditure returns submitted by parties and candidates have been analysed both to reveal trends and to examine how parties coped with the new controls.

  • peteb

    Gonzo

    “This report has been informed by a number of
    sources, which include the campaign expenditure
    returns, the candidate’s election expense
    returns and previous reports published by the
    Commission relating to campaign spending and
    various policy reviews. It has also benefited from the input of key stakeholders whose views have strategic thinking and operational planning of the Commission.”

    Given that the Electoral Commission has no power or ability to investigate the figures submitted by parties my first thought is that I don’t believe the figures.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Well, there’s definitely ONE figure I don’t believe…

  • peteb

    … and I’ll bet it’s the same one I have in mind.

  • davidbrew

    yep, Francie Brolly got elected in East Londonderry for £212. I believe that.

  • Will

    A few interesting notes in that report.

    Lets see what the parties spent per vote gained:
    DUP – £0.83
    UUP – £1.09
    SDLP – £2.00
    SF – £0.15 (now there’s value!!)

    The other really interesting figure to me was the revelation that the UUP spent over 20%, yes 1/5th of their total spending on their party political broadcasts. How much did it cost to film a bloke coming out of a chipshop then cutting to Dave and Daph walking along a path somewhere. There’s a lot of talk about Spielberg moments at the moment, but it looks as if Mr Trimble might actually have employed Steven to film their broadcast!

    Compare that to the DUP spending just under 20% on transport (their battlebus mainly according to the report). Which party do you think got better value for money?

    Now lets wait for all those Sinn Fein supporters to come out and give us all those trade secrets of how to run a central party campaign on less than £30 grand.

  • Will

    Correction, the figures given were central party spending per vote gained.

    If you take total spending (party + candidates), then the figures are:
    SDLP £3.45 per vote
    UUP £2.22 “” “”
    DUP £1.62 “” “”
    SF £1.14 “” “”

    Is it just me, or would it not have been more effective for the SDLP to take their £406,000 spent and divide it among the electorate. My estimation is that they could have given every eligable voter around 40p. I think 40 pence in the hand would have swung many more votes their direction than those ‘Stop the DUP’ adverts….. Mark Durkan take note! 😉

  • Keith M

    £3.45 a vote! It would have been cheaper to buy a pint for everyone who voted for them!

  • cg

    The reason why Sinn Fein spends less on elections than other parties is because they can rely on thousands of party activists.
    The SDLP pay its canvassers and Sinn Fein doesn’t.

    It’s not hard to see why Sinn Fein spends less.

    In my own area the SDLP only came by our village once on a Saturday and didn’t even knock doors. Sinn Fein knocked and spoke to everyone at those doors at least 3 or 4 times.

    Sinn Fein will knock anyone’s door and try and persuade them while the other parties don’t.

    Some of these posts just sound like sour grapes.

  • peteb

    And your post reads like a SF press release, cg 🙂

  • cg

    “And your post reads like a SF press release, cg :)”

    It’s the truth.

    Peteb
    If you can present evidence of Sinn Fein spending more money than they are declaring then by all means tell me, otherwise I’ll take your last post for what it is … denial.

  • peteb

    I made the point about the unreliability of all the political parties’ declarations at the beginning of this thread, cg. The denial is all yours.

  • cg

    Again peteb, Produce your evidence.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “And your post reads like a SF press release,”

    Yip Pete and yours reads like a typical unionist whinge. I bet you were one of the ones who thought that the SF vote didn’t really exist and that the new electoral restrictions would see the SF vote tumble.
    CG is right they just have more committed activists than any other party. You know, the type that do it for free.

  • cg

    Or at least produce evidence to disprove my comments of post 08:01

  • peteb

    Now Pat and cg, I have no desire to get into a slanging match with you two on such an insignificant subject as past elections expenditure.. but I would take exactly the same tone with any other party apparatchik that posted comments like the ones we’re witnessing here.

    Given the bloated campaigns run by various party HQ (some certainly more bloated than others), I think the more interesting figures from this report are the breakdown of the average expenditure per candidate

    Average candidates expenditure(£) by party
    UUP 4,137
    SDLP 4,767
    SF 4,117
    DUP 3,501
    IND* 3,071
    APNI 2,204
    (Table 6 page 42)

    BTW Pat, don’t attribute affiliations to someone when you don’t know what those affiliations are.

  • cg

    If it walks like a unionist, Talks like a unionist, then it must be a…

  • Will

    If SF doesnt spend much on elections (keep on trying to persuade us of that one… its fun to see the explanations you come up with), then what exactly does one of the richest parties on ‘these islands’ spend its cash on. We all know that the Shinners arnt exactly poor and they allegedly pay workers, MLAs etc an industrial wage. What’s the cash for then?

    As for the ‘bloated’ spend of other central party campaigns. There is a little bit of truth there. Some of the parties just threw good money after bad during the election campaign – fish & chips or a lollypop anyone??? However, SF tell us they spent about £3 grand producing a Party Political Broadcast – how do they do that so much cheaper than all the other parties? After all, their army (sorry really shouldn’t use that kind of term should i) of workers on the ground cant produce 3 minutes, or whatever length, of television for broadcast.

    I can buy the fact that SF might be a bit more frugal than the likes of the UUP and SDLP – they were fighting for their life and they thought that throwing the money Tony Blair raised for them at a campaign would save them. However, I cand buy the fact that SF run a central campaign on less than £30,000.

  • Moderate Unionist

    …fellow member of the human race entitled to an opinion?

    Can we use your logic to infer a link between the IRA and Sinn Fein or do they walk and talk differently?

  • davidbrew

    “What’s the cash for then?”
    Will I think you know that it costs money posting guns from Florida

    And cg, if its all down to a mass movement how come Francie’s ugly mug appeared on at least twice the number of lampposts the UUP did? Possibly one thousand full colour 4′ by 3′ laminated card? Not to mention the large banners put up across the road in places like Kilrea.

    I don’t know who the Shinners’ accountant is, but I want him doing my taxes

  • willowfield

    If SF doesnt spend much on elections (keep on trying to persuade us of that one… its fun to see the explanations you come up with), then what exactly does one of the richest parties on ‘these islands’ spend its cash on. We all know that the Shinners arnt exactly poor and they allegedly pay workers, MLAs etc an industrial wage. What’s the cash for then?

    Guns? Explosives? Hurley bats? Armani suits?

    However, SF tell us they spent about £3 grand producing a Party Political Broadcast – how do they do that so much cheaper than all the other parties?

    Intimidation? Blackmail?

  • willowfield

    The other really interesting figure to me was the revelation that the UUP spent over 20%, yes 1/5th of their total spending on their party political broadcasts. How much did it cost to film a bloke coming out of a chipshop then cutting to Dave and Daph walking along a path somewhere. There’s a lot of talk about Spielberg moments at the moment, but it looks as if Mr Trimble might actually have employed Steven to film their broadcast!

    IT was also by far the WORST broadcast – absolutely dreadful.

    Can’t understand why it was so expensive either – looked like it was filmed with one hand-held camcorder.

  • Davros

    If it walks like a unionist, Talks like a unionist, then it must be a…

    Dangerous mindset, and one encouraged by the GFA unfortunately.

  • Will

    Davidbrew raises an interesting point about posters. SF did use a lot of posters, not only for their canddiates, but there were a huge number of generic party posters all across the county. As those were promoting the party generally then those would have to have been paid for by the general party expenses.

    Those posters dont come cheap either – their budget must be squeaking it is so tight.

  • Davros

    Have all the posters finally come down ? If, as is supposed to happen, the parties responsible for leaving them up are fined, will those count as election expenses ?

  • MollyM

    The SDLP pay its canvassers and Sinn Fein doesn’t.

    Not true. The SDLP does not pay canvassers. It is illegal to pay canvassers under the current electoral legislation. Although you may provide some limited refreshment. The SDLP may have fewer canvassers but I am sure that they are all there out of commitment to the party, despite what SF may want to believe.

    Things I am curious about:

    SF recorded a £0 amount for unsolicited material to electors when I received a printed letter with a first class stamp from Gerry Adams asking me for his vote when he was not running in my constituency – I presume that I was not the sole recipient of such a letter.

    SF recorded a notional expenditure of £0. It seems amazing that a campaign could be run so cheaply with no supporters or members providing discounts or freebies. Notional expenditure does include the cost of petrol, discount on goods or services or if a professional provides a service for free (perhaps some of those involved with the Party Political Broadcast as it was so cheap) then the full amount of these goods or services must be taken out of the expenses and recorded as notional expenditure. Maybe someone from SF could clarify this?

    And before anyone says it – of course anyone involved with any other party is green with envy that SF managed to run a successful election for so little money and I do think that the SDLP and the UUP in particular appear to have let spending run away. It would be interesting to know what portion of the expenditure by SDLP and the UUP was in the last days of the campaign, as it appeared that they were loosing ground?

  • Will

    Interesting points raised Molly. I wonder how much those lollypops and huge ‘stop the DUP’ billboards cost….. surely the DUP should have at least partly paid for them given the huge boost they gave to the DUP campaign 😉

    There are so many questions which can be raised about the Sinn Fein campaign. They may be a bit tight on their spending, but the figures given are simply ridiculous.

    That again then leaves the question as to where all the rest of the money raised by the Shinners goes. Come on all those stout defenders of the Prada provos virtue – what do you think the millions of $ raised goes on? Surely it cant all go on Gerry’s house in Donegal.

  • Cahal

    “That again then leaves the question as to where all the rest of the money raised by the Shinners goes”

    The thing which strikes me about this thread is, if the Shinners had spent a firtune on the election, the question would be

    “That again then leaves the question as to where all the money raised by the Shinners comes from”