Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nerdism: which party got best value for money in Camden?

After having my appetite whetted by the Camden New Journal the other day I thought I'd take a quick look at the election expenses of the Camden general election candidates. There are two constituencies in Camden Holborn and St. Pancras and Hamstead and Kilburn - both of which were held in the end by their Labour incumbents (cuddly Frank Dobson and thespian Glenda Jackson respectively).

So let's take a quick peek at Hamstead and Kilburn first.

Total spend Votes Pounds per vote
Lab Glenda Jackson £27,192.02 17,332 £1.57
Con Chris Philp £39,739.57 17,290 £2.30
LD Ed Fordham £29,418.83 16,491 £1.78
Green Beatrix Campbell £810.38 759 £1.07
UKIP Magnus Nielsen £459.99 408 £1.13
BNP Victoria Moore £400.00 328 £1.22
Ind. Tamsin Julia Muca Omond £6,327.62 123 £51.44
Ind. Generosa Alcantara £2,360.19 91 £25.94

As you can see this was a hard fought, three way race between the three headed monster of Labour, Tory and Lib Dems. Glenda Jackson won the seat by a whisker no doubt due to "finally understanding the need to fund raise" as her charming election agent put it in an email available in the election returns. I didn't know you could slag off your candidate in your official returns - this opens up all sorts of possibilities!

Chris Philp was literally a couple of hundred quid away from the legal limit despite splitting numerous leaflets and items of expenditure between the Parliamentary and council elections. Let's hope he didn't make any accounting errors! One slip and it's chokey for Philp :)

Over all the candidates you can see the Greens had the best value for money with Beatrix Campbell who was "essentially a paper candidate" according to Tamsin Omond. And fair enough, that's true - still more than a pound per vote though due to one freepost leaflet.

The least value for money campaign was Tamsin's who spent three quarters of her campaign fund (all donated by one Poole resident) on her office. Over fifty quid per head is a bit rich - she might have been better off handing out tenners, if by better off we mean jailed for electoral fraud.

Now we come to Holborn and St. Pancras.

Total spend Votes Pounds per vote
Lab Frank Dobson £22,752.27 25,198 £0.90
LD Jo Shaw £17,190.14 15,256 £1.13
Con George Lee £28,283.59 11,134 £2.54
Green Natalie Bennett £10,895.48 1,480 £7.36
BNP Robert Carlyle ???
779 ???
UKIP Max Spencer £166.00 587 £0.28
Ind. John Chapman £519.79 96 £5.41
Eng Dem Mikel Susperregi £1,900.00 75 £25.33
Ind. Iain Meek £9.50 44 £0.22

Once again we see that Labour ran the best value for money campaign at just ninety pence per vote and the Tories struggled the hardest to win over voters. It will come as no surprise to locals that George Lee spent a large sum of money on his campaign with paid delivery and glossy leaflets the wealth was there for all to see, and no doubt abhor.

The Green's Natalie Bennett was a higher profile candidate than Bea Campbell, hence the higher spend. This was partly down to the fact that we hoped to win council seats - sadly the London effect left us with just one Camden councillor and the election spend had less direct impact on votes than we'd hoped. Move away now, there's no euphemism to see in this paragraph!

The award for best value for money goes to Iain Meek whose photocopying bill of £9.50 sees an admirably low carbon footprint campaign that spent just 22 pence for each of his 44 voters. If we forget about the five hundred pound deposit he lost, not included in the expenses, it sounds quite worthwhile.

The English Democrats probably misjudged their own demographic by running a Greek candidate which may well explain the fact they spent more than twenty five quid for each vote they received. Ouch. It's not fair really because the leaflets were hilarious.

One thing you wont see from these numbers is that in the 'short campaign' the Lib Dems spent more than any other party as they suddenly poured money into this unwinnable campaign overcome by Clegg-mania. Distributing leaflets with slogans like "Did you see the debate?" turned out to be a colossal waste of money as people had seen the debate and decided to vote Labour.

One last point, the election expenses of the far right (the absence of returns for Holborn not withstanding) show that it was right to ignore their lacklustre campaigns as the far right themselves had made no commitment to these elections. The best work against the fascists in constituencies like this is, in fact, to build the alternatives rather than to spend time asking people not to vote for candidates who most people wont know are even standing.

At this election the anti-fascist campaigns admirably mirrored the BNP's targeting strategy putting in the work where they were a threat and ignoring areas like Camden where there was little chance of them gaining a credible vote or, as it turns out, even campaigning.

1 comment:

Cathryn said...

Even more nerdy, and I may be wrong, but I thought Susperregi was Basque - its a Basque name - though I can't find anything to back that up.