Home Business News Nearly 15% of the UK 2019 general election campaign war chest is unaccounted for

Nearly 15% of the UK 2019 general election campaign war chest is unaccounted for

by LLB political Reporter
15th Jun 22 12:03 pm

The Regulating the Business of Election Campaigns report, commissioned by the Stockholm-based intergovernmental organization International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), shows that despite having a seemingly world-leading transparency regime, there is much we don’t know about the services provided at UK elections.

Lax reporting means that approximately 15 per cent of total expenditure at the 2019 election (over GBP 6.6 million) came in the form of unclear invoices.

For the first time, the authors—Dr Katharine Dommett (University of Sheffield), Dr Sam Power (University of Sussex), Dr Andrew Barclay (University of Sheffield) and Dr Amber Macintyre (Tactical Tech)—have painstakingly analysed every single invoice submitted to the Electoral Commission (a legal requirement when parties spend over GBP 200 on a supplier during a campaign) to gain a better picture of the companies, suppliers and individuals operating at elections.

Where information could be gained about election spending, the report provides clear insight into where parties focus their spending. While a huge amount is spent on the production of campaign materials and leaflets (GBP 21.5 million), new campaigning techniques have become embedded alongside traditional methods. Over 50 per cent of all advertising spend was on social media ads (and over 70 per cent online), just over GBP 4 million was spent on research, and nearly GBP 1.2 million was spent on consultants.

“The UK is often heralded for its best practice around electoral transparency, but our analysis revealed significant holes in existing transparency requirements,” says Dr Katharine Dommett, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sheffield.

“It’s currently possible for parties to provide little meaningful information, or to be deliberately elusive about what is disclosed, suggesting an urgent need to reform existing processes.

“That we cannot be certain how at least GBP 6.6 million was spent at the 2019 general election is genuinely shocking’, says Dr Sam Power, Lecturer in Corruption Analysis at the University of Sussex.

“The Conservatives have shown a considerable interest in reforming electoral law, and the Electoral Commission, during their time in office. There are sensible reforms here which can be actioned with relative ease and should be considered as a matter of course before the next election.”

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