Yesterday the Electoral Commission published information about the campaign spending by UK political parties during the 2010 general election. Buried near the end of the release was this news:
Two third parties – ‘UNISON – The Public Service Union’ and ‘Searchlight Information Services Ltd’ – failed to submit their spending return on time. The Commission has issued Searchlight Information Services with a fine. The Commission will issue UNISON – The Public Service Union with a fine when they submit their return.
The overall figures showed spending down from its heights of 2005, with 43 parties spending just under £32m for 2010 compared with a total of just over £42m for 2005. The total amount of election-related expenditure was significantly higher as these totals exclude sums declared on individual candidate expense returns and also exclude certain exempt categories, including various party staff salaries.*
The Liberal Democrat figure was £4,787,595, up from £4,324,574 in 2005.
* The introduction of these rules for the 2001 election campaign caused one of my favourite exchanges with the Electoral Commission during my time working for the party, which went something like this: ‘Just to check I’ve understood both the law and your guidance correctly – we have a member of staff here whose job title is General Election Planning Manager. However, their salary does not count towards the General Election expense limit, is that right?’ ‘Yes.’