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Monday, October 22, 2007

Cost Of The Bottled Non Election

The Guardian is making a big deal out of the alleged £1m cost to Labour of preparing for the non-occurring November General Election. According to the LibDem-supporting daily rag, Party officials "had sanctioned hundreds of thousands of pounds of expenditure on booking hoarding sites, literature and recruitment of staff, and were at an advanced stage in setting up a media centre to handle daily press conferences". They go on to claim that Labour candidates in some marginal seats had printed and dispatched letters to thousands of Labour members and supporters asking for their help, despite the fact that the postal strike meant that hardly any reached their destinations until well after the election was called off. And just to rub it in, they report that the Tories only spent about 20% of Labour's splash-out, even though they established a full command centre at Millbank.

My reaction:

a) £1m is not a big deal in terms of the overall costs of an election these days, or even a big amount compared with my salary and bonus. If my memory is correct the spending limit nationally is about £20m, so this represents a precautionary 5% outlay on "long-lead" items - the hardware and personnel you need to already have on the day the campaign starts. Anyway, here in Hackney we'll help get it back by organising car boot sales and coffee mornings and by me sending Augustus to stand outside Primark with a collecting tin.

b) It would have been grossly irresponsible, given that Gordon was definitely going to call an election until those ghastly opinion polls were published, for the General Secretary not to have committed the expenditure to get the Party ready. Better to chuck a £million of members' subscriptions down the plug-hole being over-prepared, than lose an election through excessive financial prudence.

c) If the reports of a huge fundraising push in anticipation of an election are correct, the net effect will have been that the Party actually raised a lot more than £1m spent and ended up considerably reducing its indebtedness. So I think we should do it all again. We'll only have to spin stories about a snap election ten or fifteen times, calling the whole thing off each time, to clear our debts completely!

1 comment:

E Woodward said...

So who's the sacrifice, then? Gordon, or you? Either will do.