With UKIP outspending the Conservatives in January’s Oldham by-election one might assume they deployed similar largesse to secure a shock second place in Barnsley Central last week. Denying an obvious excuse for the Conservatives’ (bad) and Liberal Democrats’ (appalling) results, however, a senior UKIP source told Scrapbook the party spent “about half as much”.
While official figures from Oldham show Nigel Farage and company spent £43,855 to grab fourth place behind the big three parties, their defeat of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Barnsley belied a significantly more thrifty campaign. The revelation comes amidst tales of a lacklustre Lib Dem effort, with Michael Crick reporting candidate Dominic Carman was running a operation “from the boot of [his] car”:
“Normally a candidate will be accompanied by several helpers and an MP or two. Carman had no-one with him as he canvassed voters near the town market.”
And in echoes of the Tories’ deliberate under-performance in Oldham, it seems the Liberal Democrats didn’t even bother telling people to campaign. The editor of Liberator magazine has now told Crick:
“The Lib Dems did not put the usual mobilisation effort into the by-election campaign. Normally, when there is a by-election, Cowley Street bombards members and supporters with e-mails urging them to go and help … there was not one e-mail from the party.”
While Cowley Street opted not to thrown resources at a lost cause, this strategy backfired badly when they lost their deposit. Full expenses returns will be released by Barnsley Council on or before 8 April so it will be interesting to see how much they spent.
Remember when the Lib Dems lived for by-elections?