'No' campaign outspent rivals by 60 per cent in AV referendum

 

The successful campaign to keep the first-past-the-post system for choosing MPs outspent supporters of electoral reform by more than £1.25m, official figures published yesterday show.

The Electoral Commission disclosed that the groups which argued for a No vote in the referendum in May accumulated a war-chest of £3,472,213. By contrast, advocates of a switch to the Alternative Vote spent £2,209,748 getting their message across.

The disparity of £1,262,465 is unlikely to have made a difference to the outcome of the referendum, in which voters rejected a move to AV by a majority of more than two to one.

But it underlines the financial firepower that the No campaigners were able to unleash in the run-up to the vote.

They were for instance able to fund two national mailshots, while the Yes campaign only had enough cash to target selected addresses.

The No team could also afford national poster campaigns, including controversial images claiming that the money used to move to AV would be better used to save babies' or soldiers' lives.

Most of the money used to oppose the change went through the official No campaign which poured £2,598,194 into its publicity effort. The Conservative Party contributed a further £660,787, while the Labour No to AV campaign spent £192,084.

On the other side of the battle, the Yes in May 2011 organisation spent £2,139,741. The Liberal Democrats only found £62,782 despite viewing securing the referendum as a key victory in negotiations over the terms of the Coalition Government.

Although Ed Miliband was in favour of AV, Labour Yes was unable to stump up any money. The No campaign was supported by 200 Labour MPs, but much of the financial and organisational muscle was provided by Tories.

The Conservative peers Baron Sainsbury of Preston Candover, Lord Harris of Peckham and Lord Fink, the Tory treasurer, all donated substantial sums.

At the turn of the year, polls suggested the Yes campaign was on course for a comfortable victory. At that point David Cameron, who was warned his leadership could be in peril if the referendum backed AV, became heavily involved and the weight of the Tory machine swung behind the No campaign.

It used aggressive tactics to turn round the polls, its hard-hitting publicity eclipsing its opponents who were determined to run a grassroots-style campaign.

In the end the No campaign scored a triumphant victory as Britain rejected AV by 67.9 per cent to 32.1 per cent. Just 10 out of the 440 counting areas voted for electoral reform.

A former activist in the Yes camp said they were always fighting an uphill battle given Nick Clegg's unpopularity during the campaign and Labour's split on the issue. But he added: "The other side had the money to rip up things and start again when it didn't look good for them. We didn't have that luxury and had to continue on our set course."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions