William Hague outspent Tony Blair by £1.5m at the general election this year and paid more than twice as much for party political broadcasts, figures revealed yesterday.
The Tories' losing campaign cost them £12,769,029 compared with Labour's £11,140,019.
The figures compiled by the Electoral Commission – the first time parties have been forced to disclose spending – show that the Liberal Democrats, who scored their best result since the 1920s, spent less than £1.5m on their campaign.
Almost half of the Liberal Democrats' budget went on transport, mainly on Charles Kennedy's campaign plane and "big banana" battle buses.
The Scottish National Party received a light reprimand for failing to submit figures to the watchdog on time. "We are working with the SNP to ensure their returns get back as soon as possible," a Commission spokeswoman said.
Spending on advertising fell overall after the 1997 election with Labour narrowly outspending the Tories with a £5m advertising budget. Mailshots amounted to the second largest expense for Labour – £1,565,447 compared with £1,255,341.01 for the Tories.
The UK Independence Party spent £748,603 on the election. The public sector union Unison spent £774,796.Reuse content