Ordinary people priced out of running for parliament, new study reveals

Standing for election costs the average candidate £11,000 of their own money, research finds

Sunday 02 September 2018 22:03
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Parliament
Parliament

Ordinary people are being priced out of standing for Parliament by the huge personal cost of becoming a party candidate, a new study has suggested.

Fighting a seat sets a person back an average £11,118, researchers found, after taking into account reducing working hours to campaign, the cost of getting selected as a candidate in the first place, and travelling around a constituency.

But the sum was found to be even greater for those attempting to win marginal seats.

Conservative candidates who won in such constituencies were found to have spent an average £121,467, while those who lost still spent £18,701. For Labour, the average personal cost of taking a marginal was £19,022, with candidates who failed were set back even more: £35,843.

This personal spending is distinct from official party spend which is regulated by the Electoral Commission.

The figures are revealed in a new book, Why We Get The Wrong Politicians, by journalist and some time Independent contributor Isabel Hardman.

The book also details the personal impact of standing for election, including relationship breakdowns, abuse, and candidates’ children needing counselling in the aftermath of a bruising campaign.

Ms Hardman calls it “the most expensive and time-consuming job interview on earth – and one without any guarantee of getting the job at the end”.

She proposed that both major parties and non-partisan groups should offer bursaries to improve the social and economic make-up of parliament.

The Conservatives Party said it has already introduced a small bursary fund, while Labour has been discussing the idea.

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