Home > Party funding > Stricter spending controls in the ‘short’ general election campaign

Stricter spending controls in the ‘short’ general election campaign

Once Parliament is dissolved, the official campaign period begins. This means stricter controls on party funding and campaign spending.

– Candidates are subject to lower spending limits from the day after dissolution – candidates can only spend £7,150 (plus 7p for each registered voter in county constituencies and 5p per registered voter in borough constituencies). Candidates have already been subject to a separate limit for the ‘long campaign’ – but, rather confusingly, a new set of limits will apply once the ‘short campaign’ starts.

– Third parties (those other than candidates or political parties) can spend only £500 on materials to campaign for or against a particular candidate (see s.75 of the Representation of the People Act). So if a person spends money on a website that is used to promote or oppose a candidate between now and the election, it will fall within this limit – though not sure how many would come close to that amount.

– Political parties will have to provide the Electoral Commission with weekly reports of donations received (s.63 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000). Once published by the Electoral Commission (check their website each week), these figures will provide a regular feed of  party funding stories, which will no doubt continue to make headlines.

Don’t forget that it is still an illegal practice to make or publish ‘any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct,’ ‘for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election’ unless it can be shown that the publisher ‘had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, the statement to be true.’ (s.106 of the Representation of the People Act). While the offence of criminal libel was abolished last year, this law restricting false statements remains on the books (and can lead to prosecution or an injunction). I guess this law is not stringently enforced, but I wonder how many times we may see it being potentially breached.

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