Nigel Farage’s Reform UK spent more cash per vote at the Senedd elections than any of Wales’ other 10 largest parties
Nigel Farage’s Reform UK spent more cash per vote at the Senedd elections than any of Wales’ other 10 largest parties, an analysis of Electoral Commission data by Nation.Cymru has found.
Reform UK, the rebranded Brexit party which contested all 40 constituencies, spent £101,481 on campaigning ahead of last May’s election and won 29,135 votes in total.
It means they spent £3.48 on campaigning for every vote they received – 70p more per vote than the amount spent by any other party which spent more than £10,000 on campaigning.
In one constituency, Torfaen, Reform UK outspent the Conservatives but finished sixth out of eight with just 730 votes, some 5,521 fewer than the second placed Conservative candidate.
The Liberal Democrats, who slumped to their worst ever Senedd election result despite benefiting from their biggest donation on record from the co-founder of Admiral insurance, spent the second most per vote (£2.78), followed by UKIP (£2.18) and Freedom Alliance (£1.98).
Abolish the Welsh Assembly spent the lowest amount per vote at 62p, partly because a third of their constituency candidates were purely paper candidates and didn’t spend any money.
It also reflects the fact that “Abolish is a single issue proposition on the ballot paper, able to secure the support of some voters without needing a significant election campaign,” according to Dr Jac Larner, a researcher on the Welsh Election Study team at Cardiff University’s Wales Governance centre.
Although that meant Abolish the Welsh Assembly spent less money relative to other devosceptic parties, Dr Larner stressed that the party was “routed” last May, with the “majority of voters who say they want to scrap devolution voted for the Conservatives”.
Overall, Devosceptic parties saw their vote collapse by a third at this year’s Senedd election despite more than doubling the amount of money spent on campaigning.
The calculations are based on data published this week by the Electoral Commission on party and candidate spending.
Of Wales’ major parties, the Conservatives spent the most per vote at £1.38, ahead of Plaid (£1.21) and Labour (99p).
When it comes to spending by parties, which includes money spent on regional list candidates, the Conservatives significantly outspent Labour by almost £50,000 and Plaid Cymru by almost £250,000.
But when candidate spending is taken into account, our analysis found Labour spent £839,430 compared to £788,703 by the Conservatives and £552,609 by Plaid Cymru.
That reflects the fact that 26 of Labour’s 29 seats are constituencies rather than regional list seats, while half of the Conservative’s 16 members were elected via the regional lists.
The most expensive candidate at the election was Labour’s Jane Bryant, whose £14.380 in spending helped her survive a strong challenge from the Conservatives in Newport West.
The Vale of Glamorgan was the constituency with the highest spending candidate in the last UK general election, with Conservative Alun Cairns spending £15,179 to save his seat in the wake of his resignation as Wales Secretary.
And that constituency was again hotly contested in the Senedd elections. Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt held the seat with the second highest spend (£14,197) of any candidate and her Conservative challenger, Matthew Smith, spent the third highest amount (£14.086) and more than any other Conservative.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price was the fourth-highest spender (£13,553), while Samuel Kurtz, who was elected the MS for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, was fifth (£13,207).
Nation.Cymru revealed in November how Kurtz received a £3,000 donation from his family’s holiday cottage business.
The candidate who received the most in donations wasn’t elected. Rodney Berman, the Liberal Democrat candidate in Cardiff Central and on the South Wales Central regional list, registered £21,094 in donations but came a distant second in his constituency contest.
Donations include things like free use of a party office as well as cash donations.
|Party||Party spending||Combined candidate spending||Votes||Spending per vote|
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.