Tories spent almost £1m in Wales during the General Election – but just a fraction on Welsh companies

New Conservative MPs: James Davies picture by David Woolfall (CC BY 3.0). Virginia Crosbie picture by Stacey Mutkin (CC BY-SA 4.0). Sarah Atheron picture by David Woolfall (CC BY 3.0).

The Conservative Party spent almost a million pounds on their 2019 UK General Election campaign in Wales – but they spent just a fraction of that money on Welsh companies, Nation.Cymru can reveal.

Spending returns published by the Electoral Commission last week showed the Conservatives spent £16.4 million across the UK on their campaign to put Boris Johnson into Number 10.

The Electoral Commission did not specify how much of that sum was spent in Wales but their database provides an itemised list of spending on advertising, leaflets, manifestos, transport and other campaign activities.

An analysis by Nation.Cymru of entries valued at £100 or over found that the Conservative party spent at least £915,000 in Wales.

That’s five times more than the amount Plaid Cymru were able to put into their campaign (£176,487), despite Adam Price’s party spending significantly more than they did on the previous two UK general elections.

Conservative spending in Wales on unsolicited material (£312,000) alone was more than Plaid Cymru’s budget, while they also spent £56,000 on Facebook adverts targeted at Welsh voters.

On average, the Conservatives party spent £22,896 per Welsh seat at Westminster, compared to £4,412 by Plaid Cymru.

Details of Labour and Liberal Democrat spending have not yet been published.

 

Receipts

Despite spending less overall, Plaid Cymru spent significantly more money with Welsh businesses than the Conservative party.

The Conservatives promised to “redouble our efforts to promote Welsh business” in its manifesto.

But Nation.Cymru’s analysis of receipts found they spent just £16,692 with suppliers whose addresses were in Wales – 1.8% of their entire Welsh campaign spending.

The data paints a picture of a Welsh campaign run largely from London.

The single most expensive item of campaign spending was a £62,000 Conservative party order for letters bound for voters in England and Wales – but not Scotland – with a private mail firm based in Buckinghamshire. At least four more such orders were made with the same company.

The Scottish Conservatives meanwhile ordered most of their material from a company headquartered just outside Edinburgh.

Receipts also list the supplier for large orders of bilingual leaflets, a “Boris Wales” survey and a mailshot to voters in Brecon and Radnorshire as a communications firm based in central London.

Even substantial spending on the Conservative’s Welsh manifesto launch in Wrexham went to a London-based business.

£17,833 contact for production and technical support was given to a company called Blueway Creative Media registered at an address in Belgravia.

The Conservative’s most expensive outlay with Welsh companies was £10,380 on broadcasts with a Cardiff-based company called Puri-Evans Productions.

The only other direct Conservative spending with Welsh companies consisted of a stall at the Royal Welsh Show, a stall at Pride Cymru, and a printer with ink from a Newport-based company.

The returns do however show £67,629 was paid to local Welsh Conservative Associations during the campaign for canvassing and unsolicited material for voters which could have been spent locally.

The biggest sums were sent to activists in Cardiff North (£13,565), a target they failed to win from Labour, and the Vale of Glamorgan (£13,261) where Alun Cairns hung on despite being forced to quit the Cabinet.

Conservative spending across the UK in 2019 was down slightly on Theresa May’s unsuccessful 2017 campaign (£18,592,000) but up on the 2015 campaign (£15,608,000) which gave David Cameron a majority.

Budget

By contrast, Plaid Cymru spent £112,000 with Welsh businesses – 64% of their total campaign spending and six times more than the Conservatives.

Plaid’s single biggest spend was £12,000 worth of adverts with Reach, the parent company of Media Wales.

The party used two print companies in Swansea, while and a firm based in Wrexham for mass mailing. Its manifesto and TV broadcasts were produced by companies in Cardiff.

Most of Plaid’s £64,000 spending with companies outside of Wales is made up of £37,663 spent on polling from Yougov, Survation and Oscar Research, as well as £25,000 worth of Facebook adverts.

Plaid Cymru’s budget for the 2019 campaign was significantly higher than their spending in the 2017 (£105,655) and 2015 (£97,139.89) UK general elections.

Party spending figures are separate to candidate spending.

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