May 2016

Election Expenses Exposed

If the Conservative Party wasn’t already rigging the system in its favour, be that by redrawing consistency boundaries (gerrymandering by any other name) or reforming party funding, it turns out they may have broken campaign spending rules as well.

A Channel 4 News investigation has uncovered evidence suggesting large-scale and systematic abuse of spending limits, both at last year’s general election, and during three key by-elections in 2014:

Our investigation has uncovered hundreds of pages of receipts for more than 2,000 nights of hotel stays. In each of three by-election campaigns, we found a pattern – luxury hotels for senior staff, while junior campaigners were put up cheaper rooms – usually the local Premier Inn.

The campaign spending was similar in other ways: 770 rooms were booked in the name or home address of one Conservative staffer - Marion Little - while others appeared under the name “Mr Conservatives”.

None of these hotel receipts seem to have been declared by the party.

This is nothing short of a scandal, yet one helpfully suppressed by the current EU Referendum campaign. All this, revealed on the same week David Cameron hosted the international Anti-Corruption Summit; maybe we need to focus on the corruption taking place a little closer to home, first.


Beyond the depressing particulars of this story, as someone who worked on an earlier design of the Channel 4 News website, I found the presentation of this story to be encouraging, not least because of its uncluttered layout, digestible content and accessible data visualisations. As a news team renowned for its in-depth reporting and investigations, I hope this article is a sign that we can expect more of its online coverage to meet those same high standards.

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