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Tories’ disastrous poll bid cost £126k

By David Gordon

David Cameron's Conservatives topped the General Election campaign spending league in Northern Ireland — while failing to win a single seat.

And the ill-fated UCUNF alliance between the Tories and the UUP involved almost double the outlay of any other party here — proving the truth of the old Beatles hit ‘Can't Buy Me Love’.

Official figures for parties' campaign expenditure were published yesterday by the watchdog Electoral Commission.

The Conservatives shelled out £109,941 in Northern Ireland on the General Election, compared to just £8,434 in 2005 when they stood by themselves.

Their UCUNF (Ulster Conservatives and Unionists —New Force) partners, the UUP, spent a further £16,692 this year.

That made a grand total of £126,633 between the two parties, who ended the campaign with no Northern Ireland MPs.

Sinn Fein's tally, which was the second highest of the parties here, was £64,078.

UCUNF had a disastrous campaign, with the Ulster Unionists losing their sole MP Lady Sylvia Hermon before a vote was cast. Lady Hermon refused to back the Tory link-up and regained her North Down seat on an independent ticket.

Other key facts from party campaign figures included:

  • Sinn Fein's £64,078 total compared to £44,212 in 2005. It retained all five of its seats.
  • The DUP was next highest this year, spending £59,086, significantly less than its £107,133 total for 2005. The party successfully defended eight of its nine seats, but leader Peter Robinson dramatically lost in East Belfast to Alliance's Naomi Long.
  • The SDLP spent £52,339 getting its three MPs re-elected this year. That compared to £154,088 five years ago.
  • Alliance's expenditure was £23,944, compared to £21,124 in 2005. Its East Belfast win was a first in the party's history.
  • Jim Allister's Traditional Unionist Voice party spent £11,368 in its first Westminster campaign.
  • The bill for all main parties that contested the election was well down on 2005. Nine parties reported spending of £343,952 on campaigning in Northern Ireland this year, compared to eight parties that spent £596,326 for the 2005 general election.

The figures do not cover separate expenditure by individual candidates.

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