The Electoral Commission has launched an inquiry into whether the Conservatives violated election spending rules at the general election. An investigation by Channel 4 News said that alleged irregularities in recording expenses in Thanet South meant the Tories broke spending limits during the campaign. During last year’s election Ukip’s Nigel Farage lost to the Tories’ Craig Mackinlay in one of the most high-profile contests in the country. The loss for Ukip sparked Mr Farage’s short-lived resignation as party leader. However, the Conservatives were said to have attributed £14,000 worth of hotel bills spent for activists in Thanet South to “national” election expenditure rather than to Thanet South’s account.
Parties were restricted to spending a maximum of £15,016 on the constituency – allocating the bills to national expenditure may have meant the Conservatives were able to spend more money on other campaigning activity to win the crucial vote.
The amount of money allowed to be spent in any given seat at the general election per party is £8,700, plus six pence for every person on the electoral register.
The strict rules are in place to make it more difficult to swing a seat simply by spending large amounts of money on professional campaigning.