Friday, 30 April 2010

Have the Tories really wasted their money?

Driving around the Westcountry it is impossible not to notice the huge amount of money the Conservatives have spent in the key marginals. Huge campaign posters - many featuring US-style grinning colour photos of candidates - line verges, fields and gardens.

It is impossible to drive into any of the major towns without passing a billboard plastered with the latest Tory attack on Labour, or a giant David Cameron looking down on you.

On one visit to the Torbay seat, I arrived to find a new Tory attack poster being pasted over an old "I've never voted Tory before..." one. Literally money to burn, it would seem.

But speaking to David Miliband this morning, as part of a round of regional interviews he was doing post-debate, he made an interesting point.

“We haven’t got the money the Tories have. The party that’s spent the most money has, according to the opinion polls, lost the most votes.”

It is true the Tory poll lead slumped just as the campaign really got underway. And Lord Ashcroft surprisingly quickly became a well-known shorthand for Tory ‘outsider’ money, which many in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset don’t like.

But it has also created a sense of momentum, and of taking an interest in a region which has long felt ignored, especially by the two largest parties.

The Liberal Democrats have quietly grumbled about the Tory spending, while reluctantly admitting they wouldn’t be spending the huge sums if it didn’t work.

Just how well it has "worked" is not clear. We’ll have to wait another week for that.


  1. I'm not sure that 3 weeks before an election is when Cornwall wants to be noticed by the 2 main parties. It'd be preferable if they thought about us at other times.

    They can spend what they like, but if they wanted our vote they should of done something for us over the past 5 years.

  2. Attacking Labour in Cornwall and Devon (with a slight exception for Exeter and Plymouth seems pretty daft anyway). Must have got the poster sites as a job lot.