UK Politics

Labour to be investigated over late 'Ed Stone' receipts

Ed Miliband unveils what became known as the 'Ed Stone' in the run-up to last year's general election Image copyright PA
Image caption The carving was seen as symptomatic of the failings of Labour's campaign

The Labour Party is to be investigated for being late in submitting receipts for its widely-mocked "Ed Stone".

The Electoral Commission confirmed it has now received two invoices for the monument, which listed the party's election pledges, totalling £7,830.

They include £1,575 haulage costs, and £270 for a stone mason to erect it.

Labour blamed an "admin error" for failing to submit the invoices before data of 2015 election spending by all the parties was revealed this week.

Much of the subsequent reporting of the various parties' election campaign spending highlighted that the "Ed Stone costs" had not been revealed. Labour said there had been an "administrative error" and that it would be quickly rectified.

The Electoral Commission has said it will investigate the late submission.

The maximum sanction the Electoral Commission is able to impose for a breach of the rules is £20,000.

Ed Miliband unveiled the 8ft stone carving on the final weekend of the 2015 General Election campaign, saying that it would be installed in the garden of Downing Street to remind the party of its duty to honour its six main election promises.

The move was met with near universal derision and what happened to what became known as the "Ed Stone" has been unclear. Various unconfirmed reports have suggested it is in a warehouse in London or has been destroyed.

Campaign spending

The Electoral Commission told the BBC that it would be looking into the issue of the receipts being submitted late "in line with its policy".

It was unable to confirm how long the investigation might take, saying sometimes it has to go back and ask for more information, and each incident is dealt with on a case by case basis.

Spending on the stone was not included in the Electoral Commission data released on Wednesday.

Labour said at the time: "Due to an administrative error these invoices were not included with other items of campaign spend. We have informed the Electoral Commission and will seek to rectify this error as soon as possible."

Image copyright Electoral Commission
Image copyright Electoral Commission

Labour spent £12m on the campaign, the watchdog's figures show, compared with £15.5m spent by the Conservatives.

In total, £39m was spent by the UK's six largest parties on the campaign, an increase on the £34.4m spent in 2010 but lower than the record £42m spent in 2005.

Although comfortably outspending Labour over the regulated period - between 23 May 2014 and 7 May 2015 - the Conservatives spent less than in 2010, when their budget was £16.6m. In contrast, Labour spent more than in 2010, when their total outlay was £8m.

A breakdown of the figures show the Conservatives spent 27.7% of their budget on "unsolicited material", such as flyers, and 23.2% on advertising while Labour spent 61% of their budget on "unsolicited material" and 7.6% on advertising.

How money was spent by all parties

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The SNP's campaign war chest increased hugely

Unsolicited material: £15.04m

Market research and canvassing: £7.61m

Advertising: £6.86m

Rallies and other events: £2.49m

Overheads and general admin: £2.02m

Transport: £1.67m

Campaign broadcasts: £866,000

Media: £329,713

Manifestos: £318,880

Source: Electoral Commission

Spending on rallies accounted for 13% of Labour's total expenditure compared with the Conservatives' 5% while the Conservatives spent 30.1% of their budget on market research and canvassing, against Labour's 7.7% outlay.

The Conservatives spent £1.2m on advertising on Facebook in the year before the poll while Labour spent just over £16,000.

The figures do not cover some administrative spending, for instance on staff, while spending by individual candidates is reported separately.

The SNP reported the biggest rise in spending compared with 2010, when their expenditure totalled £316,000. In contrast, the Lib Dems' spending fell from £4.7m in 2010 to £3.5m last year.

The UK Independence Party spent £2.8m while the Greens spent £1.1m. UKIP spent the least per vote gained while the SNP spent least per MP won.

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