Friday, March 04, 2005

Money isn't everything

Graphically demonstrating that you can throw money at an issue and still not win, The Times today reports that the "yes" campaign for the North-east regional assembly spent £400,000 and lost the vote.

This is according to figures released by the Electoral Commission, which show that Yes4theNorthEast spent more than £250,000, the Labour Party £125,000 and trade unions £35,000. The exact amount Yes4theNorthEast spent will not be revealed until later in the year because it spent more than £250,000, but the figure could reach £665,000. This may bring the final bill, to almost £1 million.

Yet, despite that vast expenditure, the referendum produced a vote of 696,519 against the assembly, compared with 197,310 who voted "yes" in the November poll - a decisive margin of 78 to 22 percent. All 23 council areas in the region produced a "no" vote.

By contrast, North East Says No, the official "no" campaign, spent £142,900; its Sunderland-based "no" rival Neil Herron spent £28,270 and the Conservative Party, which had opposed the referendum, spent £30,243, bringing the total to approximately £200,000 – one fifth of the estimated "yes" campaign costs.

At a rough reckoning, this means that each "yes" vote cost about £5.00 while the "no" vote cost was in the order of 28p.

In today's Northern Echo, North-East No campaigner Neil Herron is cited as saying: "What this shows is that no matter how much money they were able to throw at it, if the present wasn't very nice then no amount of shiny wrapping paper was going to make people want it."

Some may worry about the amount of money that the government is prepared to pump into the EU referendum campaign but, as these figures show, money isn't everything.

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