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Revealed: How Conservative MP Stephen Barclay spent more than double his opponents to retain North East Cambridgeshire seat

PUBLISHED: 10:02 08 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:16 08 August 2017

Steve Barclay, Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire. Picture: IAN BURT

Steve Barclay, Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire. Picture: IAN BURT

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Victorious Stephen Barclay spent more than double his five opponents put together to win this year’s race to become North East Cambridgeshire’s MP.

Labour's Ken Rustidge. Picture: STEVE WILLIAMS Labour's Ken Rustidge. Picture: STEVE WILLIAMS

Candidates’ electoral expenses, which have to be declared and made public by law, show the Conservative spent £15,722.12 during the ‘short campaign’ between May and the June 8 election.

His nearest challenger, Labour’s Ken Rustidge, spent £3,482.19 while the third place candidate Darren Fower, for the Liberal Democrats, spent £2,462.37.

UKIP’s Robin Talbot and the English Democrats’ Stephen Goldspink filed nil returns, meaning they spent nothing in the campaign. The Green Party’s Ruth Johnson spent £610.72, mostly on election literature.

The Green Party's Ruth Johnson. Picture: IAN CARTER The Green Party's Ruth Johnson. Picture: IAN CARTER

In total, the unsuccessful candidates spent £6,555.28, less than half what Mr Barclay - who increased his majority by 4,396, getting 21,270 votes more than the second place candidate - spent in total.

Mr Barclay, whose main spending was on leaflets and election materials delivered to voters, was not far off reaching the legal spending limit for North East Cambridgeshire, which was £16,229.67.

Chris Boden, Mr Barclay’s election agent, said he was surprised to see some candidates file nil returns but said: “Parties will tend to spend up to the limit to get their message across.

Liberal Democrat Darren Fower makes his thank-you speech following the announcement of the result for North East Cambs constituency, which was won by the Conservatives. Picture: IAN CARTER Liberal Democrat Darren Fower makes his thank-you speech following the announcement of the result for North East Cambs constituency, which was won by the Conservatives. Picture: IAN CARTER

“We had a lot of messages to get across and we spent what we thought we needed to, to get our message across.”

The Conservatives spent £2,398.43 on advertising during the campaign, with £1,000 of that going on Facebook advertising.

Unsolicited materials to voters set the party back £12,518.70, which comprised of two leaflets, an election address and calling cards, as well as the costs of paper and printing. That amount also included £4,134.31 on postage.

Robin Talbot. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY Robin Talbot. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Mr Fower spent £2,316.38 on unsolicited materials to voters, while Mr Rustidge spent £3,441.39 on election materials, including 4,000 A5 leaflets, 16,000 newsletters and a mailshot to 56,000 voters.

Mr Rustidge also sent two sets of letters, one targeted to 1,820 voters and another sent to 612 people.

Each candidate’s expenses were covered by donations from their constituency parties.

Candidates awaiting the official announcement of the result for the North East Cambs constituency earlier this year. From left, Steve Barclay (Conservative), Darren Fower (Lib Dem) and Ken Rustidge (Labour). Picture: IAN CARTER Candidates awaiting the official announcement of the result for the North East Cambs constituency earlier this year. From left, Steve Barclay (Conservative), Darren Fower (Lib Dem) and Ken Rustidge (Labour). Picture: IAN CARTER

Mr Boden added: “Political parties will typically spend much closer to the limit than their challengers. More than anything that’s to do with resource.

“The important thing is that people were given the opportunity to go out and vote for those parties.”

Mr Barclay was appointed as economic secretary to HM Treasury after the election.

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