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Report: the more Lib Dems spent on a seat, the more votes they lost

A new report on openDemocracyUK reveals how the Liberal Democrats squandered thousands on no-hope Clegg loyalists whilst cutting out incumbent MPs who went on to narrowly miss-out.

Nick Clegg, by David Spender

A new report by Seth Thévoz, published by openDemocracyUK today, gives some incredible detail on one of the most dramatic stories of last year’s election.

The thorough interrogation of Liberal Democrat expenditure, by academic, researcher and party activist Dr Seth Thévoz leads to some surprising revelations, including:

- Whilst several incumbent MPs who came close to retaining their seats, including prominent rebels like Greg Mulholland, were cut off from party funding, front bench MPs and other Clegg loyalists with little chance of retaining or winning their seats, like Danny Alexander, saw vast expenditure on their seats.

- Huge amounts of money were raised by the Sheffield Lib Dems, who ensured the re-election of Clegg himself in Sheffield Hallam – sums equivalent to a “Half-dozen or more under-resourced seats which may well have been sacrificed in favour of Hallam”.

- That “on average, the more money Lib Dems raised in a seat, the more votes were lost in that seat — as voters heard the party’s 2015 message in the places that the party could afford to campaign the most, they were actively repelled from voting for the party”.

- Lib Dem internal polling amounted to little more than an exercise in comforting themselves.

Thévoz describes the Lib Dem’s 2015 campaign as a “bonfire of party donations”.

You can read the full report here.

About the author

Adam Ramsay is the co-editor of openDemocracyUK and also works with Bright Green. Before, he was a full-time campaigner with People & Planet. You can follow him at @adamramsay.

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