In Depth

General election: Labour spent £600 on chicken suits

Electoral Commission reveals costs of parties' campaigns, with Tories targeting Facebook ads to win over voters

Labour spent almost £600 on fancy dress chicken suits during last year's general election campaign, according to new figures released by the Electoral Commission.

The party has a "track record" of using the costumes in its campaigns, says The Independent, after paying someone to wear one and chase London Mayor Boris Johnson down the street in 2012.

However, a breakdown of party spending in the run-up to May's election shows the Conservatives spent the most during the campaign, coming in at £15.5m, compared to Labour's £12m.

Media blog Guido Fawkes reports that 15 per cent of total Tory expenditure – some £2.4m - went straight to the communications company of their chief political strategist Lynton Crosby, who later received an honorary knighthood for his services in the New Year's honours list.

Ukip spent money most efficiently, paying out an average of 73p per vote, compared to £1.46 per vote spent by the Lib Dems.

The greatest differential in spending came in unregulated digital advertising, with the Conservatives spending £1.2m on Facebook ads while Labour spent just £16,455.

Conservative Party strategists have said it was targeting the social media site that enabled them to win key marginal seats.

"We tested everything: display advertising, Google AdWords, Facebook - we found unequivocally that Facebook was the easiest way to reach the people we wanted to reach in the places we wanted to reach them," chief digital strategist Craig Elder told Buzzfeed News.

He added that Twitter mainly appealed to journalists and people already engaged with politics who were unlikely to change their minds.

"Last time [2010], everyone talked about how it was the first social-media election," he said. "This time around, it actually was and no one noticed."

An internal report on the causes of Labour's election defeat released earlier this month exonerated its campaign and instead focussed on issues of economic credibility and competence.

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