The 2015 general election promises to be the tightest contest for years but its outcome will be determined by about 100 swing seats. This is because 90% of the UK’s 650 constituencies are usually retained by the incumbent party.
With 10 months until the expected polling date, Bureau analysis shows the Conservatives have attracted much more funding in the 20 tightest marginals than both its two main rivals combined.
Overall, the Conservatives have received donations totaling £321,181 in the Britain’s 20 tightest constituencies – £138,129 more than its nearest rival which is, perhaps surprisingly, the Liberal Democrats.
In half the 20 tightest marginals, the Conservatives have a funding lead. Funding has poured particularly heavily into Stockton South where the party is defending a wafer-thin 332 majority over Labour whose funding push in the constituency appears to have barely got off the ground.
The Conservatives have also seen significant cash pour into Hampstead and Kilburn where Labour has a mere 42 vote advantage over the Tories in what is very much a three-way marginal.
Lib Dem funding
The Lib Dems have attracted strong funding in the three marginal seats they are defending.
In these seats, the Lib Dems have attracted £134,853. This gives the party a clear funding lead over the Conservatives and Labour. In Solihull, however, the Conservatives, where the party has accepted £21,000 in cash, have near equal funding to the Lib Dem’s.
Another constituency where the Lib Dems are ahead is in Conservative-held Camborne & Redruth. Here sitting MP George Eustace has a majority of just 66.
Labour has the most cash in the battleground seats of Sheffield Central, Edinburgh South and Bolton West where it is also the incumbent.
The total amount it has received in these three seats combined is just £15,250 – a relatively small figure. In fact Labour has so far received the lowest amount of cash in battleground seats – just £74,545.
Biggest marginal donor
The biggest individual funder among the 20 tightest marginals is the Broadstone & District Liberal Hall Committee which has poured £54,241 into defending the Lib Dems 269 vote majority in Dorset Mid and Poole North.
Other major funders include the low profile United & Cecil Club which has donated £45,600 in many of the 20 target seats.
The United & Cecil is the biggest funder across all Conservative constituencies having stumped up over £280,000 since May 2010.
In the first quarter of this year alone, the U&C Club has given almost as much to candidates as it did in the whole of last year. Most of the cash is targeted at key swing seats.
Among major Labour donors in marginals are the GMB and Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers which combined have donated £36,983 in the 20 marginals.
Outside of the top 20 tightest marginals, the Tories are also doing well in the fundraising stakes. Of the declared Conservative candidates, David Warburton, who will contest the Lib Dem seat of Somerton and Frome, has received the most cash with almost £54,000 since 2010. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, fighting Berwick-upon-Tweed, another Lib Dem seat, has received almost £36,000. Michelle Donelan, bidding to take the Lib Dem seat of Chippenham, has received £22,500 in donations and Rebecca Pow, targeting the Lib Dem seat of Taunton Deane, almost £10,000.
According to Electoral Commission records, Alexander Temerko, a Russian businessman who paid £90,000 for a bust of David Cameron at last year’s Tory party fundraiser, has donated almost £9,000 in campaign materials to Trevelyan and has also backed Tory MPs Michael Ellis, James Wharton and Guto Bebb, all of whom command slim majorities. The Russian now lives in the UK and has offshore wind interests in the north east.
The UK constituency that has received by far the most cash from any party is Finchley & Golders Green – Margaret Thatcher’s old stomping ground. In the last election, this was considered a prime Labour target seat. But Cameron’s Conservatives extended what in 2005 was a slim majority. With less than a year to the next poll, Conservative party supporters have contributed £369,737 to the constituency since May 2010.
The next most cash rich seat is a Conservative stronghold: Surrey Heath, where former education secretary, Michael Gove is the incumbent. Donors have given Gove’s seat £211,553.
The Conservatives have also received significant funding into Labour’s Nottingham South. In the last election, the Conservatives secured a 7.4% swing from Labour who held the seat with a majority of 1,772.
Labour has seen received its biggest donations in Newham (£200,500), Manchester (£160,829) and Tower Hamlets (£142,216).
The Lib Dems’ best funded seat is the Cumbrian constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale where party president Tim Farron last time secured 60% of the vote. Farron’s constituency has so far received £200,388.
The party has seen £194,621 pour into Bermondsey & Old Southwark where justice minister and civil liberties minister, Simon Hughes defends an 8,530 majority.