After Zelo Street looked at the resources the Tories threw into securing the re-election of Simon Kirby in Brighton Kemptown, and the situation in nearby Hove was touched upon, more information has come in on the failed campaign of Graham Cox, giving some idea of the amounts of money being spent locally - and not being declared locally. Cox, like Kirby, made extensive use of activists sent from outside the area.
The extent of this activity can be seen in the later stages of the election campaign. As with the efforts in Brighton Kemptown, there was a big push on the last weekend of April, with an invite telling “We are running a big action day on Friday 24th April! Here's the plan: We'll be meeting in 145 Sackville Road, Hove, BN3 3HD, at 10:00am sharp on Friday 24th April, before heading out for an action-packed campaigning stint, including free drinks”.
Yes, a “Super Friday”, and on the same day as a similar exercise in Kemptown. And it carried on in to the next day. A “Super Saturday” was duly advertised. More free drinks were offered upfront. And then the thought occurs: did all those activists return home on the Friday evening, only to have to travel all the way back to Hove the next day? Were they put up in local hotels - and if so, who paid? It’s not on Cox’s expense return.
That wasn’t all: quite apart from the “Battle Bus” which visited Hove on polling day, there was one last canvassing push two days before the General Election, which involved another of those “virtual buses” of activists dispatched from London by train. The Tory faithful converged on the capital’s Victoria terminus for yet another excursion that managed not to feature on the candidate’s expense return.
And typical of those faithful souls heading out from Victoria mid-week was Souheir Mortada, who let her Twitter followers know “Heading to london #Victoria station to join @Team2015 to #Hove”. By the afternoon, she Tweeted out a photo showing quite a large group of canvassers: “Great day Canvasing for #GrahamCox in #Hove”. Ms Mortada also let everyone know that the Tories were sending the big guns to Hove.
Yes, although he was standing as a candidate himself, the increasingly occasional London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was also dispatched to the south coast: “Amazing to meet @MayorofLondon while #canvasing #Hove #VoteConservative” said Ms Mortada approvingly. And Bozza was not the only Tory candidate drafted in from outside the constituency, as Clarence Mitchell has revealed.
The PR man, who was standing for the Tories in next door Brighton Pavilion, also snapped the group of activists, telling “With great @Team2015 turnout for @CoxGraham in next door #Hove, then canvass/deliveries before back to #Pavilion”. The party was clearly putting most effort into Hove and Kemptown, realising that Mitchell was not going to trouble Caroline Lucas. But none of this effort is reflected in Cox’s expense return.
Even if he lost, it doesn’t excuse what appear to be missing costs. Rather a lot of them.