What was the price of success for the candidates contesting May's general election? Chief reporter IAN PROCTOR pored over the receipts to separate the big spenders from the thrifty

CANDIDATES who won in Harrow West and Harrow East at May's general election each outspent their nearest rivals on campaigning by almost £7,000, it has been revealed.

Details of each candidate's income and expenditure during the election have to be made available for inspection by the public for up to two years after a general election. The expenses from

May's election have recently been published for the first time.

Receipts show that, at £1.44 a vote, it cost Gareth Thomas MP a little more than £29,000 to hold on to his Harrow West seat for Labour for a fourth parliamentary term ahead of Conservative rival Dr Rachel Joyce.

The situation was reversed in neighbouring Harrow East where Labour incumbent Tony McNulty was dumped in favour of Tory Bob Blackman, whose expenses totalled just under £25,000, and who polled 21,435 votes.

The amount each candidate could spend is limited by law to a figure based on the number of registered voters in each constituency on the day the poll is announced.

Aside from the usual leaflets and letters that major parties buy in bulk,

Mr Thomas sponsored Wealdstone FC's home match against Carshalton Athletic in April for £150.

He also published joint general and local election adverts with the Harrow East Labour Party in Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar newspapers.

Mr Thomas, defending the amount spent, said: "We worked hard to explain why we thought Labour should win and if you want to do that, as well as knocking on doors and producing leaflets, it costs money.

"Each year, I sponsor local football teams and this year it was Wealdstone FC. I always sponsor the last home game of the season and this year the game coincided with the election campaign and I thought it was right that I declare that expenditure in the election expenses."

Mr McNulty, who also published adverts in niche newspapers, had the majority of his expenses met by donations from his constituency Labour party and in part by Wealdstone Labour Hall and the GMB union.

Harrow East Conservative Association shouldered the majority of Mr Blackman's expenditure, with a few hundred pounds from the Conservative group on Harrow Council.

In contrast, Dr Joyce received at least 18 individual donations from Conservative councillors and residents as well as money from the British Tamil Conservatives, United and Cecil Club and Harrow West Conservative Association, among several other groups.

Dr Joyce said: "Literature costs money and we had a dynamic campaign and raised as much as we could, mostly from local donations, and it wasn't quite good enough. "Gareth said in his victory speech that he was fighting against lots of Lord Ashcroft money but actually, we weren't 'full of Ashcroft money' and I think what he said was very ungentlemanly to be honest, when he had no evidence.

"Gareth had a £10,000 MP's annual communications allowance and used it right up to the deadline to promote himself."

Candidates spending the least on their campaign were the Green Party's Andrew Langley in Harrow West, who spent £30 and Harrow East's Madeline Atkins who spent nothing.



* Gareth Thomas MP (Lab) £29,138.86, 20,111 votes

* Rachel Joyce (Con) £22,395.77, 16,968 votes

 * Christopher Noyce (Lib Dem) £1,556.31, 7,458 votes

* Herbert Crossman (UKIP) £796.43, 954 votes

* Andrew Langley (Green) £30, 625 votes


* Bob Blackman MP (Con) £24,416.68, 21,435 votes

* Tony McNulty (Lab) £17,586.61, 18,032 votes

* Nahid Boethe (Lib Dem) £2,832.48, 6,850 votes

* Abhijit Pandya (UKIP) £167.50, 896 votes 

* Madeline Atkins (Green) £0, 793 votes