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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 20:11 GMT 21:11 UK
Election make-up costs revealed
Labour activists targeting John Redwood during the election
Labour spent 300 on Star Trek costumes to taunt John Redwood
The cost of making party leaders look good during the election campaign has been revealed.

Ex-Tory leader Michael Howard spent 3,600 on make-up during campaign. Lib Dem Charles Kennedy spent 2,000 on cosmetics and nearly 5,000 on suits.

The details from the Electoral Commission follows news that Cherie Blair billed Labour 7,700 for hairdressing during the election.

Labour and the Tories also spent more than 1m on outside consultants.

The figures also reveal how thousands of pounds went on fancy dress costumes as the parties tried to inject some humour with pre-poll pranks.

Even if I were to look like a supermodel at the end of it, I wouldn't spend that much on my hair
Ann Widdecombe

Labour spent 300 on Star Trek outfits in order to undermine an event being held by Tory former Cabinet Minister John Redwood.

The Tories spent 3,500 on "Ground Hog Day" costumes imported from America.

And the Liberal Democrats spent 4,800 on six suits for Mr Kennedy.

Overseas consultants

Mark Penn, the pollster and former adviser to Bill Clinton, charged Labour 530,000 for his political consultancy.

Former Downing Street media chief Alastair Campbell billed Labour 47,000 for his help on the campaign, and pollster Philip Gould cost the party 143,011.

The Conservatives spent 441,146 on hiring Australian election guru Lynton Crosby and another 308,143 on tracker polls.

Details of the party election accounts will fuel the debate about how the political parties should be funded.

'Go cheaper'

There are calls for an increase in state funding to meet the gap left by stricter limits on donations from wealthy backers.

Former independent MP Martin Bell said that he thought the figures would blow that possibility "out of the water".

An image of BBC political editor Nick Robinson
Cherie Blair and Michael Howard's paranoia may save you a fortune
BBC political editor Nick Robinson

The anti-sleaze campaigner told BBC 2's Newsnight: "It has been a very good day for democracy because this completely blows out of the water the case for the public funding of political parties at taxpayers' expense.

"Are we really saying that money that could go to schools and hospitals, the armed forces and police should go to Groundhog Day outfits and make-up?

"The answer has to be cheap campaigns - cutting back on the negative advertising and putting it within the power of the party's ordinary supporters to fund the campaigns."

'Extreme sums'

According to figures unveiled last week, Mrs Blair's hairstyling cost 275 per day in the month leading up to the polls.

Tory ex-Cabinet minister Ann Widdecombe questioned whether such "vast" amounts of money needed to be spent on image.

"I fully understand why somebody wants to look their best, but I think it comes down to proportionality," she told BBC News 24.

She said that unlike Mr Howard, Mrs Blair had not actually been fighting the election.

And she argued that the 275 daily cost of Mrs Blair's hair had to be compared with the amount a pensioner has to live on.

"Even if I were to look like a supermodel at the end of it, I wouldn't spend that much on my hair," said Miss Widdecombe, whose darker locks are dyed blonde.

"I think these sums are pretty extreme. Margaret Thatcher never had a hair out of place - I bet you Denis paid for it."

Value for money?

The Electoral Commission requires political parties to submit all their invoices for the election campaign.

Tory MP Ed Vaizey said people might well argue about whether or not his party should have spent so much on groundhog suits.

"But generally speaking the large part of the bill is spent on the sort of things you would expect a party to spend money which is advertising sites, direct mail and literature," he said.

Labour former minister Peter Kilfoyle said his party had not got value for money, especially as it lost many votes at the last election.

"Most of this is superfluous - I don't believe it serves the kind of purpose that people would have you believe," he said.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See what the parties spent money on during the election campaign



SEE ALSO:
Labour defends Cherie's hair bill
21 Apr 06 |  UK Politics


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