Recent media reports have suggested Boris Johnson intends to spend £1.2 million on his Mayoral campaign, a huge sum and an interesting one given that rules prevent candidates spending no more than £420,000 once spending limits kick in on March 18th.
This means the Johnson camp would need to spend two thirds of their projected cash ahead of the official start of campaigning, itself almost two full months ahead of polling day. That’s a lot of money to spend when most of the electorate won’t be paying attention.
We emailed Team Johnson to ask
“i. if the £1.2m figure is accurate
ii. how and when you expect to spend the £800,000 over and above permissible election spending?”
These are pretty simple questions and as election spending tends to be on big public things we didn’t think the answer could be especially sensitive.
Judging from their response Team Johnson clearly think otherwise
“We disclose financial information about the campaign when the electoral commission requires us to – they ask for names and details of amounts given but do not ask for information on what we spend it on. I’m afraid i am unable to disclose how much is spent on each area of campaigning.”
Readers will note that this response fails to deny the reported £1.2million, address the specific questions asked or even acknowledge the legal cap on spending – a surprisingly defensive approach for a candidate who promises to be “accountable and open to scrutiny” if elected on May 1st.
More surprising is the second part of Team Johnson’s response
“Since the current Mayor is currently running his campaign from City Hall, perhaps you can ask him the same questions and enlighten us on when he intents to stop using city hall staff for election purposes?”
Even after several readings it’s unclear if this is just unprofessional sarcasm in response to a legitimate question and Londoners are still none the wiser as to how Boris intends to spend almost three times more than the permitted maximum.
At some point one of the national papers will work out the difference between £1.2 million and £420,000 and it’s doubtful sarcastic emails will be a sufficient answer then.