The Budget Cap – How Have The Candidates Spent Their Money?

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Out of all the changes to this year’s Exec elections, it is probably the £100 budget imposed by current VP Democracy and Communications Ali Cole that has got the most people talking. When asked about his choice to implement a £100 limit for campaigns; Cole commented, “The reason I did it was because I thought that the unlimited budget cap was getting ridiculous.” Cole, who spent £150 alone on his star costume, told Label “I think it’s opened the door to more people.”

With previous election candidates spending up to £1500 on their campaign, it would at first seem impossible to stay within the new £100 budget limit. However, that is what this year’s candidates have had to face.

Most candidates happily accepted the budget change, with VP Education candidate Becky Lauder-Fletcher commenting, “I didn’t want to spend lots of money – I don’t think it’s necessary.” AU President candidate Jennie Cooper told Label “I really welcome the budget change because I couldn’t have ran if that hadn’t have happened.” Yet VP Welfare and Diversity candidate Isobel Ford said, “I think £100 is too low,” believing a budget of around £250 would have been fairer.

So what have the candidates spent their £100 on? This year’s candidates have had to factor the price of their costume into their budget. VP Welfare and Diversity candidate Dave Tingle admits to spending a quarter of his budget just on his Pringle tube costume, whilst Soc Fed President candidate Georgia Cheyne has spent only £11.80 on her Ginger Spice Union Jack dress. Action Chair candidate Sarah Haar believes her costume is very important for her campaign; she told Label “so far I have spent [money]on costumes, so I can really spread the love, and make sure people see me around campus. I think it’s really important to make people aware that I am here.” Rag Chair candidate Mike Lyness told us “I want to spend the least amount I can,” saying “I’m so against the way Loughborough works with the huge emphasis on image, especially stuff like flying your money around in Exec Elections,” and is therefore likely to have welcomed this budget limit. VP Finance candidate Zak Evans admits to using materials from his previous campaign, telling Label “my manifesto is all about doing more for less, which relates to a budget.”

This year, it is obvious that candidates have had to be more resourceful with their costumes, with some candidates, such as VP Democracy and Communications candidate David Haines choosing to run without a costume, saying “all the things in my campaign this year are what I predominantly own anyway, which I think is what should be encouraged more often.”

The £100 budget cap has also affected the other common campaigning methods, such as banners and t-shirts. Most candidates are allocating a portion of their budget for t-shirts; AU President candidate Tim Jenkins believes “I think the best way to really get an image out there is through a collection of t-shirts that have all got the same branding on them, and can be worn around and on nights out.” Action Chair candidate Michael Jordan had spent £50 of his budget at the time of his interview last week, with the majority of that being on t-shirts and baseball caps, linked to his campaign. Isobel Ford, who told us the budget cap “has made some things like t-shirts more difficult to buy,” has allocated a large proportion of her budget on t-shirts. Rag Chair candidate Paul Nanson told us he has spent £35 on just eight hand-made t-shirts, perhaps finding himself in a similar situation to Dave Tingle, who admits “I have a few t-shirts, but not as many as I would have had under the old rules.” 

Candidates have also had to be more creative and resourceful with their banners and posters. Becky Lauder-Fletcher admits to contacting local businesses for free business cards, whilst Zak Evans has been visiting bars in town to ask for old banners to use. Paul Nanson told Label “I’ve made some photo boards that people can hold up and put their heads in: Interactive stuff that people can actually use.” Candidates have admitted that the budget cap has made them a lot more wary of what they spend money on; Jennie Cooper admits “It is hard, but it forces you to be creative, and I think that as a member of exec that is a vital skill that you will need.” 

So how will the budget cap affect sweets? Seen in previous years as being the key to winning votes: Zak Evans believes “people will vote because of sweets, that’s a given fact.” Unfortunately for voters, the volume of sweets is going to suffer. Forget walking to lectures and having candidates throwing sweets at you; Becky Lauder-Fletcher plans to make students work for their sweets, by having them take part in activities for her campaign. Sarah Haar admits to not having spent as much on sweets as she would have done without the £100 limit. Candidates this year have placed more emphasis on talking to students and hearing their thoughts; this is certainly a technique that Union President candidate Josh Hurrell is using.

Most candidates have planned their budget carefully, with some keeping money to one side, expecting to need it during the ten-day campaign period. With the Elections well underway, it will be interesting to see other changes to this year’s campaigning in response to the £100 budget cap…

Maybe the thoughts of our current Executive will influence any changes: See what they would change from their campaigns last year under the new budget cap by reading Chloe Fallon's article via the link here.

Make sure you vote for your preferred candidates on http://www.lufbra.net/elections2013/ by Wednesday at 6pm. But make sure you find out about your right to 'no vote' candidates you feel aren't up for the job by reading our #RememberRON article right here.

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