Since the budget cap was announced back at the end of 2012 for this year’s executive election, VP Democracy and Communications Ali Cole’s radical decision to change the way in which elections is run has been widely talked about on campus.

Whether or not £100 is too high or too low will remain to be seen, we could be waiting a couple of years before the impact of this change is fully seen as many current students will be used to the spectacle of previous elections. Cole himself is fully away that the dramatic change “will need to build culturally before everyone relaxes a little bit about it before it will work effectively as possible.”

Having spoken to past candidates and campaign teams, it is quite clear that many believe past elections lost sight of what was really important, the candidate and what they could bring to the role, and instead became a game of who could spend the most, create the most professional t-shirts and ultimately who had the best sweets. 

That’s not to say candidates who had all that weren’t right for the job, far from it as, having to spoken to three different current Exec members, all of them agreed that the facade of consumables and aesthetics was an unnecessary pressure on candidates and that some people just voted purely on shallow reasoning. 

Cole’s budget cap plans to eradicate that issue, and bring it back to a much more personable level. It also opens the elections up to students who may have felt in the past that they couldn’t compete with the high level of spending, which ultimately landed a lot of candidates in debt. “The reason I did it was because I thought that the unlimited budget cap was getting ridiculous. My intention was to make it more accessible to all students, that was my priority.”

Running for an Exec position is like applying for any other job in that you’re taking a risk, sometimes it pays off; other times it doesn’t, which can be even more devastating if you’ve spent over £500 like many prior candidates.

So while the £100 budget cap seems to be in high favour with the majority, could the Executive actually put their money where their mouth is (excuse the phrase) and run their own campaign on the same budget? 

1.How much did you spend on your campaign last year, and any big expenses?

Ali Cole – “About £600, £150 of that on a giant star costume from China, which was cheaper than if I brought it in the UK.”

Max Turner – “£400 but I think if I was contested I would’ve spent more. Professionally done t-shirts were my biggest expense, which were £125 total.”

Lazar Zindovic – “In the region of £850-900. Sweets and consumables £300-400.”

2. Do you think you could do your campaign again on £100?

AC – “I think I’d do the same theme, colour and same art work. Allow £20 for costume. Posters are free and homemade t-shirts, so maybe £10 on yellow t-shirts and iron on transfers so another £10 for that. This is hard. How much do I have left now?

Try and be creative to see if I could get some freebies like cardboard from Sainsbury’s or go to charity shops. Oh I forgot I loved my stamp last year! But it was £25, which is quite a bit, but it lasted sixteen days. With a stamp you can get people when they’re drunk on nights out and they’ll see it in the morning. You can joke it’s a free entry stamp and use it during the day!”

MT – “I’d get rid of sweets. They’re not a necessity at all, I was very fortunate because one of my friends was amazing with Photoshop so all my artwork for posters and social media was all done for free. I could’ve gone to Primark and got some iron on transfers.

My banner was my favourite thing because it looked so cool, but it wasn’t a necessity. The way in which elections evolved is that there were certain things that you had to have because otherwise it looked like you weren’t making an effort. My costume would been the same I already owned the blazer, I had to buy a pair of trousers but the shoes, bowties I already owned and the Sonic Screwdriver was my brother’s.”

LZ- “I would’ve had to have been a lot more resourceful but with no budget cap I never wanted to jeopardise the quality of anything I produced: So I wanted the best t-shirts, best paints that won’t wash off. I wouldn’t buy any sweets at all; it’s a waste of money. I’d make t-shirts or buy cheaper t-shirts and dye them or use marker pen.”

3. Do you think the cut from sixteen to ten days was necessary for the budget cap to be effective?

AC- “I think candidates could do sixteen days on £100 but I think the main reason for the time cut was for the candidates to have less time because it’s tiring. It’s not just them, it’s their campaign teams. Campaign teams in the past have lost interest after week and media coverage wise there’s so much to do.”

MT- “You don’t need sixteen days for a start, regardless of much you spend on your campaign. If you’re going to seriously go for it you can talk to a lot of people in ten days. Potentially, there is a problem with less exposure and grandness of campaigning, so potentially voting numbers may go down. However, with that said and taking the priority of speaking to voters, then the voters are going to be much more informed. It’s far better to have 4000 informed people voting than 6000 voting because you gave them free sweets.”

LZ- “I personally thought sixteen days was too long, and I felt I spent more money because of the sixteen days. I think the cut does suit the budget because you can have enough resources for the whole of campaigning.”

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