You get what you (don't) pay for: the impact of volunteer labour and candidate spending at the 2010 British General Election

Justin Fisher*, Ron Johnston, David Cutts, Charles Pattie, Edward Fieldhouse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Repeated evidence in Britain demonstrates the positive electoral payoffs from constituency campaigning. However, the impact of such campaigning varies depending upon the electoral context and the effectiveness of campaign management. Debate also exists in respect of the relative impact of traditional versus more modern campaign techniques, as well as between campaign techniques that incur cost and those that are carried out voluntarily. Such debates are of interest not only to academics and political parties, but also to regulators when considering whether to restrict campaign spending in the interests of electoral parity. This article uses candidate spending data and responses to an extensive survey of election agents at the British General Election of 2010 to assess the impact of both campaign expenditure and free, voluntary labour on electoral performance. It suggests that both have some independent impact, but that impact varies by party. The implications of these results are highly significant in both academic and regulatory terms - campaign expenditure can affect electoral outcomes but these effects are offset to some extent by voluntary efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-824
Number of pages21
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2013. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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