POLITICS
05/02/2015 07:47 GMT | Updated 05/02/2015 07:59 GMT

The Tories Spend Over £1m A Year To Make You 'Like' Them (And Beat Ukip)

The Conservatives are spending over £1 million a year on getting their party greater prominence on Facebook, leading to accusations that they are just trying to stay ahead of Ukip online.

David Cameron's party spent over £100,000 each month, with invoices showing a bill for £122,814 last September and one for £114,956 last November, the BBC reported.

Ukip, which reportedly spent about £100 a month on Facebook, responded by describing their social media bill as 'bang for their buck".

A party spokesman pointed out that their party is just behind the Tories in popularity on the social network.

"Tories seem to be spending £1000s to keep ahead of Ukip," he wrote.

The Conservatives have over 341,000 likes on Facebook, Ukip have around 333,000, while the Labour party is far behind with just 211,000 likes.

Labour, who are reportedly spending around £10,000 per month on their Facebook presence, have indicated that they expect to be outspent by the Tories, but hope to beat them in the ground war with their activists.

Matthew McGregor, a former Obama adviser who is now working with the Labour Party, told the Today programme:"The fact they are outspending the Labour Party many, many times over because of the support from millionaire donors is going to have an impact.

"That's something the Labour Party can respond to by out-organising the Conservatives."

"That message suits Labour, whose supporters like to emphasise that the Conservatives have more cash. I understand Labour has been spending less than £10,000 a month on its own Facebook presence."

The Scottish National Party trails Labour, with just 181,000 likes, the Greens have around 147,000, the Liberal Democrats have just below 110,000, while Plaid Cymru has just over 12,000.

However, the Tories' massive spending on Facebook does not mean they are the biggest political group in Britain on Facebook, as the far-right protest group Britain First has nearly 650,000 likes

The far-right BNP splinter group's social media activity has been controversial as it has been regularly accused of "hijacking' emotive issues like the Remembrance Poppy or the murdered soldier Lee Rigby. Many who "like" what the group produced have been said to be unaware of the real nature of Britain First.

This comes after reports last year that the Tories spent thousands of pounds on advertising to encourage Facebook users to “like” David Cameron’s page, provoking another wave of mockery.

Labour MP Sheila Gilmore said: “It looks as if David Cameron is buying popularity. There is no end to his ego, paying for fake Facebook friends.”

Meanwhile, a Lib Dem insider said the strategy was "pretty pathetic".

Read more on General Election 2015