Electoral Fraud Results! The story so far…

Off shoot blog from the General Election blogs- here are parts 1 and parts 2

The Conservative Electoral Fraud.

Prosecutors are gearing up to produce decisions on this this week. Some outlets are saying tomorrow (10/05/17). And on files they have received from 15 police forces before Thursday’s deadline for candidates. Little wonder we’re beginning to see even Conservative bloggers have not enough faith in her and their party to even vote blue come June. Here’s one example (though they don’t mention the fraud.) The CPS, to the surprise of few, today (10/05/17) have decided not to press charges for those 12-15 MPs under investigation, despite the fact that the Electoral Commission adjudged the Conservatives to have broken parliamentary rules enough to fine them the maximum possible penalty of £70,000 in March (2017). But what about the other 15? The problem cited was insufficient evidence to make a criminal case. However, what the CPS are saying and what the party chairman are saying are two very different things. The Conservative Party Chairman, McLoughlin,  said the situation had been exacerbated by “false and malicious claims” about Conservative candidates on the internet. “After a very thorough investigation, we are pleased that the legal authorities have confirmed what we believed was the case all along, that these [Conservative] candidates did nothing wrong.” No, McLoughlin, ‘insufficient evidence’ does not mean ‘innocent’. And this was a declaration about only half the claims, and they are looking further into one claim into particular (South Thanet)Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC: “I am interested and surprised by it. We will have to look at the details.” Here is his statement in full:

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The decision has caused a lot of anger in voters across the country if comments on news articles is any indication, with the majority feeling

  • it’s a put up job,
  • having less confidence in the CPS as a result; (worrying) especially when one considers that the Chilcot, Orgreave and Hillsborough Reports, bankers’ corruption, widescale allegations of paedophilia (see below and this for example) and the Saudi Arms controversy also resulted in no prosecutions
  • demands for what evidence the CPS DO have to be published
  • that Labour‘ did it, calling it a smear
  • that the Conservatives are gleefully flouting the edges of the law, citing deep seated and chronic corruption abetted by a complicit media
  • that the Conservatives ‘buy elections’
  • that now the Conservatives have a free pass to use the money they get (far in excess of any other party) in donations to further skirt the law, citing that as undemocratic.

But the general consensus is that yet again there is one rule for the rich and another for the poor. We may find that, whatever the CPS decide/d, this polarises potential voting still further. However what we do know is that the Conservatives will have no interest in any reform of electoral process or law while they are in power and hold all the ‘notes’ and the cards; and have all the donors, if this list from 2015 is accurate. Labour (as do the Lib Dems, SNP, and the Greens) do have an interest in and a body for promoting electoral reform but this appears to be more the voting system itself than on spending. If they are wise, they will widen their brief. If the Collins Report of 2014 on Labour spending (here) is any indication, they may well do that. And should they make it a public part of the manifesto (which has not yet been released for any party), could be a vote winner.

The problem is, most parties have been caught out by electoral spending irregularities in the past. The Lib Dems were fined £20,000 for it in 2016 (though if these fines are given out on a sliding scale and the Lib Dems‘ amount in abeyance at that time was £184,676, can we assume that the Conservative overspend was at least 3.5 times that much, as they were fined £70,000?) Labour were too, again £20,000. UKIP have been under investigation for election overspending since November 2016. All of these were general election spending. The other parties appear to keep their spending well within proper limits. Here is a previous tables for election spending (2010), and for more, and on different election campaigns, see this list of tables from the Electoral Commission website.

spending 2010 copy

What is immediately apparent is that the Conservatives spend double (this trend is also played out on the EC site) Labour, and as much as all the other parties put together.)

So, yes, the public perception of the Conservatives ‘buying elections’ is hard to dispute.

And yes there are spending limits, set by the Electoral Commission, for election spending. It depends on type of election and is divided into:

  1. Candidate spending and
  2. Party campaign spending.

But an upper limit is practically impossible to discover on the site. Searching for an actual figure just takes you round in circles in the site navigation. It does beg the question though: how come these irregularities by the Lib Dems and Labour in 2016 were investigated, exposed and fined over six months ago but we’re still being d*cked about when it comes to the Conservative ones…

As Owen Jones says: “”Legal” and “the right thing to do” are not the same thing. If the law allows bad things to happen, then the law has to be changed.”

David Allen Green laid it out like this:

But for many, who do not have this level of expertise, anger is inevitable, and for me, who has some knowledge of it, while intellectually I can see Green is right, the whole thing has left a very bad taste in the mouth. I know he is right, but I don’t have to like it. 

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for the ‘ordinary person’. If, say, you drive 42mph in a 30 zone but you’re new to the area and the rest of the road was a 40mph zone, you’re still going to get a fine, points on your licence and/or court for that stretch of road where you didn’t slow down to 30 if caught by a cam. 

So neither ‘complexity’ nor ‘ignorance’ of electoral law can be used as a loophole.

And neither do I like the selenium-grade-smuggery that is back on the Conservatives‘ faces after being in hiding for three weeks, suggesting they’ll sue anyone today (10/05/17) who talks of the fraud, before the ink is barely dry on the reports. They’d better sue the CPS then as they said there was ‘insufficient evidence’ for a full criminal trial, not that the Conservatives were innocent.

If they were ‘innocent’, the EC would not have fined them the top whack of £70,000 (see above).

A cross-party UPPER SPENDING FIGURE needs to be set NOW and be in the public domain for candidates, local and general elections. They (the Electoral Commission and the parties) have enough data to see what IS spent. Perhaps a mean of what the parties spend should be the case, per country, and taking those 2010 figures that ABSOLUTE UPPER LIMIT would be:

£6, 281, 759 for all parties that have English only seats to fight for (SNP and PC of course only fight in Scotland and Wales respectively) oddly enough this is almost exactly what Labour did spend in 2010.

£ 756,852 for all the parties that have Scottish seats to fight for (about £200,000 less than Labour currently spend and a whopping £516,527 under what the Conservatives spent)

and £ 527,897 for all the parties that have Welsh seats to fight for (again, almost exactly what Labour spend.)

I’d do the same for Northern Ireland but at present do not have the figures.

As well as inducement, like the Collins report noted above, to spend as little as possible on them. Some expenses are unavoidable. But Parliament is on shaky ground for the amount of expenses it can claim when the average person does not get travel, accommodation or other expenses whilst earning far less. Of course this should be linked to inflation.

Along with

  1. maximum spend limit,
  2. reform on donations/ party funding,
  3. and indeed MP expenses,

is also long overdue. As far back as 2009 Labour wanted this  as did the Lib Dems; and the Greens are reknown for wanting large scale reform, especially after a series of cross party scandals in 2009, but Cameron only wanted it for ‘excessive spending’ (whatever that means). Gordon Brown did make some serious moves on this issue in 2009; Plaid Cymru supported them- and as far as I know, still do. The SNP are also facing more recent expenses issues though were never fined, but do not appear to have any documentation in the public demain for any reform on this. And as for UKIP, Nuttall does want reform  (the website is down), especially in MP expenses, but Farage never did, not surprising really as the latter’s expenses sheet was risible.

Another aspect to this is the ‘dirt-digging’ done, even by the ‘right leaning’ MSM outlets on Alison Saunders, the CPS director, even before these results came. The Telegraph for example, in April 2015, cites instances of

  • her own ‘excessive spending’ and
  • throw in that her husband Neil, a defence barrister, is listed by Companies House as a member of a film industry investment scheme which is being pursued by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • plus criticism of her handling of past cases, including child sex abuse cases. (A classic trigger mechanism used by the MSM to manufacture outrage™.)

So did the Guardian  and the Independent. Depending on how long people’s memories are, (and people™ tend to remember the ‘failings’ of women for longer than they do of men) this in my view could backfire somewhat as some could link these allegations- and those listed above-and suspect that similar laxity was used on the Conservative MP’s cases.

And for more on this, I recommend the Secret Barrister’s article, where he especially notes Theresa May’s public statment:

“The CPS has decided – they are an independent body – they have decided that no charges will be brought against any candidate in relation to this matter. Candidates did nothing wrong. It’s very important and I repeat that – I have said it many times – candidates did nothing wrong.”

and

“[The CPS] confirmed what we believed all along” – that “local spending was properly reported”.

Is she lying?

Yes. Brazenly. The CPS in fact said the opposite, concluding, as we’ve seen, that there was evidence to support a prosecution of failing to submit true expenditure reports, but declined to prosecute as an act of clemency on public interest grounds. [my italics].

Should any more development occur on the remaining 15 cases, and South Thanet, I will add them here.

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