Saturday, 4 June 2016

Let the police do their duty in South Thanet

I handed my election expenses in to the local council yesterday, I declared all the spending that I did during my hard fought campaign last month and I am quite happy if the police want to check that I have declared everything properly, after all the spending limit is a key plant of ensuring fairness during elections and that no party effectively buys votes by over spending. I doubt the police will be interested in my nil return but fortunately they seem very interested in the Tories return in South Thanet.

The Tories seem a little upset about this and earlier this week tried to stop the police doing their duty (which I thought was a crime in its own right). If there is any question of wrong doing then surely the Conservatives should be the first to call for a full investigation to ensure that they are exonerated? (n.b. my tongue is now wedged firmly in my cheek and may take some time to remove).

Interestingly too, this nuance seemed to be downplayed by both the BBC and Kent Online. Given that this is potentially more serious that the expenses scandals with up to 30 Tory MPs potentially convicted for fraud, losing their seats and a general election once the Tory majority disappears, I find it hard to believe that this isn't getting equal coverage with the EU ref.

Of course the Tories have refused to cooperate fully with the Electoral Commission too. Bob Posner, Director of Party and Election Finance & Legal Counsel at the Electoral Commission said:
“If parties under investigation do not comply with our requirements for the disclosure of relevant material in reasonable time and after sufficient opportunity to do so, the Commission can seek recourse through the courts. We are today asking the court to require the Party to fully disclose the documents and information we regard as necessary to effectively progress our investigation into the Party’s campaign spending returns.”

Media reports that the spending in South Thanet was £20k over the £15k limit, i.e. the Tories may have spent more than twice the amount they are allowed (and more than twice the amount their opponents spent) to win the election. If this is true, it is a massive electoral fraud by the party that is governing our country. This level of electoral fraud would usually have the US talking about regime change!

The Tories are fighting hard to stop the investigation and there is usually only one reason for that, so what happens if they are found guilty? Of course the candidates and their agents would face up to one year in jail each or an unlimited fine but more importantly, what happens to the seat and the Tory majority?  One assumes that the constituency election results from 2015 are declared void and there would be by-elections. I can't see UKIP losing South Thanet again and as the other seats are likely to be marginals too then I would guess the Tories would lose control of government (unless they went into coalition with other parties again). There would need to be a repeal of that 55% law that the Lib Dems allowed in so that there could be a further general election and I hope that the winning parties in that election would be focused on electoral reform to junk our damaged, antiquated and undemocratic system.

No comments: