Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tories Obey Electoral Law Shocker

Is it any wonder people think all politicians are crooks and thieves when they read drivel like THIS over their Sunday morning cornflakes?

According to Robert Winnett and Holly Watt of the Sunday Times the Conservatives are deliberately flouting electoral law by raising more money in their election fighting funds than the legal expenses limit. Except that's not the case at all. If the limit is £5,000 and you spend £5,000 you have obeyed the law. If the limit is £5,000 and you raise £15,000 but still only spend £5,000 you have also obeyed the law. All political parties (at national and local level) use their election fighting funds to raise as much money as possible. Fundraising in the year after an election is very difficult so any surplus left over in the fighting fund is used for campaigning over the next year, or to run the local Party. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.

I used to think the Sunday Times had an editor who would fillet out ridiculous stories like this. It appears he was off last night.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Then of course there are always those who raise £15,000, declare expenditure of £5,000 and actually spend £20,000!

Red Top said...

The Times is a tabloid

Anonymous said...

At lewast they are not offering honours for their fundraising unlike some. Alegedly of course.........

Anonymous said...

This story does, however, highlight the ridiculous situation where 'candidacy' officially begins only after the end of closure of nominations for the election proper - you can now spend thousands on an openly-declared candidates, before the opening of formal nominations, with total impunity. This was not the case in the 'good old days'

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed Iain Dale ,44, right of centre political commentator, author, publisher, radio pundit, Rick Stein look and sound alike , TV presenter, blogger and former Conservative candidate.
Good spot.
I usually rather like the Times actually I wish the Telegraph came in a handy commuter pack as well

Anonymous said...

Are people really not aware that the Times and the Sunday Times are different newspapers?

Anonymous said...

Mmmm. Well, first off I think there's some conflating of the limits for Westminster and Local Govt Elections. For Westminster the limits were in the range between about £7000 and about £11000 I believe. But they should be more uniform after the boundary review. National spend and a certain amount of targeting of that - hoardings and so on - is not included in the constituency total.

As the piece says the local limit for a council ward is around £1000 and is doubled for an all out with three seats contested.

Anonymous 6:12 is right. The ability to declare and spend outside the limit before the trigger date is an innovation which does not help.

My beliefe is that all the major parties defening and attacking known marginals sometimes overspend. And sometimes overspend massively.

red top said...

Are people really not aware that the Times and the Sunday Times are different newspapers?

Yes...separate newsrooms, separate buildings, separate ownership....

Anonymous said...

does the dirty digger not own the sunday times??

Margaret on the Guillotine said...

How much you betting that this is going to be the lead story on Newsnight tomorrow?

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

There are associations that have raised more than £5000?!

I feel lonely :(

Anonymous said...

More ...

In Manchester Withington the comrades were over confident and got beaten by Lib Dems thanks to their fibs and a further Tory collapse. But also thanks to a huge discrepancy in the amount of print produced and the amount of phone calls and targeted letters etc etc.

Their expenses return showed a variety of different printers and some incredible items. Nothing for web. Next to nothing for post. £17 for 'phones.

They had three landlines in their HQ and loads of mobiles and they did a hell of a lot of phoning.

At Brighton Conference 2005 as well as having a bit part in Waltergate I asked the EC if they monitored returns for patterns and to followed up those which spent markedly different from the norm, The PR people said they would check and email me. But nothing came.

Rather like analysis of MPs exes now proposed.

My impression is that party managers from all three parties go easy on complaints against opponents as they all have skeletons in closets.

Paid workers as some say LDs had in MW are another area of overspend and rarely appear on returns I have seen from any party.

Tories seem pretty foolish to produce manuals like the one referred to and to discuss local campaign costs at £40,000.

mark williams said...

Might a jury find that article lbellous?

A substantial award might look good in the party coffers.

nadders said...

Of course these numbers exclude the impact of £300+ of government funded advertising and 3000+HMG press officers who all punt the government line.

Good job nuLab are so crap at advertising or Cameron and co would be toast

chatterbox said...

Never mind the Times fairy tale, are we too assume that the conservatives have finally stolen a copy of Rennard's election bible and "nicked" the best bits?
If so, excellent and may the best party win. Play nicely boys and girls, but not too nicely that we let those pesky Libdems win.

Anonymous said...

With respect, Iain, I'm an Independent candidate who had to contend with Michael Howard - during a local council election - sending a personal letter to the electorate in contested wards suggesting that a vote for anyone but the Conservatives was a vote for nulab. Yet I came second, knocking nulab into third place.

I adhered to the election rules so could not afford to send a letter replying to Howard's letter.

If this is how the big three parties carry on during a council election, God help an Independent or smaller party candidate during a general election.

Money doesn't buy votes, eh?

Anonymous said...

Iain, you comment on my story about this on my blog, but offer no link. What's going on ? I always link to you in such cases !

Iain Dale said...

i think i wrote this before i saw the story on your blog. as you know, i always link when i should!

Anonymous said...

Iain, you sent your comment to me at 5.36 pm, but your story to your blog was posted at 5.54 pm. I'm not that hurt but it's unlike you not to credit getting an idea for a story from someone else.

Iain Dale said...

I stand corrected. However, I saw the newspaper story while I was at News 24 the previous day and had intended to write about it anyway. But as you say, I am normally punctilious about linking to people!