If you think this story makes the Tory election fraud investigation less exciting, it is doing its nasty job

The Conservative's 'battlebus' transported young activists around the country during the election campaign [Image: Getty].

The Conservative’s ‘battlebus’ transported young activists around the country during the election campaign [Image: Getty].

The Independent‘s John Rentoul earns his pay – but with articles like this, one has to wonder who is writing out the cheques.

From the introductory paragraph onwards, we can see that Rentoul has been commissioned to discourage readers from believing any change may be effected if Conservative MPs are found to have fiddled their election expenses – despite the fact that we are told this is a serious crime.

He wants you to believe that this story has been widely reported – even though the only mainstream outlets covering it until very recently were Channel 4 News and the Daily Mirror, which in fact had the story first but is not mentioned here.

The claim that it wasn’t reported because nothing has been proved yet is risible. Many news stories are reported prior to the establishment of proof – including this very piece stating the opposite.

More worrying is the claim that legislation passed with the help of MPs who have no legal mandate will still stand. That is anti-democratic and will need to be fought, if it is taken up by the Conservatives after these investigations end.

Of course, it depends on the majorities in each vote, and Rentoul may be alluding to this, albeit obliquely – because he wants you to think his claim is a fact set in stone.

And he quotes other alleged contraventions of spending limits in an attempt to play down what these Tories may have done. How silly.

Firstly, if Cat Smith declared just one-eighth of her election organiser’s pay as a constituency expense, that may be entirely reasonable. Electoral Commission guidelines say if spending is split between local and national campaigns (as it was in this instance) then a judgement must be made on the value of the contribution to each side. So Rentoul’s attempt to tar Labour with the same brush doesn’t ring true.

Even if the allegation was accurate, along with those against Nick Clegg and the SNP, Rentoul knows perfectly well that two wrongs don’t make a right – just because other people committed the same crime, that doesn’t absolve any Tories who may be found guilty.

The simple fact is that we do not know what will happen if enough Conservative MPs are found to have fraudulently breached their election spending limits.

This is uncharted territory as the UK has never previously had to contemplate electoral corruption on a national scale.

And that’s what we’re facing – don’t let Rentoul tell you otherwise.

When he threw out the Tory case against extending the investigation into electoral fraud in Thanet South, district judge Justin Barron stated there was “very significant public interest in the matter being fully investigated.

“The consequences of a conviction would be of a local and national significance with the potential for election results being declared void.”

John Rentoul may think he knows the law better than a sitting judge, but he doesn’t.

Don’t let him tell you otherwise.

Did the Conservatives steal the election by failing to declare local campaign spending? The short answer is no, but the longer answer is still interesting.

The scale of the allegations has excited partisan Labour supporters. David Cameron has a working majority of only 16, so if eight Tory MPs could be disqualified, his Government would lose its ability to pass laws. Or, in the more extravagant vision, the result of last year’s general election would be reversed.

Liz Thomson, who was in the audience for Michael Gove’s grilling on Sky News on Friday, suggested to him that this would mean the EU referendum was “illegal”. This is the kind of thing that has been promoted on the internet by people demanding to know why the mainstream media, and in particular the BBC, has failed to cover the “Tory election fraud” story.

It has in fact been widely reported, Crick and Channel 4 News being part of the mainstream media. The reason it hasn’t been reported in the way that some people want is because nothing has been proved yet, and even if it were disqualifications and by-elections are unlikely. And even if the Conservatives were to lose enough seats to lose their majority – which is really unlikely – it would not have any retrospective effect on laws passed by the House of Commons, such as the one providing for the referendum.

Source: Did the Conservatives steal the election by failing to declare their local campaign spending? | Voices | The Independent

ADDITIONAL: I’ve had a message on Facebook from Mr Rentoul, as follows: “Hi Mike, you’ll want to say who is paying me other than The Independent, or perhaps rewriting that bit, won’t you?

No, I don’t think so. I never suggested anyone was paying him other than the Independent, but – considering the claims made in the article and the ease with which they fall apart under examination – who is that, exactly? And what were their intentions in commissioning an article like this?

Over to you, John.


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4 thoughts on “If you think this story makes the Tory election fraud investigation less exciting, it is doing its nasty job

  1. Dez

    Even without the truth being established it was still a major public interest piece that the Cons may have fiddled their election expenses. The fact it brings the UK into a no better than a third world run election status, with seats gained by unfair advantage, should have been on the front page of all the national press and media. Unfortunately our press/media is so biased towards the Cons it never made the limelight and probably never will…..even if it is established there was accounting issues in the cost allocations. Not a good reflection on the Country that we live.

  2. jeffrey davies

    hmm to be in power one must have clean hands but this lot have well truelly dirty hands and fiddling is whot they do any person doing whot these bunch of crooks do would be locked up jeff3

  3. Brian

    Could it be that the Independent‘s John Rentoul has been instructed to take this line. I suggest the Independent has considered the risk to it’s credibility by not covering a story that has the potential to be explosive. Embarrassment does not even figure should they have to pick this story up after the event. They may be covering their backs before it’s to late. This is really quite promising, as the Independent is now feeling the heat and making preparations for Armageddon.

  4. mohandeer

    If someone is convicted of a felony and is doing time can they still benefit from their criminal activities? I can’t see how someone who is found guilty of election fraud can hold their ill gotten seat, it just seems as though there is one rule for the elites and the law only applies to people who cannot buy justice or consider themselves above it and dodge it.

Comments are closed.