Tag Archives: electoral

Johnson to strip Electoral Commission of power to prosecute after it threatens action over his flat

Tinpot dictator: Boris Johnson wants to strip the Electoral Commission of its power to prosecute law-breaking – not because it is a bad idea, because it isn’t. He’s doing it because the commission may use this power to prosecute HIM over the funding of his Downing Street flat refurbishment.

Of course Boris Johnson is taking away the Electoral Commission’s power to prosecute people because it criticised him. It’s what he does.

Look at his current attack on the courts’ powers of judicial review. That happened entirely because judicial reviews ruled that he had broken the law by proroguing Parliament, and with his Brexit policy.

He is a classic, small-minded, tinpot, banana-republic dictator. His only function is to satisfy his own personal desires and to attack anybody who frustrates those desires.

And the UK’s voters put him in charge of one of the world’s richest and most powerful countries. Perhaps a few million people need to take their vote a little more seriously next time?

Boris Johnson is to strip the Electoral Commission of the power to prosecute law-breaking, just weeks after it launched an investigation into his controversial flat refurbishment.

Ministers have announced that a new Elections Bill will remove its ability to prosecute criminal offences under electoral law – arguing it “wastes public money”.

The watchdog launched an immediate protest, warning the move would “place a fetter on the Commission which would limit its activity”.

The shake-up was condemned as a “thinly-veiled government power grab” by the Electoral Reform Society.

Source: Electoral Commission to be stripped of power to prosecute after probe into Boris Johnson’s flat makeover | The Independent

Electoral Commission ‘wrongly recorded donations to Conservatives’. Oh, so is that all right, then?

Backhander? Or tax evasion? What was really going on with the donations to the Tory Party by companies that had long since gone out of business?

The Electoral Commission has admitted that it mistakenly recorded a donation to the Conservatives from an active company as being from a defunct firm, because they shared the same address.

It has asked for another mistake in recording a donation to the Tories to be taken into account as well.

Does that let the Tories off the hook, then?

No. No, it doesn’t.

There remains one more donation (of which we’re aware) to be explained.

It was apparently made by a firm called Unionist Buildings Limited, in June 2017. Records show the firm was dissolved six months early, in January that year.

The Conservatives have admitted incorrectly reporting donations from that firm but have given no further details.

Why not? Guilty conscience?

These discrepancies only came to light after the Labour Party discovered them and raised them with the Electoral Commission.

How can we be sure they are the only examples of false reporting of donations? We can’t, can we?

HM Revenue and Customs will be interested in donations from dissolved companies, particular if there are monies owing to HMRC or other creditors, because if you can pay donations, then you can pay your creditors.

Also, if this money came from the company, then was it profit generated by the company? If it was, then Corporation Tax and VAT is very likely to be due upon it.

In other words, has Labour uncovered tax evasion by Tory donors?

If so, we need to find out if this is an isolated incident or if it is more widespread. And we need to know now.

I wonder how the Tories will try to squirm out of this.

Source: Elections watchdog admits errors in reporting Tory donations – BBC News

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Tories plan to rig local elections with change from proportional representation to FPTP

The Conservatives are planning to make it easier for them to win local elections by changing the voting system to make it less representative.

Currently, elections for Combined Authority mayors, the mayor of London and police and crime commissioners are carrried out using a version of proportional representation which takes into account the preferences of people whose first choices do not have the highest number of votes.

Two candidates go through to the second round if no one gets more than 50 per cent of the primary vote.

A winner is then chosen from the remaining two by taking preferences into account from the voters who chose eliminated candidates as their first preference.

This means that everybody’s vote helps to influence the result – but the Conservatives lose out.

That’s why they want to change the system to FPTP – “First Past The Post” – in which the party winning the most votes in a single round of voting wins the election, even if it doesn’t have the support of a majority of the people.

Priti Patel announcing the plan to change the system, lied that the British people had rejected proportional representation in a referendum in 2011.

She was wrong. The public endorsed FPTP only for general elections, because the referendum was focused only on them.

The intention is clear: the Tories are going to rig local elections to ensure that they have the best chance of winning.

The London School of Economics has warned that the change could wipe out the accountability of a London mayor (for example) by removing small parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party from the London Assembly, which holds the mayor to account.

And London Labour warned,

For the Tory Government to impose a change to the electoral system without first asking the views of Londoners in a follow-up referendum demonstrates their breathtaking arrogance and their utter disdain for devolution.

Fortunately for democracy, any change to electoral systems will have to be approved by Parliament via legislation, and this cannot happen before the local elections – including the London mayoral election – on May 6 this year.

Just watch how quickly the Tories try to impose the change if they lose that election!

Source: Government plans to change London mayor elections to First Past the Post : CityAM

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Labour NEC elections: should Electoral Commission investigate Starmer vote-rigging claims?

Stymied: Keir Starmer has failed to increase his power on Labour’s ruling NEC – and may face an investigation by the Electoral Commission over the possibility that his leadership team interfered with the votes, binning many that should have been counted.

Perhaps Labour Party members – the few who remain – should be grateful for small mercies: after the NEC election left-wing Grassroots Voice candidates took five of the nine CLP seats.

It means Keir Starmer’s ‘Stalinist Right’ (apparently) faction has been denied a chance to consolidate its power over the party; he will continue to face opposition to his more extreme right-wing policies in the party’s ruling committee.

But do these results really matter, when they come amid allegations of vote-rigging?

The claim is that Starmer’s leadership has been disregarding votes by people who subsequently quit their membership of the Labour Party in disgust at the undemocratic decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn for no reason at all.

And it seems this claim may have validity. The number of votes counted in this election is said to be around 117,000 – 27 per cent of the membership, according to the most recent figures we have. Last time, 68 per cent of the membership voted.

That’s a huge difference.

It is entirely possible that the 117k figure represents 68 per cent of the current membership, after the party haemmorrhaged members following Starmer’s election as leader and his immediate choice to betray those who voted for him by ignoring his 10 pledges and turning the party’s direction sharply to the right.

But if Starmer’s people have been binning votes from people who were members before they quit in disgust, then it seems they have acted unconstitutionally by removing votes that should have counted; these people were members when they voted and had every right to vote at the time.

Fortunately for democracy in the UK, we have an organisation dedicated to ensuring that elections are carried out in a free, fair and legal way.

So here’s the question:

Should the Electoral Commission be called in to investigate this election?

And if so:

Should the result of the NEC election – as currently reported – be ignored until the Electoral Commission is able to confirm (or deny) it?

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The Tories are attacking the Electoral Commission. What are they trying to hide?

Is Boris Johnson attacking the Electoral Commission to hide his connections with Russian influencers like Evgeny Lebedev?

Boris Johnson’s onslaught against the rule of law is building up speed.

His Conservative government wants to either abolish or significantly reform the Electoral Commission – the independent organisation that regulates political donations, spending and other areas, and has the power to undertake its own investigations, and fine parties and officials for breaches of the rules, although more serious matters are passed to police.

The Liberal Democrats reckon this is an attempt to prevent the exposure of “embarrassing funding connections to Russian oligarchs” – and This Writer finds it a more convincing argument than Labour’s simple claim that it risks undermining faith in democracy.

The reference to the Russia connection seems most likely because Johnson is the kind of man who acts according to his immediate needs. After the so-called ‘Russia Report’ was released, showing that his government had allowed Russians to launder money in the UK, and had turned a blind eye to Russian influence in UK politics, an attack on the organisation that regulates such things seemed inevitable.

The Tories say the Commission should accept more outside scrutiny or be disbanded. I’m not particularly against that idea, but it raises a significant question: whose scrutiny? It would have to be somebody independent – and I doubt the Tories would accept that.

And they say the Commission should not have new powers to prosecute political organisations and/or politicians. Why not? What would be the problem, if it was done with the agreement of these new outside scrutineers?

This affair could tie itself in a nasty little knot if we’re not careful – and, probably, if the Tories get their way.

Source: Tory plan to scrap election watchdog ‘undermines democracy’ | Conservatives | The Guardian

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Should Labour and the Lib Dems go into an electoral pact?

Number 10: What strategy will put Jeremy Corbyn in the prime minister’s house?

Simon Wren-Lewis on his Mainly Macro blog raises an interesting question: with the Brexit Party making overtures to the Tories about an electoral pact, should Labour and the Liberal Democrats do the same?

He makes some good points in favour of it – there are many seats where it would make sense for either party to stand aside, allowing the other a greater opportunity for victory, and it makes no sense for the Liberal Democrats to try to block Labour, only to let the “no deal Brexit” parties have a majority in the House of Commons. Every Liberal Democrat attacking Labour is supporting a Johnson/Cummings administration.

But if the Liberal Democrats have any kind of reputation at the moment, it is for treachery. They cannot be trusted. That position will only have been strengthened – against Labour – with the defections to that party of former Labour and Conservative MPs. That will push Labour away.

And the Liberal Democrats themselves may fear that Tory propaganda painting Jeremy Corbyn as the Devil himself will put marginal Tory voters off switching to them, if they go into a pact with Labour.

So Professor Wren-Lewis is supporting tactical voting – supporting the LDs where they have a more realistic chance of winning, and Labour where that party would fare better.

But his logic isn’t perfect. He says voting for a Labour MP who supports leaving the EU will not help as such a person would not support a second referendum with remaining in the EU on the paper – but this fails to take into account the fact that such a referendum is Labour policy and it is better to have a government with such a policy, if you are a remainer, than a government former by a Johnson/Cummings/Farage “no deal Brexit” alliance.

He also says the Tories can expect around 350 seats according to current polling, but he is out of date. Current polling, it seems, suggests the Tories could only muster around 285 seats unless they win constituencies that would be far from their grip usually.

He also suggests that Labour cannot hope to enjoy the huge surge it had in 2017 because Dominic Cummings will use all the social media expertise he learned during the EU referendum campaign to undermine it. This ignores the fact that the media will have to ditch their anti-Labour bias by law, that hundreds of thousands of young people are signing up to vote just so they can support Labour, and that Labour has a thriving social media presence of its own that has made mincemeat of the Tories on that platform for years.

I mean, you’re reading This Site – right?

Professor Wren-Lewis is right to sound a note of caution – but I wonder if he is going too far.

You can read his article here.

What do you think?

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Lib Dems drift further to the political right in possible deal with Tory rebels

Jo Swinson: It’s an old pic but we don’t have any actual images of her negotations with Rory Stewart and his pals.

If this is true (and it’s a Sunday Times report, so that’s debatable), then it confirms the Liberal Democrats’ rightward drift since Jo Swinson took over as leader.

Remember last week, when former Tory Phillip Lee crossed the floor of the House of Commons to sit with the Liberal Democrats – prompted the party’s LGBT representative, Jenny Rigg, to quit?

She tweeted her anger at what she saw as her party’s capitulation to Toryism.

And it seems she was right:

Rebel Tories expelled from the party are in talks with the Liberal Democrats about a non-aggression pact.

The former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is helping to broker a deal between Rory Stewart, an expelled Conservative and neighbouring Cumbrian MP, and the new leader, Jo Swinson, insiders say.

Under the proposal, Stewart would stand as an independent MP at the next general election but agree to accept a soft Lib Dem whip in exchange for the party not fielding a candidate against him. It is understood that the Green Party would also stand aside in Stewart’s Penrith seat.

[Other expelled Tory rebels including Sam Gyimah and Margot James are implicated in the deal.]

Make no mistake: a deal would only be possible if the Liberal Democrat leadership and the expelled Conservatives were able to see eye-to-eye politically.

And Ms Swinson’s behaviour makes it clear that it is her party that has moved into conjunction with the Tories, not the other way round.

This must be heartbreaking for all the traditional Liberals who have supported their party through nightmares like the Coalition government and beyond – not to mention those who voted LD because they want to remain in the EU. What a bare-faced betrayal.

Source: Lib Dems to stand aside for Rory Stewart and other Tory rebels in general election | News | The Sunday Times

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Tory corruption: They’re planning a law to allow MPs to break electoral spending limits

MPs, election candidates and party officials will be able to break election spending limits with impunity if the Tories pass a new proposed law.

The intention is to create a new “test of authorisation” – a buffer between candidates and the current law that would stop them being accountable for funds donated by outside bodies such as national parties.

This would, of course, also let Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party off the hook over the funds it may be receiving from foreign organisations intent on perverting the course of UK elections.

But the Tories won’t care about that.

They reckon they can still count on receiving more money in donations from their rich cronies than any other party, and apparently want to use that money – so electoral law must be subverted.

In This Writer’s opinion, it is utterly corrupt. What do you think?

Conservative ministers are drawing up a law to protect MPs and party officials from prosecution if their national parties overspend during elections, leaked documents have shown.

The move follows the conviction in January of Marion Little, a Tory party organiser from head office, and the acquittal of the MP Craig Mackinlay after they were accused of breaking electoral law as the party fought off a challenge from Nigel Farage in Thanet South.

In an email sent three weeks ago to Theresa May and the cabinet secretary, Mark Sedwill, the government outlined plans for a new “test of authorisation” so MPs and election agents were no longer held automatically responsible for resources donated by outside bodies, such as national parties.

Transparency campaigners have said they believe the move is an attempt to avoid future prosecutions and would overturn a ruling by the supreme court.

Alexandra Runswick, the director of Unlock Democracy, said a “test of authorisation” would give candidates and party officials another level of defence from prosecution. “Such a move would not appear to be about reinforcing and strengthening electoral law. This would instead protect party candidates and open up the possibility of outspending rivals.”

Source: Tories draft electoral law to protect MPs if parties overspend | Politics | The Guardian

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Anti-Semite claims ‘The Jews’ are funding Carole Cadwalladr’s Brexit investigations

Carole Cadwalladr.

It seems to be this month’s ‘thing’: If you can’t disprove the message, smear the messenger.

So with several ‘Leave’-supporting campaign groups undergoing serious investigation for varying breaches of electoral law – much of it due to the investigative journalism of Carole Cadwalladr, at least one ‘Leave’-supporting media organisation has decided to attack her, rather than her findings.

Unfortunately for Raheem Kassam and his Patreon site, the article‘s claims have no substances and seem to be a vehicle for dog-whistle anti-Semitism rather than serious journalism.

If you want to read a detailed takedown, I can recommend a piece on Zelo Street.

But I can give you the gist right here: Kassam wants you to believe that Ms Cadwalladr has been funded by Remain-supporting “globalist shills” (apparently this is an anti-Semitic dog whistle) because her work has appeared on the Open Democracy website and among its many funders is George Soros and his Open Society Foundation.

Kassam states: “Cadwalladr has attempted to cover such tracks by issuing a series of tweets alleging that any critique of the billionaire, fund manager Soros is ‘racist’ against Jews. This is despite Soros’s rejection of his Jewish identity, and in spite of the fact that he has openly admitted to assisting in the confiscation of Jewish property during the Holocaust”.

Zelo Street responds: “George Soros did not assist in confiscation of Jewish property” – and this certainly seems unlikely as he would have been only 15 at the end of World War II. “And whether he “rejects his Jewish identity” is irrelevant. Calling “Soros” is code for “the Jews”. Like gratuitously pitching terms like “globalists”, “global bankers”, and “Goldman Sachs”.”

Is this the ‘Leave’ response to the hard evidence that shows possibly-criminal breaches of electoral law – anti-Semitism?

If so, it’s not attractive.

But as I type these words, I wonder how many Leave supporters will choose to disassociate themselves from anyone promoting such an opinion – and how many will simply double down and attack those of us exposing it with the anti-Remain cry of “You lost – get over it”, that isn’t even relevant here?

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Arron Banks and Leave.EU referred to National Crime Agency – but will it investigate? [POLL]

Arron Banks: Is he really under investigation?

As I type these words, there is much celebration on the social media at the news that Arron Banks and Leave.EU have been referred to the National Crime Agency for investigation over suspected offences related to the EU referendum of 2016.

Sorry to pour cold water on all this heat, but:

Aren’t the police refusing to investigate EU referendum offences because they are “politically sensitive”?

Here‘s the latest development, as reported by BBC News:

“The National Crime Agency is investigating Arron Banks and his Leave.EU campaign for alleged offences committed at the 2016 EU referendum.

“Mr Banks and another senior campaign figure, Liz Bilney, were referred to the agency by the Electoral Commission.

“The watchdog said it suspected money given to the campaign came “from impermissible sources”.

“Mr Banks has consistently denied any wrongdoing in connection to the referendum campaign.

“The Electoral Commission investigation focused on £2m reported to have been loaned to Better for the Country, which ran Leave.EU, by Mr Banks and his group of insurance companies and a further £6m reported to have been given to the organisation, on behalf of Leave.EU, by Arron Banks alone.

“Of this, £2.9m was used to fund referendum spending on behalf of Leave.EU and donations to other campaign groups during the EU referendum, the Electoral Commission said.”

There is no comment from the National Crime Agency but the reaction on the social media has been ecstatic:

 

Carole Cadwalladr, whose investigative journalism managed to take the matter this far, had the following to say:

I have asked her whether she seriously believes an investigation will take place and will publish her response.

Let’s remind ourselves of what happened when Leave.EU was referred to the Metropolitan Police. This is from October 11:

“The Metropolitan Police has stalled the launch of any criminal investigation into three pro-Brexit campaigns – citing “political sensitivities”.

“Despite being handed their first dossier of evidence of potential crimes committed by pro-Leave groups over five months ago, the police force has made no progress nor logged a formal case into the activities of either Vote Leave, fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, or Leave.EU, the pro-Brexit campaign bankrolled by Arron Banks.

“In May and July this year, the UK Electoral Commission reported that multiple breaches of electoral law, false declarations and covert campaign over-spending had taken place by pro-Leave groups during the 2016 EU referendum.

“The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was then expected to investigate whether key individuals, including Leave.EU’s campaign chief, Liz Bilney; Vote Leave’s board official, David Halsall; and the founder of BeLeave, Darren Grimes, had committed related criminal offences.

“The Met revealed it has yet to start any formal investigation, and has remained effectively stalled for months in “assessing evidence”.

“Pushed on why there has been no progress, or no formal case logged, a Scotland Yard spokesman admitted there were issues and “political sensitivities” that had to be taken into account. The Yard spokesman later added that the political issues related to “any allegation or referral relating to an election, and much else besides.””

What do you think will happen?

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