Tag Archives: seat

Tories are trying to buy the election with ‘quiet’ candidate spending hike

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Candidates in the general election will have 23 per cent more money to spend after the Tories slipped the increase through without debate. This only applies if any candidates other than Tories actually have that much money, of course.

The Observer has reported that, under the new limits, the total amount the candidates of each political party can spend has increased from £26.5m to £32.7m.

In March, the Electoral Commission recommended there should be no such increase in spending limits for candidates over the so-called “long campaign” period between December 19 and general election day on May 7.

The change to the law on candidates’ election spending, passed without parliamentary debate, was made despite a direct warning by the commission against “excessive spending” in order to “prevent the perception of undue influence over the outcome of the election”.

Ministers changed the law through a statutory instrument, the terms of which were not debated in the Commons, which is used more properly for consensual changes in the law. A Labour source said the move had not been spotted by them at the time, so they missed the chance to force a vote in the Commons.

It’s too late for that now.

We know the Conservatives have much more moolah than any of the other parties – let’s face it, they have spent all of their period in office changing the law to make it possible for the extremely rich and big businesses to donate increasingly ludicrous amounts to Tory Party funds, and this is the reason.

For example: In the past four years, 27 per cent of the £78,010,807  the Tories have raised – £21,072,508 – has come from hedge fund donors. George Osborne’s 2013 budget abolished stamp duty reserve tax on funds, a £145m giveaway to those very same hedge funds. That’s just one example.

The Observer states: “With the Tories having amassed a £78m war chest over the past four years, they can now funnel huge amounts of cash into key seats.”

We know that the Tories won more seats than anyone else at the 2010 election by throwing ridiculous amounts of Lord Ashcroft’s money at marginal seats and by lying about their policy intentions. This undemocratic move – there was no Parliamentary debate and one can hardly say it has been announced loudly; did you even know this decision was made in the summer? – clearly states their intention to repeat the same grubby, underhanded manoeuvre next year.

And we know that David Cameron has made this decision against the advice of the Electoral Commission – meaning that it should be plain for all to see that this is yet another corrupt decision by the most corrupt government of the last century.

What else are we to think of this? Lucy Powell MP, Ed Miliband’s election strategist, had a few well-chosen ideas on that subject. Writing in The Guardian, she stated:

“With only a record of failure to run on, David Cameron’s campaign is reliant on smear, fear and fat cats’ chequebooks. This is a party flush with big money backers but without the empathy or ideas the country needs, so they are rigging the rules of our democracy in their favour.

“When he was first leader of the opposition, David Cameron said he wanted to take the big money out of politics. He promised to address the ‘big donor culture’, arguing that we should ‘cut what is spent on a general election’. Yet he has now cynically changed his tune. Desperate to hang on to power, the Tories have quietly changed the rules to allow them to spend big in the runup to the election. The changes would allow them to spend millions more than they’re presently allowed, paving the way for Tory propaganda to flood constituencies.”

Opponents of Tory tyranny cannot match the Nasty Party’s spending power. All we have are our own voices and the facts.

That’s why next year – more than ever before – we have to put the message out to protect the public against the next wave of lies and ‘spin’.

The Tory Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act means we can’t spend any appreciable amount of money doing this, but they can’t stop us talking and they can’t stop us publicising the facts.

It’s up to us – all of us – to show the Tories that money isn’t everything.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Democracy in the UK – or What is your MP doing in your name?

They Work For Themselves.com: Michael Gove may well have told IPSA to "stick" its pay rise but you can be sure that this is a publicity stunt. And how long will this principled stand last when his colleagues all take the money?

They Work For Themselves Not You.com: Michael Gove may well have told IPSA to “stick” its pay rise but you can be sure that this is a publicity stunt. And how long will this principled stand last when his colleagues all take the money?

There’s a strong smell of arrogance coming from Westminster at the moment – an attitude of “What are you going to do about it?” to everything. Am I wrong?

On one side we see Labour, trying to divest itself of union influence – and therefore its last link to its working-class background. Ed Miliband thinks the middle class is where the votes are, and he’s absolutely determined to ruin his entire organisation in a vain attempt to prove it. He’ll turn Labour into a plastic copy of the Conservative Party (in the course of which, of course, he’ll also have to change its name. You can’t be the Labour Party if you don’t represent people who work. I understand the word ‘Tory’ is going spare). Trouble is, there is already a Conservative Party. If your politics leans to the right anyway, why support the copy when you can have the original?

The Tories know this. They reckon Labour will self-destruct in fairly short order, leaving the way open for them to continue doing exactly anything they like – as they have been for the past three years and more, despite never having been voted into power by the British people, because they have support from the Liberal Democrats – who are enjoying their very last taste of any national political power.

Both the main parties are sneering at you. They think they know that you will stick to your traditional choices when election time rolls around again: Labour or Conservative. And they know that this means they will be allowed to continue doing whatever they want, against the wishes of the nation in most cases.

That’s how our version of democracy works. You get one chance to vote for the organisation that will rule over you for the next five years. Your decision is nominally based on the promises they make in their various manifestos (many of which will be broken. These documents are rarely worth the paper on which they’re printed), but most likely to be based on habit and an impression of what each party stands for – one that is no longer likely to bear any relationship to reality. Your influence is diminished by the fact that most Parliamentary seats are ‘safe’. The voting population is locked into a particular pattern and each political party can ‘parachute’ its own favoured candidates – people who will support the leaders’ policies, no matter what the wishes of their constituents – into those seats and be assured of support from these drones over the next five years. This is why Labour and the union Unite have been at loggerheads recently – Unite wants candidates who genuinely represent the people of their constituencies; Blairite Labour wants neoliberal, party-propping drones. It looks like Blairite Labour has won the battle, meaning the Labour Party will lose the war; how are they doing in the polls?

So elections are determined on the basis of a tiny number of marginal or ‘swing’ seats. Do you live in a marginal constituency? No? Then your vote probably doesn’t count.

It seems to me that, if we ever want to see democracy in the UK, we need to make it possible for EVERY seat to become a ‘swing’ seat – make it a much harder job for the large parties to ‘parachute’ in their party faithfuls and open up the field to candidates from smaller parties (not just UKIP). But how?

The answer’s obvious, isn’t it? You make sure everyone in your constituency knows exactly what their MP has been doing in their name. Only an informed electorate can make useful decisions, after all – and government of the uninformed is not legitimate government at all.

For example: My MP is a Liberal Democrat backbench drone called Roger Williams. I’ve known him for years and thought he was a nice enough fellow. In fact I voted for him at the last election. It was a tactical vote to keep the Tories out (foolish, in hindsight) – but he has let me down on many major votes, and I’m about to give you two examples.

My constituency is Brecon and Radnorshire – the most rural in England and Wales. It relies on agriculture for much of its income. Therefore it was a shock to our economy when the Westminster government voted to dissolve the Agricultural Wages Board. I cannot currently find any information about how Mr Williams voted on this issue of major importance to his constituency.

I can, however, report his fellow Liberal Democrats’ response to the Welsh Government’s plan for a replacement body covering Wales – they oppose it.

The AWB ensured consistent wages among agricultural workers, and prevented disputes over pay and conditions. Abolishing the board removes recognition of workers’ unique skills, bringing with it a significant pay cut. It is also a mark of disrespect.

In Brecon and Radnorshire, cuts to state benefits will take an average of £433 from working-age people’s incomes – more than a week’s take-home pay where wages are only around 76 per cent of the national average. The loss of the AWB means a significant extra cut to the local economy.

According to Lib Dem AM Bill Powell, his party doesn’t want the Welsh Government to “ram through” this emergency legislation “without allowing Assembly members and committees to scrutinise their proposals fully”.

Perhaps he is forgetting that Mr Williams voted in March to help the Conservative Party “ram through” emergency legislation on the Work Programme in a much quicker and undignified way, in order to prevent jobseekers from claiming back the £130 million that had been stolen from them in illegal sanctions by the Department for Work and Pensions?

So we see that my MP’s party supports the abolition of the AWB, and my MP supported the retroactive law. Both were acts of repression; both were pieces of legislation I oppose. Did he act according to my wishes? Most assuredly not. But he acts in my name.

Oh yes… He also voted against a cumulative impact assessment on the effects of benefit cuts on people with disabilities.

Should he – or any Liberal Democrat – represent Brecon and Radnorshire after 2015? Absolutely not – it would not be in the best interests of the constituency.

But we shouldn’t tolerate anyone from the other parties who preaches freedom for us but practises similar policies of repression.

That’s the message that needs to go out:

“Not in my name.”