Tag Archives: Electoral Commission

Tory Election Fraud: The Clock Is Ticking.

The Cat wonders what’s happening with the investigation into the Tory Party’s fraudulent activities that took place during the 2015 General Election.  It seems to have gone rather quiet, save for the occasional appearance of the hashtag #ToryElectionFraud on Twitter.  Even Channel 4, which has been running with the story has been noticeably quiet recently.  The last entry on their website was back in November 2016 when it announced that the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, had been drawn into the controversy.  So, what’s going on? It’s anyone’s guess.  The Cat suspects that the Tories will do all they can to obstruct and delay the investigation, meaning that the police forces involved could run out of time.

Prior to the General Election, The Cat was convinced that the only way David Cameron’s deeply unpopular Nouveau Tories could win was to cheat.  They did this in two ways: they under-claimed on their expenses and they scrubbed voters from the electoral registers.  In addition to this, they began the process of gerrymandering constituency boundaries, which they claimed was done out of ‘fairness’ and to supposedly eliminate safe seats.  What wasn’t explained was how the ‘safe seats’ they identified were mainly Labour seats in urban areas. Tory safe seats, such as those occupied by the likes of Matthew Hancock, would remain safe.

Interestingly, the Electoral Commission, the ostensibly  neutral body that redraws electoral boundaries, withdrew its investigation into the Tories last July.  The reason it offered was contained in this paragraph:

The Electoral Commission has today (15 July) announced that as part of its investigation into the Conservative and Unionist Party campaign spending returns it launched on 18 February 2016, it has withdrawn its application to the High Court for an information and document disclosure order. This means that there will be no hearing regarding the order. The Commission has made this decision because since issuing its application to the High Court on 12 May, it has received sufficient  material from the Party to proceed with its investigation.

This means that over 20 police forces up and down the country are now solely responsible for investigating the claims. Many constabularies were granted extra time to conduct their investigations but time is running out.

The Conservatives have already tried twice to stymie the investigation.  Once when Craig Mackinlay, the MP for Thanet South attempted to block it in the courts and again, when they dragged their heels when they were asked to submit  important documents.

The clock is still ticking.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Government & politics

The voting reform bill: a good opportunity for some partisan mud-slinging

Next time you may have to list preferences.

It is amusing the way some Telegraph bloggers are dealing with the proposed referendum of AV and the Labour Party’s response to it; it’s an other opportunity to engage in a little mud-slinging.

A couple of days ago, the Honourable Tobes complained that Labour and, in particular, Jack Straw, was being “opportunistic” in its opposition to the referendum. Honestly, some people have nothing better to do.  Here Young claims that

Straw’s excuse is that the bill paving the way for the referendum is also going to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and redraw some constituency boundaries to equalise the number of people in each constituency. That’s bad news for Labour since Tory seats are, on average, more populus than Labour ones, meaning Labour candidates require a smaller number of votes to get elected than Conservatives.

Ah, but Straw may actually have a point. I guess neither Tobes nor any of the other supporters of this bill have considered this.  Instead they scream that Labour is being ‘unreasonable’ and that their worries are unfounded but how true is this?

Will Straw (Jack’s lad) notes the Electoral Commission’s investigation into under-registration earlier this year,

“The highest concentrations of under-registration are most likely to be found in metropolitan areas, smaller towns and cities with large student populations, and coastal areas with significant population turnover and high levels of social deprivation.”

So voters are an issue or, rather, the lack of them. I am also concerned with the coalition’s inference that they are being ‘impartial’. John Costello says,

By failing to factor them into his arithmetical review of constituency boundaries, Mr Clegg will be distorting the electoral map of Britain for good, and diluting the representation of people from poorer social groups in the process.

Poor people and people from minority ethnic groups are under-represented, yet this doesn’t seem to concern the coalition who bat the subject away with characteristic nonchalance. Labour are told to ‘go out and register some voters’. Costello continues,

The government’s boundary review promises to deliver the very antithesis of that objective. Now it’s true that over the past 13 years boundary reviews have been conducted on the basis of the existing, incomplete electoral registers. But not on the scale being proposed here (i.e. being used as the basis for chopping 50 seats), and the process was always balanced by the opportunity for public consultation.

So let me get this straight, there will be no public consultations? What happened to devolving power to the people? This article from the Independent says,

Cutting 65-80 seats by crudely equalising registered voters will simply reduce the number of seats in inner cities and areas that have devolved government (apart from London). In short, areas that never elect Tory MPs. This will be Florida-style gerrymandering of the electoral system, disenfranchising many of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Again, the coalition seems uninterested in this. Why? Is it political convenience? David Blackburn of The Spectator calls for Cameron to detach the boundary changes from the bill and notes that there is a sizeable number of Tory rebels. He also observes that “Bernard Jenkin, leader of the Tory rebellion, has the numbers to derail the bill”.

But AV is not PR and despite its supporters saying that “every vote will count”, it is little different to what we have already.

But the knives are out for Jack Straw but as this comment observes, the Lib Dems are rather fond of a little gerrymandering themselves.

The Liberal Democrats are the party for “Unequal Constituencies”. In the Scottish highlands and islands.

Hmmm… I wonder why that might be? It is a real puzzler.

The Lib Dems have handed the bill’s opponents an open goal with their H&I gerrymandering.

Ooops! Of course, an example of institutionalized gerrymandering exists across the Irish Sea where the Unionists have drawn and redrawn boundaries to preserve their majority and thus retain their grip on power in Northern Ireland. This was happening as recently as last year where unionists conspired to freeze out the SDLP from a committee.

Lisburn City Council breached its own equality agenda by excluding the SDLP from an important committee, the Equality Commission has found.

The party was not given a seat on the committee which is overseeing the council’s transition to a super council.

The truth of the matter is that any kind of voting reform must overseen and implemented by an outside body: this is normally the Electoral Commission. The redrawing of constituency boundaries is done by the Boundaries Commission. The Tories don’t want any change to the system and have done all they can to ensure that any bill is unpalatable to those who want change. The Lib Dems have clearly shot themselves in the foot on this issue: if the bill fails, they lose. If the bill succeeds they still lose. The only winners are the Conservatives and Labour.

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Filed under Electoral reform

Goldsmith says he will make complaint against Channel 4

None of us have seen the programme yet but Zac Goldsmith is already making a complaint about a forthcoming exposé into election expenses by Channel 4 and the Bureau of Investigative Journalists.  In an interview with the Richmond & Twickenham Times he says,

“I will make a formal complaint to Ofcom on Monday (today). I’m told by legal experts that I have a very strong case. As far as I can see, it is water tight”.

Yeah? Well, good luck pal. I remember the numbers of Zac Goldsmith signs on Boileau Road and you’re telling me that these signs can be used again?

He continues

“Regarding the election expenses, that will be led by the Electoral Commission. I am hoping they’ll get on the case soon, to bring this to an end.”

Have you given the Electoral Commission money upfront for this?

There is also the issue of Jemima Khan’s deleted tweets.  The tweets reveal that there was an exchange between her and Jon Snow prior to the interview.

Jemima Khan’s since-deleted tweets also reveal the true nature of Zac Goldsmith’s statement that he complains was not included in the 15 July broadcast. Apparently it did no more than dodge the issue of his election expenses and make the same accusations he was allowed to air repeatedly the very next night (July 16).

Here is a rather interesting exchange between bloggerheads and Khan

Bloggerheads: @JemKhan To repeat: Why delete your Q. to @jonsnowC4 that he answers here? http://j.mp/99XM0S What are you hiding? #zacgoldsmith
[12:14 AM Jul 18]

JemKhan: @bloggerheads Because I delete all correspondence after a few days from timeline. Plus Zac clearly doesn’t need me to fight his battles.
[12:42 AM Jul 18]

Bloggerheads: @JemKhan Interesting policy, deleting correspondence as you go. So if Zac doesn’t need you fighting his battles for him why hound Jon Snow?
[12:53 AM Jul 18]

Bloggerheads: @JemKhan Fact is, Zac relied on the answer to YOUR question on C4. So he DID need you to fight this battle for him http://bit.ly/bNHUBh
[1:01 AM Jul 18]

Oops!

Apparently Goldsmith wanted to go on the more Tory-friendly Sky News where he would have been given an easier ride.

The Goldsmiths: what a thoroughly nasty family and to think that I once thought Jemima was kind of cute…

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Filed under Government & politics, Media