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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Tory Expenses - The Activist’s Tale

Meet Londoner Amir Sadjady. He’s an entrepreneur, a property developer … and he supports the Tories. Sadjady was one of many activists who took part in Team 2015 last year. He went out on the “Battle Bus”. He canvassed. He leafletted. And his record of some of the party’s actions shows why there are all those Police investigations going on right now into a number of candidates’ election expenses.
One of those now facing investigation is Yeovil’s new Tory MP Marcus Fysh, who defeated Lib Dem David Laws. As the Western Gazette pointed out, “Fysh was one of 24 Conservative candidates accused of exceeding spending limits ahead of last year's general election following the visit of a so-called battle bus to the Yeovil constituency during campaigning”. And there was more.

It is estimated that the cost of using the battle buses came to more than £2,000 per day, a figure that included wages and expenses for volunteers and promotion costs. This was based on an estimated cost of £400 for hiring the bus plus the £1,750 costs of a day's campaigning”. That figure might be yet higher, as thanks to Amir Sadjady, we know that the activists bussed in to the Yeovil constituency came from as far away as London.
This has been confirmed by Sadjady telling “Campaigning with the #conservatives in #yoevil #battlebus2015 @Team2015” and including a photo of Fysh with Sajid Javid, the “Battle Bus” forming the backdrop. Were there any inducements other than travel? It seems there were: the previous evening, Sadjady Tweeted “With the #conservatives #Team2015  #Battlebus2015”, apparently from a restaurant.
That, it has to be assumed, is the reward for another day’s campaigning: food and drink are present and correct. Marcus Fysh, meanwhile, has explained it all away by telling “The battle bus was a national campaign activity rightly recorded as a national expense … I don't think anyone in the Yeovil constituency would really suggest that anything was unfair in the election campaign, which saw plenty of activity on all sides”.
If they were canvassing locally, it should be on his return. His return has a big round zero against transport costs. And the amounts lavished on hospitality are most unlikely to have been absorbed into any of the other categories on that return. But what of Election Day itself? Here, Amir Sadjady was back in London, looking to get the vote out for Angie Bray in the Ealing Central and Acton constituency.
Here, Sadjady was photographed holding three personalised leaflets, which, it is hoped, were declared by Ms Bray on her expense return, given that they clearly show the names of Alexander, James and Ian. Angie Bray memorably lost, not least because of the incident where Karim Sacoor, who was helping out with her campaign, manhandled Labour’s Rupa Huq away from Boris Johnson in full view of the cameras.

So, after taking part in the “Battle Bus” campaigning that is now causing the Tories such grief, what did Amir Sadjady have to say to prospective voters? “If you vote for #labour today, then you are voting for #warcriminals and #champagne #socialists”. After all the questionable activities he had been a part of, he’s got no room to talk.


GCU Grey Area said...

Bless. He couldn't even get the town's name right. #Yoevil indeed. In #summerset, I expect.

#UptheGolvers, as they don't say at the footy.

Anonymous said...

I am based in Yeovil and have been investigating this in parallel to first the Mirror and then C4... as well as your activist friend above have copied other Yeovil / Fysh-related social media posts from parachuted-in activists on the bus where they clearly mention 'campaigning' and 'canvassing' on behalf of Fysh.

Anonymous said...

" He’s an 'entrepreneur,' a property 'developer' … and he supports the Tories."

Well I never. Another thief supporting the tories.

Ed said...

I may be wrong, but I'm sure I've heard "The battle bus was a national campaign activity rightly recorded as a national expense..." before somewhere. Perhaps from my MP (Mary Robinson, Cheadle) when she was asked the same question.