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Saturday 23 April 2016

Tory Election Expense Scandal Grows

While Michael Crick of Channel 4 News has been focusing on the RoadTrip 2015 aspects of the Tories’ last General Election campaign, and the possibility that spending limits had been breached, in and around London, the party’s use of University students as evening canvassers may have been in contravention of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which specifically outlaws payment or inducement for canvassing.
Section 111 of the Act, “Prohibition of paid canvassers”, states “If a person is, either before, during or after an election, engaged or employed for payment or promise of payment as a canvasser for the purpose of promoting or procuring a candidate’s election - (a)the person so engaging or employing him, and (b)the person so engaged or employed … shall be guilty of illegal employment.” Note “payment or promise of payment”.
The Labour Party organiser’s handbook errs on the side of caution: “In the case of members canvassing the public on the phone or the doorstep, it would be illegal to pay them for this work. It is therefore important that provision of refreshments for these workers is an occasional expression of gratitude and that it is quite clear that they are not promised in advance as an inducement to do this work” [my emphasis].

No payment, no promise of payment, and moreover, no inducement or promise thereof. This does not appear to have occurred to UCL Conservatives, who told last year thatRoadtrip is a great initiative which gets hundreds of young activists out to different target seats around the country every weekend with a promise of free travel, free drinks and a free curry”. Refreshments promised in advance. And there is more. A lot more.
April broughtLondon CF Super Saturday - Brentford and Isleworth with Lord Ahmad”, promising “there will be a free bar after”. The previous month includedSuper Saturday … in Hampstead and Kilburn”, promising “as usual we will be heading off to a local pub at 4PM for a FREE BAR”. A January “Action day … in Harrow Eastalso promisedthere will be a free bar … at a local pub”. And there was yet more.
February includedAction day with CF Women and London CF for Mary Macleod”, where, once again, “There will also be a free bar [and] food”. King’s College London Conservative Society also covered Hampstead and Kilburn in March, promising “There will also be a gargantuan bar tab afterwards. Just saying”. They went to Harrow East too: “Afterwards, at least £300 will be put behind the bar for food, drinks and fun (funded by the Party)”.
Queen Mary and Barts students also did Harrow: “There will be a bar tab afterwards”. London CF was at it as early as December 2014: “Register for the FREE BAR and free food after campaigning”. The same month, they were in Ealing: “We will also be joined by James Brokenshire MP (Minister for Immigration & Security) at the pub where we will have a free bar & free food!” That’s an awful lot of promises being made.
And it wasn’t finished yet: the students at Royal Holloway also did the rounds, including Harrow East, where “There will be a free bar and food afterwards”. Plus they went to Twickenham with the twin inducements of unseating Vince Cable, and “a FREE bar and free food after”. That’s quite an inducement for impecunious students.

Some Tory Party connected social media content making these promises has been wiped since the General Election and cannot be retrieved using the Wayback Machine. But all of the Facebook stuff was still there today, although whether it remains up is uncertain. That is why screen shots were taken.

Perhaps a party spokesman would like to explain why all those promises were made in order to get people to canvass for them. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation.


Rangjan said...

Never mind the frigging refreshments! CTA associates were bussed in to do door-to-door canvassing. They didn't do it in their own time, for free, they did did it as part of their job.

Gweedo Fawkes said...

“There will also be a free bar [and] food”.


Don't forget my single whaffer theen mint !


Anonymous said...

There is "a perfectly good explanation."

They're corrupt.

It really is that basic.

wildcat said...

I'm sorry, I really, really can't get worked up about this when there are so many more serious issues to attack the Tories on. So they provided refreshments and drinks in return for canvassing. Big deal. You get similar promises from Labour in return for doing the same for the upcoming mayoral contest and London assembly elections.

It's perfectly reasonable and nobody in their right mind would call it corruption.

Please concentrate on the real problems this awful government causes as you usually do and ignore irrelevant nonsense like this.