Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Electoral Commission: Really Must Try Harder

UKIP has beaten the Electoral Commission. I absolutely agree with Iain Dale that this is the right result. A donor presenting more than £600,000 was not on the electoral register by an administrative slip. The whole loan was to be returned in the High Court verdict which has today been overturned.

I repeat: I agree with Iain Dale. This is the right decision. If this man wants to waste his money on backing UKIP let him do it.

The Electoral Commission should start doing their job properly in other areas. For example policing the spending during the live period at elections so that parties do not get away with exceeding these - in some cases by an order of magnitude and more.

This is done in collusion between the warring parties but particularly in by-elections, in marginals and in far fetched attacks that become surprise wins for the party shifting unfeasible amounts of paper.

At Brighton conference 2005 I asked the representatives of the EC whether they carried out the most fundamental analysis of the norms of a general election budget.

How much per leaflet by quality.

How much 'phone time.

How much for temporary offices.

And so on.

Serious anomalies and patterns should then be investigated. There should be proceedings and convictions where appropriate. Guidance should evolve to cover any persistent evasions and shibboleths about what counts and what does not.

Parties should also be required to submit examples of every single print item they produce (or tardily distribute) in the course of the live period.

There should be a clamp down on fibbing. Fibs repeated after they have been identified should attract serious fines - perhaps even enough to allow all other parties to finance an extra leaflet.

And so called parliamentary reports should be tied to a few weeks either side of a particular date which should be suitably distant from known election timings e.g. Euro, LG and parliament/assembly elections.

These are paid for by the tax payer
and so should not have an ounce of party political leverage in them.

Elected reps should not be able to place paid for adverts in their party's literature.

And all individual donations above a certain proportion of someone's wealth or income should require a process of independent legal advice to prevent the exploitation of weakness and the application of duress to supporters.

From a lawyer or an accountant. Yes, this person can afford this amount; yes, their family are in agreement; yes, they understand what they are doing; and yes, it is clear whether the contribution is a gift, a loan or a combination.

More on this when the beach isn't beckoning perhaps.

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