Tuesday 21 October 2014

Lawyers advise Channel 4 that Conservative "primary" in Rochester is election spending

Two specialist election lawyers have told Channel 4 that the Conservatives' election primary in Rochester should be considered election spending and come out of the £100k spending limit for election campaigns.

David Cameron is believed to have helped come up with the publicity stunt of putting forward two candidates and holding a postal ballot of residents of Rochester & Strood to choose which one should become the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the by-election caused by Mark Reckless' resignation when he defected to UKIP. The Conservative Party claims to have been given advice by the Electoral Commission that the money they spend on the primary doesn't count as election spending but UKIP's own legal advice and the advice of these two lawyers contradicts that advice and Channel 4 reckon that the Tories will illegally overspend on the campaign by 100%.

The idea that a party can spend an unlimited amount of money on publicity stunts involving the person who will be adopted as their candidate weeks before an election is just ridiculous. It would mean that Labour could spend millions promoting a union-sponsored candidate whilst the Conservatives could spend Ashcroft's millions doing the same for his sockpuppets.

That's within neither the letter nor the spirit of the law which clearly limits the amount of money that can be spent to stop elections from being bought. Rotten boroughs were abolished in 1832, it's time the Tories entered the 21st Century.