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Tories buy election

10 Downing StreetDemocracy is a great system, except that those in power do their uttermost to subvert it, circumvent it, and twist it to their own ends, and quite often succeed. Take the current state of play between the parties in Britain. In March this year the Electoral Commission recommended there should be no increase in spending limits for candidates between now and the general election on 7 May. It also proposed that there should be only an increase in spending of £2.9m for the ‘short’ 3-week campaign leading up to the election. So what did the Tories do? Ignoring the official recommendations of the Electoral Commission, they pushed through increases in permitted spending twice those proposed by the Commission. This works hugely well for them because they have amassed an electoral war chest vastly greater than Labour’s, and will now be able to turn most of it to their own unilateral advantage.

But that’s only half of it. The Tories have raised a colossal £78m in the last 4 years, and significantly no less than £21m (more than a quarter) has come from hedge fund donors. Why have the latter been so generous? Perhaps the fact that Osborne in the small print of his 2013 budget abolished stamp duty reserve tax on hedge funds may have something to do with it. That little-noticed giveaway was worth £145m to the hedgies!

Another relevant sleight of hand the Tories have used involves secretive unincorporated associations such as dinner clubs which don’t have to declare the identity of their members. Two of these well-endowed clubs have now greatly increased their donations to marginal seats. In this last quarter 34 Tory associations, all in marginal seats, received funds totalling £116m from these 2 clubs alone.

This has come about through surreptitious rule changes hidden deep within statutory instruments which Labour, to its discredit, failed to spot. That doesn’t however justify the widespread corruption of the democratic process by the Tories using any underhand and secretive devices to subvert the popular will. It is a blatant case of trying to buy elections. The Electoral Commission specifically warned against “excessive spending to prevent the perception of undue influence over the outcome of the election”. It’s ironic that Cameron when he first became leader of the Opposition, said he wanted to take big money (fat cats’ cheque books) out of politics. That was then. You can’t trust political leaders with devising fair rules for the allocation of funding just before a tight election. The Electoral Commission must be given statutory powers to control excess spending, enforceable when broken by deterrent fines and where necessary by criminal prosecutions.

5 Comments

  1. David Ellis says:

    `Democracy is a great system, except that those in power do their uttermost to subvert it, circumvent it, and twist it to their own ends, and quite often succeed.’

    That is the whole point of this `great system’. Bourgeois democracy is entirely formal and is supposed to be a contest between conflicting interests with the winners imposing their will on the losers. Money will and is supposed to always win this contest. What formal democracy is not is a discussion designed to arrive at a way forward that is in the interests of society as a whole. That would be workers or real democracy. Put it this way if the billions the super rich pour into elections to buy politicians, parties and results was not securing the desired ends that money would very quickly be diverted to the fascist gangsters the rullng class always keep in reserve for just such moments. As the saying goes, if voting changed anything they wouldn’t let you do it.

  2. John reid says:

    Not sure ,if this is undetAnd, labour spent more than the Tories in 2005 75% of labours spending in 1997 came from the private side,and recall 1979 when the closed shop meant everyone had to joina Union, that union had to give money to the labour party ,we knew the next election would be the most vicious since 1992′ we win the campaign,lost the election that time,
    The Tory press isn’t as strong as it was then,the tories haven’t got lost of ‘extremist’ stories about labour they had thrn to smear us now,
    They’re a smaller party not just cos of Ukip,
    But labour has a lot of keen strong members,and it’ll come doen to 70 or so marginal seats what happens, while not losing our working class votes in Newcastle,birmingham Luton Rotherham, Scotland , and if they’re not abstaining, or voting Ukip, we have to ask why they’re voting tory

  3. The Government’s decision to increase the General Election spending limit well in excess of the Electoral Commission’s recommendation needs to be forced to a Commons Division.

    Until the result of that Division has been announced, Labour should boycott Prime Minister’s Questions, simply refusing to attend, and quite reasonably picketing the building along with supporters.

  4. swatantra says:

    Trust the tories to bribe their way to victory. Remember Mrs T and her Right to Buy wheeze; and then there’s their Tax Cuts for the wealthyish, and give aways to the middle classes with ‘Free Schools’ gambit.
    In 2015 we’re going to see a lot of freebies in the Manifestto. Only they aren’t free because the majority of decent hardworking people will be paying for the few living the life of Riley.
    Already Lnodon is a Mcca for oligarchs and sheiks; we’ve sold off the family silver lock stock and barrel. Doesn’t it make you sick.

  5. John reid says:

    Swatantra, as labour had twice stood on manifestos to sell council homes, then In 76 reversed the policy, it gave the Tories an advantage in79 same as our policy to buy them Back in 83′ our family never bought our council home by the way.

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