Saturday, 22 February 2020

Brexit and the 2012 election was won by "Dark Money".

Both the Wasting Mule and BBC have given prominence to the news that Plaid Cymru has been fined £29,000 by the Electoral Commission for finance reporting failures.
The watchdog imposed the levy after the Welsh party submitted "nine inaccurate reports" regarding donations.
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: "The investigation found that the party submitted nine inaccurate reports over a two-year period, omitting a total of 36 cash donations worth more than £497,000. The party reported the donations in May 2018.
"The commission's investigations pointed to a lack of effective internal processes, which led to a failure to understand the reporting requirements."
The commission's director of regulation Louise Edwards said: "The total number and value of donations omitted from Plaid Cymru's quarterly reports is significant and reveals a substantial degree of non-compliance.
"Plaid Cymru is a well-established party and it should be able to meet its reporting obligations.
"It is vital that voters can see full and accurate financial records that show where a political party's money comes from.laid had failed to declare cash from the 
House of Commons authorities, and some cash from the Electoral Commission.
Whilst there is no excuse for Plaid Failings to declare, it is  clear that these donations were not from individuals and there were no attempt to hide them as A spokesman for the party said it corrected the oversight when it was notified and "is now in compliance".The fine must be paid within a fortnight.Opposition parties that win MPs at Westminster are entitled to so-called "Short money", which they can use to help them with their costs.The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 states that "any payment out of public funds received by a registered party shall be regarded as a donation received by the party from a permissible donor".

According to the Electoral Commission, the party submitted nine inaccurate reports over a two-year period, omitting what it described as 36 cash donations worth more than £497,000.

The commission said Plaid then reported the donations in May 2018. Investigations "pointed to a lack of effective internal processes, which led to a failure to understand the reporting requirements", it said

It lead to the Tory AM Andrew Davies  to retweet this from  Darren Grimes
I'm looking forward to 's investigation into the Remain-backing, left-wing Plaid Cymru. I'm sure there'll be a 'dark money' splash on the front cover of The Guardian tomorrow! Right?
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Helen Catt
Plaid Cymru has been fined £29k by the Electoral Commission for failing to accurately report donations. EC investigation found the party filed 9 inaccurate reports over 2 yrs omitting a total of 36 cash donations worth more than £497k. The party reported the donations in May 2018
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While at university,Grimes founded the pro-Brexit group BeLeave aimed at younger voters during the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum campaign. In 2018, Grimes was fined £20,000 by the Electoral Commission after they determined that there was evidence that BeLeave had spent more than £675,000 with the Canadian political consultancy firm AggregateIQ in coordination with the official Brexit campaign organisation Vote Leave to distribute targeted social media advertisements.[10] This was alleged to have broken electoral spending rules, and that Grimes and Vote Leave official David Halsall had made false declarations relating to the spending.[11] Grimes and Halsall were also referred to the police by the Commission.[12] Both Vote Leave and Grimes initiated appeals against the sanctions. Vote Leave withdrew their appeal and paid their fine of £61,000 in March 2019. In July, Grimes won an appeal against his fine. He had raised over £90,000 through crowdfunding for his legal defence. The court ordered the Electoral Commission to pay for his legal costs.] In the same year, he was listed in talk radio station LBC's list of top 100 most influential conservatives of 2019.[

So Mr Grimes has a past whenn it comes accusations "Dark Money" and it appears that Andrew R T Davies Aand the BBC and Mule) maybe should be looking at claims that.Tories who won Welsh target seats received ‘dark money’ donations

Nation Cymru report that.

More than half of donations received by new Conservative MPs in Wales came from secretive fundraising clubs based in the south-east of England.Six of the nine new Conservative MPs elected in Wales received a combined 15 donations totalling £53,750, according to the new register of MPs’ interests.The source for 55% of that sum (£29,750) was a network of clubs and funds used by the Conservative party to allow rich supporters to donate money anonymously which is usually targeted at candidates in marginal seats.The funding is legal but transparency campaigners have called for a change to the rules so that the origins of political donations are revealed.James Davies, who won the Vale of Clwyd from Labour’s Chris Ruane, received the highest number of such donations of any of the new Welsh Conservative MPs.He received £2,500 from the political committee of the Carlton Club, a further £2,500 from the Association of Conservative Clubs and two donations worth £3,500 from the United and Cecil Club.Both the Carlton Club and United and Cecil Clubs are unincorporated associations which don’t have to register gifts made to them with the Electoral Commission under the value of £7,500.Virginie Crosbie (Ynys Môn) and Sarah Atherton (Wrexham) both won their seats and received a £3,500 contribution each from the United and Cecil Club, described by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism as “an organisation registered at a stables in the Home Counties” which “is playing an increasingly crucial role in funding election bids in the most tightly contested constituencies”.They were among 36 successful candidates who shared a pot of £113,500 in anonymous donations from the United and Cecil club at this election, according to a new investigation by Open Democracy.
 ‘Transparency’Craig Williams, who took the Montgomeryshire seat of retiring Glyn Jones, also received £5,000 from the Association of Conservative Clubs, which is a limited company that represents unincorporated associations across Britain.Fay Jones, who won Brecon and Radnorshire, received £5,000 from the Stalbury Trustees via a Mayfair based law firm.She was one of 26 successful candidates to receive £116,000 from the Stalbury Trustees, according to Open Democracy.Companies House records show that Stalbury Trustees has four directors: the Seventh Marquis of Salisbury, the Seventh Earl of Verulam, Lord Charles Cecil and stockbroker David Barnett.Rob Roberts, who won Delyn from Labour, received £4,250 from the Tandridge Club based in East Surrey. The club also donated to the successful Tory candidates in Colne Valley and Ashfield.Simon Barnes (Clwyd South), Robin Millar (Aberconwy) and Jamie Wallis (Bridgend) were the three successful Conservative candidates in Wales who haven’t registered donations from such sources.Steve Goodrich, head of research at Transparency International, told Open Democracy: “Unincorporated associations make it far too easy for those shy of publicity to withhold their names from public view.“Whilst this may be within the current rules, it also shows the rules aren’t achieving their aim: providing transparency and probity over the origins of money in politics.
If the Electoral Commission really wanted to do their job it , be better to concentrate in such allegations rather than an easy target like  the errors Plaid about donations that the commission already knew about and forensically examine the whole issue of Dark Money.

I may be widely of the mark , but if every MP who was elected last September had their electoral expenses forensically examines , then few would escape clean.

That's the problem  Parties particularly the Tories know full well that the commission or any agency do not have the manpower, resources  or powers to and forensically examine the whole issue of Dark Money to ensure we have an equal playing field .

Our democracy can be bought by those with those with most money and by those from outside the UK.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Leader of Welsh Tories agrees to pay £40,000 legaal costs.

For some reason the news that the he leader of the Welsh Conservatives agreed to pay £40,000 in costs and a nominal £2 in damages in settlement of his legal dispute with one of his AMs. has not been intensively covered by the Welsh Media
ITV however  tells us that

Nick Ramsay had sued Paul Davies but the two men reached agreement earlier this month, bringing the case to an end.
As well as the payments, a High Court order declared that the parties agreed that Mr Ramsay ‘was never lawfully suspended’ from the Conservative Assembly group.
Mr Davies had taken the action after Mr Ramsay had been arrested at his home in Raglan in Monmouthshire at around 8pm on New Year's Day.
He was released from custody the following afternoon, with Gwent Police stating that he would face no further action, but he wasn't readmitted to the group at that time.
In an unusual case, the AM then sued the Assembly group leader, Paul Davies and at an initial hearing in Bristol on 31st January Judge Jonathan Russen QC ordered the suspension to be lifted ahead of further hearings.
He’d said, “In my judgement, it is appropriate that he is restored to the membership of the group.” Mr Ramsay’s lawyer, David Lock QC had argued that Mr Davies "lacked the power" to maintain the suspension and had not conformed to the rules of the group's constitution.
Following that decision Nick Ramsay returned to his role in the Senedd but difficulties remained within the Conservative group with Mr Davies staying away from group meetings on legal advice.
The two men announced that they had reached agreement on 13th February with both saying they were pleased the matter had been resolved. At the time, Mr Davies added that it was “clear that there is a need to review the disciplinary processes within the Welsh Conservative group in order to ensure that they are fit for purpose in the future."
Neither the Welsh Conservatives nor Nick Ramsay wished to comment on reports of the details of the agreement.

One wonders if it was the UK  leader  Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson , who had suspended one of his MPs , in similar circumstance , would the judiciary come to the same conclusion?

Clearly since the bouts of scandals over the last decade and the media outrage has seen all political parties acting swiftly to suspend anyone who might be seen to have damaged the Party with their actions especially if it involved the police.

Paul Davies may have been too slow to restore "the whip" to Mr Ramsay after it became clear that he was nor facing charges .

This actions may have seen the likelyhood of any Tory Party investigation into Mr Ramsay's arrest unlikely.

What it has done is weaken the authority of the Tories in the Assembly and more than likely widen divisions the party in the senedd .

With a year to go until the Senedd  elections the possibility of a challenge to Paul Davies 18 month tenure cannot be ruled out .

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Over half the population of NI would vote for reunification.

As a new poll shows just over half of people in Northern Ireland would vote for Irish unification if there were a border poll tomorrow there must be a serious move to accomonate those who oppose it.

The poll, published by Lord Ashcroft, shows that 45% of those surveyed said they would vote to stay in the UK, while 46% said they would choose to leave and join the Republic of Ireland. 
This breaks down to 51% to 49% for unification when don’t knows and those who say they would not vote are excluded.
“This is in fact a statistical tie, and well within the margin of error,” Lord Ashcroft said in his analysis of the results.
“Such a result might also reflect the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Brexit, the Irish border and its potential effect on life in the province, which could recede when the outcome is settled,” he said.
“Be that as it may, the result underlines what could be at stake in the quest for a workable Brexit solution on the island of Ireland.”
Lord Ashcroft is a businessman and politician. Since the 2010 election, he has conducted independent public polls relating to British political opinions.
1,542 adults in Northern Ireland were interviewed online between 30 August and 2 September for his latest poll on Irish unification. 

Such is the diversions in the six counties  however that many Unionists will not only reject "The will of the people " but will resort to violence to achieve it.

We do not want a new version of the "Troubles" in which we see Dublin sending its soldiers to patrol the streets of Belfast.

I have ofyen pondered if a truly democratic progressive and non sectarian Unionists party applied to the European Free Aliance as a Ulster Party see seeking some form of  autonomy either from the British State or the Irish Republic would they be admitted.

The late Welsh Historian  John (Bwlch-llan) would sometimes tease his Irish  contemporaries by pointing out that because Ireland was an Island , it was no reason for it to be united.

The Problem in Northern Ireland, Ulster, Six Counties (the name often defines where you stand) , is that many  rather than want autonomy want to be part of another country, which itself is likely to see huge constitutional changes and even ceasing to survive as a Union.

If Ireland is united (and I support it) , then it should be as a nation that devolves power not only to Ulster , but its other historic counties.

The Northern Ireland Assembly should exit as it does now under the constitution of the Irish Republic.

Even now we seem to see the old sectarian divisions  crumble and it may be that the DUP 's  resistance to Irish language equality will be the swan song of Ulster Unionism.

In both the UK and in Ireland major change is on the way those on all sides must do thier best to see it happens democratically and peacefully.


Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Independence : Scotland and Wales face an unknown future, but a better one than now.

It is clear that the LEAVE side won the argument for Brexit partly b by making false promises like this
Image result for boris bus brexit

It may well be that post Brexit  ,the public may be cynical over claims that Independence for both Scotland and Wales , wil se us much better offf.

As the  number of Indy Curious in Wales increases then the case for Independence  must not make unsubstantiated claims  of a Golden Dawn or a New Jerusalem.

We face a struggle to counter the  "Too Small and Too Poor argument ." but as the . Map showing income levels in England and Wales. There's no need to explain what the colours represent. Shameful and unacceptable in a so called equal union.  and rather than a case against Independence , we need to show that under the union this has and will always be the case.

No photo description available.

It took Ireland a long time for the economic benefits of Independence to show , indeed arguably only after joining what was then the Common Market did things begin to change .

Not at any time was there a call for Ireland to rejoin the Union and I suspect that , that many were correct in thinking that , if Ireland had not won its independence then it would have fallen even further behind.

We must be honest in that by voting for Independence , we face an unknown future , but that we believe it will be a better one than the present one under the Union.