Friday, 23 June 2017

Tories may have broken electoral expenses law again.

A Channel 4 News investigation has found. The Conservative Party contracted a secretive call centre during the election campaign which may have broken data protection and election laws,

An undercover reporter working for Channel 4 News secured work at Blue Telecoms, a firm in Neath, South Wales.

The report says

In an area plagued by unemployment and low wages, the call centre hired up to a hundred people on zero-hours contracts. For weeks, they contacted thousands of potential voters in marginal seats across the UK.
The investigation has uncovered what appear to be underhand and potentially unlawful practices at the centre, in calls made on behalf of the Conservative Party. These allegations include:● Paid canvassing on behalf of Conservative election candidates – banned under election law.● Political cold calling to prohibited numbers● Misleading calls claiming to be from an ‘independent market research company’ which does not apparently exist

Channel 4 News obtained evidence that at least ten key marginal seats were targeted by the call centre on election day. Calls were placed to voters in Caerphilly, Camarthen East, Ceredigion, Pontypridd, Torfaen, Newport West, Bridgend, Gower, Clywd South and Wrexham.

During election day, on the 8th of June, callers at Blue Telecoms were told that they would spend the day making calls on behalf of named Conservative parliamentary candidates in Wales.

Guidance from the Electoral Commission for candidates and agents says: ‘During the campaign, you must not…pay canvassers. Canvassing means trying to persuade an elector to vote for or against a particular candidate or party’

The candidates were named during the calls and, again, floating voters were subjected to key Conservative messages.

 Interestingly in some of these marginal seats Carmarthen East for example if the "Canvassers" stuck to the Corbyn script and not mentioned Plaid they may encouraged voters to vote Labour

Indeed as the result proved the Labour and Tory vote rose in nearly every constituency as Plaid was squeegeed.

The Tories may have wasted their money but they did manage to push the Two Party sytem, which would please the two Unionist parties.
Will this revelation make a difference ?

Well the Tories failed to win any of thee above seats but even if they did the Electoral Commission and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have proved to be toothless over the Tories in particular when it comes to breaking electoral rules.

One Question remains is the Welsh example , the only one or have call centres in other parts of the UK? and ave other parties also done this?

I suspect that because all parties sail close to the wind when it comes to electoral expenses, they are not going to pour over opponents declarations and highlight irregularities.

But is it not time somebody did and we had a proper audit after the election ,

Canada has the same electoral system as us and Wikipedia supply s similar results page for each constituency .

But with one  stark difference as becomes cleat when we lok at Prime Ministers Trudeau result
LiberalJustin Trudeau26,39151.98+14.05$129,821.55
New DemocraticAnne Lagacé Dowson13,13225.87-3.6$111,652.95
Bloc QuébécoisMaxime Claveau6,18212.18-12.71$19,007.27
ConservativeYvon Vadnais2,3904.71-0.33$5,649.91
GreenDanny Polifroni1,4432.84+0.95$82.71
IndependentChris Lloyd5050.99$5,759.41
RhinocerosTommy Gaudet3230.64
IndependentKim Waldron1590.31$2,101.20
Marxist–LeninistPeter Macrisopoulos1420.28-0.25
No affiliationBeverly Bernardo1030.2
Total valid votes/Expense limit50,770100.0$213,091.49
Total rejected ballots698
Eligible voters78,64

As you can see the candidates "declared" expenditure is included
how accurate this is may be open to question  but it would be useful to see a similar  practise for UK results.

At least we would have some idea just how much a Parties expenditure affects the result.

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