Thursday, 24 September 2020

How much Party donations and expenditure would pass forensic examanation?

Can it be as far back as ao October 1994 when The Guarcash-for-questions affair" was a political scandal of the 1990s in the United Kingdom.y lobbyist,Ian Greer of Ian Greer Associates, had bribed two Conservative Members of Parliament to ask parliamentary questions and perform other tasks on behalf of the Egyptian owner of Harrods department store, Mohamed Al-Fayed.

TIt would be folowed up by Cash-for-Honours scandal (also known as Cash for PeeragesLoans for LordshipsLoans for Honours or Loans for Peerages) was a political scandal in the United Kingdom in 2006 and 2007 concerning the connection between political donations and the award of life peerages. A loophole in electoral law in the United Kingdom means that although anyone donating even small sums of money to a political party has to declare this as a matter of public record, those loaning money at commercial rates of interest did not have to make a public declaration.

In March 2006, several men nominated for life peerages by then Prime Minister Tony Blair[1] were rejected by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. It was later revealed they had loaned large amounts of money to the governing Labour Party,

You would have thought that by now the UK  Parliament, would have sought to end such flagrant breaches of the democratic process where even where it is apparently not illegal  if you have money you canh still seem to have influence by donating to a Political Party.

Nation Cymru recently reported 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.

The Nation have also reported  that 

Alun Cairns set up a Westminster interest group for energy security months after receiving a donation from an energy company at the heart of a row about lobbying by another Conservative MP.

Last June, the Vale of Glamorgan MP registered a £5,000 donation to his general election campaign fund from Aquind Ltd, a company with plans to build an electricity interconnector between England and France.

The company’s director, Alexander Temerko, has donated more than £1 million to the Tories.

After winning re-election, Cairns established the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for energy security.

He is listed as the “chair and registered contact” for the group which held its first meeting in February this year, the UK Parliament register of APPG’s shows.

The purpose of the group is to “promote the security of energy supply in the UK”.

Temerko is described on his personal website as a “vocal champion of UK energy security and independence”, while Aquind’s website states that its interconnector is needed to “ensure additional security and diversity of energy supply.”

The funding from Aquind is completely legal. However, Cairns’ formation of the group could raise questions after fellow Conservative MP David Morris was ordered to apologise by Parliament’s standards watchdog for breaching rules on donations tied to the same company.

Morris had accepted a donation of £10,000 from Aquind last September. A month later he used Business Questions in the Commons to call on the UK government to urge energy regulator Ofgem to “protect British companies by granting regulation as soon as possible” for Aquind’s project.

He followed up his request the next day with an email to the UK Business Secretary.

Westminster’s standards commissioner found his actions broke paragraph 12 of the code of conduct for MPs which states: “No Member shall act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House.”

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Lib Dems, told Nation.Cymru that it was important to ensure that the activities of Alun Cairns’ cross-party group were transparent.

“Discussing energy security is a very noble cause, however it would be interesting to know what the precise aims and objectives of this group are,” she said.

“Alun Cairns and other members of this group need to ensure that the group’s activities are clear and fully transparent.”

I don't live in a marginal seat  so probably do not see the sort of campaigning in marginal seats but  Political parties' spend is  capped at £30,000 for each constituency that it contests in a general election and one wonders how many through some creative accounting keep withi the limit and if we had a effective election commission  and  Conservative proposals to abolish or significantly revamp the Electoral Commission is hardly going to give it electoral teeth.

One thing that would be useful if  Wikipedia copied the same system of constituency results in  Canada where often you can see how much each party spent in each riding 9Consituency)

2019 Canadian federal election
ConservativePhilip Lawrence27,38539.7+0.14$68,864.16
LiberalKim Rudd24,97736.2-6.31$83,715.67
New DemocraticMallory MacDonald9,61513.9-0.9$8,871.55
GreenJeff Wheeldon5,5248.0+4.87none listed
People'sFrank Vaughan1,4602.1$1,643.34
Total valid votes/Expense limit68,961100.0  
Total rejected ballots484
Eligible voters96,841
Conservative gain from LiberalSwing+3.23

2019 Canadian federal election
ConservativeDan Albas31,13547.9+8.34$45,571.84
LiberalMary Ann Murphy16,25225.0-12.21$46,808.57
New DemocraticJoan Phillip10,90416.8-2.50$29,000.61
GreenRobert Mellalieu5,0867.8+3.87none listed
People'sAllan Duncan1,3452.1-none listed
LibertarianJesse Regier2130.3-none listed
Total valid votes/Expense limit64,935100.0
Total rejected ballots341
Eligible voters

Not all are listed but you can get some idea  see more here.

2019 Canadian federal election
New DemocraticLaurel Collins23,76533.2%-9.1
GreenRacelle Kooy21,38329.9%-3.0$78,891.28
LiberalNikki Macdonald15,95222.3%+10.5
ConservativeRichard Caron9,03812.6%+0.8
People'sAlyson Culbert9201.3%-$5,286.41
Animal ProtectionJordan Reichert2210.3%0.0
CommunistRobert Duncan1130.2%-
IndependentDavid Shebib1110.2%-
VCPKeith Rosenberg460.1%-
Total valid votes/Expense limit71,54999.3% $121,316.37
Total rejected ballots4750.7%
Eligible voters94,627
New Democratic holdSwing
Source: Elections Canada[3][4]

 Whether such a easy system would help us to see any correlation between , the amount spent on seat and the outcome.

Of course we also need forensic examination of the Parties overall spending and donations, but the current system stinks and in the sixteen years since 2Cash for Questions"  scandal it has hardly improved.

No comments: