#Toryelectionfraud – a quick summary of the most important points
During recent weeks numerous police forces around England have been investigating the Conservative Party over alleged fraud, on the basis of allegations that campaigning expenses at the 2015 General Election were not declared in line with the law. Expensive campaigning in 26 marginal constituencies, won by the Conservatives, was not declared as an expense in those constituencies, being instead reported as part of their national campaign. Much of the evidence that has come to light stems from an in-depth investigation by Channel 4 News. Some national newpapers have taken up the story. The BBC news, under the pro-Tory editorship of Laura Kuenssberg, has largely tried to ignore a developing scandal of probable electoral fraud, which happened last year on a scale not seen since the Rotten Boroughs of the nineteenth century.
There has been lively debate, and sharing of information, on Twitter, with tens of thousands of Tweets posted using the hashtag #Toryelectionfraud.
The purpose of this Blog post is to provide a summary of developments, with links to the significant online information. I intend to return with updates at intervals, but here is a quick starter.
People’s Electoral Commission campaign by the Daily Mirror – webpage has images of Tory MP expenses and a timeline of events in the investigation so many of us are joining
Tory boasts about their long-term plan to win marginals in 2015, with a £300,000 central budget
February 29 2016 Daily Mirror details of 24 Conservative MPs exceeding expenses limits
Summary from Channel 4, on April 20, of their investigation to that point. At the end of the webpage there is a link to another piece with more detail.
Electoral Commission statement, April 28
Alison Hernandez, Tory Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, being investigated by police for her role as agent at 2015 election, refuses to stand down
On May 6, the day after polling for local, mayoral, and PCC elections, BBC “break”?? news of multiple police investigations into Conservative expenses
Multiple police investigations, summary by Mark Pack May 9. The number has since grown to 19 police forces investigating 28 MPs.
The David Cameron letters – Canary May 13http://www.thecanary.co/2016/05/13/explosive-new-evidence-suggests-david-cameron-broke-election-laws-win-2015/
May 13 Lib Dems want police to investigate 2015 letter from David Cameron targeted at marginal Torbay, Devon, but not declared as local spend.
A similar letter from Cameron was used by Conservatives in Southampton Itchen, a marginal they gained from Labour. I twice asked Royston Smith, now Conservative MP for the constituency, if this was declared as local spend, but he did not reply. His election agent has previously blocked me on Twitter. It appears the cost was not declared locally, and I have forwarded Smith’s expenses return to Hampshire Police, asking them to investigate.
In 2015 Royston Smith was investigated by the police for passing confidential information held by the Conservatives about voters to UKIP, as part of an apparent joint effort between the parties to defeat Labour in Southampton Itchen
Andrew Neil mentions developments, and Conservatives argue on their own website about dubious legality, May13 onwards
Summary from New Statesman May 17
David Cameron admits Conservative Party may have made “misdeclarations” in their expenses. He also says “IN THE END I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING” May 22
Scottish National Party report the Conservative Party to the Metropolitan Police, May 22
Tories challenge investigation of their expenses in Thanet May 24 http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/kent-police-goes-to-court-96365/
The David Cameron letters – Zelo Street May 25
The best source on Twitter is Eoin
Another tireless Twitter campaigner is Rachael, linking the expenses issue to Tory MPs cutting disability benefits, with some imaginative graphics