The Times : Tories to flout election cost laws

The Time is running a story today that highlight's the Tories aim to spend more than the election expenses laws permit on campaigning for this year's local elections. Read the story HERE.

There is a wonderful quote in the story from Hazel (is there a minister more useless than me ?) Blears, saying ;

“People will find it unfair that one party can significantly outspend another in this way. This proves the Labour party’s point to Sir Hayden Phillips’s inquiry (into party funding) about the need for annual spending caps.”

Of course Labour never complained in the mid 90's when they had the funds to outspend everyone else, of indeed in key wards in Manchester last year when Labour spent heavily to outspend the Lib Dems using phone banks, autodialers and posted leaflets. Then again, with Labour reportedly £27 million in debt, of course they fear being outspent.

You can read the full Tory local election manual HERE. I have to say, being completely fair, that 95% of it could have been taken (and probably was) from similar Lib Dem manuals, but I cannot remember the Lib Dems encouraging me to flout election spending laws.


Antony said...

I am bemused by this story Nich. The manual asks Tories to raise more than they can spend (as if ANY party turns people away saying "nope, we've got enough thank you"...).

Labour's faux outrage is, as you say, quite interesting. All parties spend a fortune pre-campaign and those who say they don't are lying. Before the 05 GE here in Norwich I recieved several pieces of direct mail from then-Party Leader Charles Kennedy and phone calls too.

All parties do it because ... it is within the law.

If Labour don't like it then change it. But they should't pretend that they don't do it.

Duncan Borrowman said...

I've just written the 5th Edition of the Campaigns Manual - no such advice in that!

Iain Dale said...

Nich, as you well know, the manual says nothing of the sort. It is common practice before any campaign to launch a fighting fund appeal. You may raise £50,000 but if the limit is £30,000 you only spend £30,000 and carry the surplus over. That's what happens in all three parties. The Sunday Times story was not a story.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I was reporting on The Sunday Times story and I did try to offer some balance saying the majority of it is similar to advice being given by other parties.

Andy said...

Bit touchy there, Iain? Nich's post reads like an attack-piece against Labour and treads so softly-softly about the Tories that I'm starting to get worried about him...