THE NEW WORKER

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 12th May 2017


Tories off the hook on election fraud

by Daphne Liddle

THE CROWN Prosecution Service (CPS) on Wednesday ruled that it would not be pursuing election fraud cases about the assignation of expenses for the activities of the Tory battle bus against 20 sitting Tory MPs.

Tory Party chair Patrick McLoughlin crowed: “We are pleased that the legal authorities have confirmed what we believed was the case all along: that these Conservative candidates did nothing wrong. These were politically motivated and unfounded complaints that have wasted police time. We are glad that this matter is finally resolved. A number of false and malicious claims continue to be spread on the internet.”

He has misread the CPS ruling. They have dropped the case so nothing has been proved one way or another. The reason the CPS gave was: “Although there is evidence to suggest returns may be inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence that anyone knew they were inaccurate.”

In other words the CPS could not prove the Tories knew that what they were doing was wrong. We may wonder whatever happened to the principle that ignorance of the law is no excuse?

The laws governing the careful monitoring of election expenses were introduced by the Tories, ostensibly to give a level playing field to all the contending candidates regardless of their wealth. But in reality it was to undermine trade union funding to the Labour Party.

But having passed the laws the Tories were under a moral responsibility to be very careful not to break them.

The CPS decision was also probably swayed very much by the impending general election for 8th June. Had they gone ahead with a prosecution and it was proved that expenses were wrongly recorded it would have forced new by-elections in the affected constituencies. But with a general election under-way the MPs in those constituencies face a re-election challenge in any case.

Without a general election a few weeks away a number of Tory MPs, between 12 and 20, would have had to stand down at least during a by-election period — leaving Theresa May with no majority in Parliament and with her own party deeply divided over Brexit negotiations. She would have been sunk; hence her decision to call a general election.

Had the CPS decided to go ahead (a CPS ruling by itself does not determine guilt or innocence — it merely enables the issue to be tested in court), according to the BBC’s Norman Smith: “If charges had been brought, that could have plunged local campaigns in key marginal seats... into complete chaos.

“Candidates would have had to stand down and new candidates ‘parachuted in’. The Conservatives can now regroup and get on with their election campaign.”

Last week’s local election results were not good for Labour but they were based on low turnouts. General elections usually have a higher turnout but Labour’s success will depend on the party’s ability to motivate the millions of people who do not usually vote.

Meanwhile Theresa May’s efforts at communicating with the masses are going from bad to worse. Her appearances are tightly controlled and the general public kept well away. Only party-approved journalists are allowed near.

What May cannot control is a damning new report from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) into the conduct of successive Conservative-led governments. It is overarching, criticising the lack of action in hundreds of areas.

These include: the Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) Inquiry; hate crime provoked by the British media; child refugees; and child poverty. Unfortunately the finding of the report can legally be ignored by the Government.

But no doubt they can be quoted extensively in Labour election campaigning material.

The UNHRC report is based on data from hundreds of campaign groups, charities and organisations that were asked to submit evidence.

The UNHRC has made 227 recommendations, which are now accessible on line. And the need to press for a Labour victory was underlined last week with the news that in Dorset some NHS GP services have started to charge for consultations. Those who cannot pay will have to wait four weeks for a seven-minute consultation with a GP unless they are prepared to pay £40 for a ten-minute phone consultation, £80 for a 20-minute face-to-face appointment or £145 for a 40-minute consultation. So far this trial has been reported only in the local press.

And Virgin Care, the health-centred arm of Richard Branson’s vast business empire, is suing the NHS because it failed to win the renewal of its contract to provide children’s services in Surrey.