Published:

67 comments

Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

And so the Crown Prosecution Service decided to take no further action against the 14 MPs that the Electoral Commission fingered for allegedly filing inaccurate election expenses after the 2015 election. It has left left Craig Mackinlay in Thanet swinging in the wind, but I suspect he’ll be OK. I can’t imagine the CPS now making a decision on his case before polling day.

If it does, that could be a James Comey moment. When the election is over, some serious questions need to be asked about the conduct of the Electoral Commission. It is clear they have acted in a party-political manner. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats filed their expenses in exactly the same way as the Conservatives did, and yet no action was taken. They also only targeted Tory candidates who got elected. They did nothing about those whose expenses were also supposedly inaccurate, but failed to get elected.

Each time I have asked the Electoral Commission for an interview, it has refused point blank. These people think they are accountable to no one.

I’ve said for a long time that this organisation is out of control and not fit for purpose. I hope the whole bloody thing is abolished. Electoral matters used to come under the remit of the Home Office, and it all worked perfectly well. There was little electoral fraud, and the postal voting system wasn’t abused.

If Nick Timothy is reading this, I’d imagine he has a lot of sympathy with what I have said. Let me put this idea into his head: I hope that an Electoral Commission (Abolition) Bill will be in Theresa May’s first Queen’s Speech. I suspect I will live in hope on that, but you never know.

– – – – – – – – – –

UKIP pretend that they are only standing down candidates where the Conservative MP or Tory candidate has an impeccable record of supporting Brexit. It’s simply not true.

In Norfolk, the party is not fielding a candidate against Chloe Smith in Norwich North, who was a devout Remain supporter, if I remember rightly. They’re also not standing in Norwich South, which could enable a big electoral surprise to happen. Clive Lewis, the Labour candidate, who won the seat in 2015, and is seen as a possible successor to Jeremy Corbyn, could be in a bit of trouble.

My old opponent in North Norfolk may also be experiencing a sensation of the squeaky bum variety. Norman Lamb has a majority of around 4,500. UKIP’s vote last time there was more than 8,000, and it isn’t standing a candidate. The recently selected Conservative candidate there, James Wild, may well find all his Christmases have come at once.

All this means that my prediction of a Tory majority of 130 may well have to be revised upwards, depending on how many UKIP candidates are standing in Labour/Conservatve or LibDem/Conservative marginals. Nominations closed at 4pm yesterday, so at the time of writing, the numbers are not yet clear.

It is in many ways shameful that UKIP isn’t standing in every seat. It is supposed to be a national political party. Just like the fraudulent “Progressive Alliance” (commonly known as the “Anyone But The Tories’ Alliance”), it won’t be giving its supporters a chance to vote for it. The LibDems are standing down in several seats too, so there are only two parties now who can genuinely call themselves ‘national’ parties.

– – – – – – – – – –

Michael Crick tweeted a very serious allegation this week. He wrote: “What shocks me is reporters collaborating with May press team by agreeing to reveal their questions to them in advance.”

I responded by asking him to provide some evidence for that. He declined to do so. He can’t – because there is none. He’s impugned the character of such people as Laura Kuennsberg, Faisal Islam and various print newspaper journalists. He should put up or withdraw.

I know of no journalist who would ever consider giving details of their questions to politicians in advance. I have never been asked to do so, and nor would I ever do so. To suggest that others would is an absolute disgrace.

– – – – – – – – – –

I do sometimes wonder about some people who run for political office. Last Friday, I was ambling to Charing Cross Station, and encountered a Government Minister on his bike, cycling around without a seeming care in the world.

OK, he’s in a safe seat, but at seven o’clock on a Friday evening you might have thought he’d be out canvassing, along with the poor bloody infantry. And then I see the Conservative candidate for Natasha Ashgar trumpeting on Twitter about her music tour: “Tonight Leicester, tomorrow Manchester…”.

Call me old fashioned, but I’d have thought if you’d just been selected in a highly marginal seat, which the Conservatives might expect to win, you’d clear your diary, head down to Newport (assuming that she knows where it is), and put your shoulder to the campaigning wheel. Maybe it was different in “my day”.

– – – – – – – – – –

I had a text from a friend of mine in Norwich South yesterday. “OMG Labour canvassing on my doorstep and I told them I wouldn’t be voting for Clive Lewis as he was a tosser. Poor lad could only reply: “You’re not the first to say that today.” And my friend isn’t even a Tory!

– – – – – – – – – –

Quote of the week from Nadhim Zahawi on my radio show: “Theresa May is not a Prime Minister for soundbites…”. Mind you, he did say it in a very strong and stable way… without the hand of history on his shoulder.

67 comments for: Iain Dale: There must be a reckoning for the Electoral Commission after the election

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.