Crick Reveals More Tory Expense Fiddles

Channel 4 News last night exposed more allegations about Tory overspending in South Thanet. Michael Crick’s investigation revealed:

  • More hotels booked that were not declared.
  • CCHQ Campaign Specialist Marion Little personally booked hotel rooms in her name, registered to her home adress in Hertfordshire.
  • Allegedly over 770 nights of hotel room bookings made, covering all three by-elections, were linked to Little.
  • An email in which Little coordinated moving equipment and activists between undeclared hotels.
  • The Tories legal agent for the whole campaign, Victoria Goff, signed off on an election declaration that omitted hotel overspends. This is despite her staying in a room at one of the undeclared hotels.
  • Local Conservatives working for the Tories in Clacton have now demanded an inquiry into potentially illegal by-election spending.

That’s plenty for the Electoral Commission to investigate then…

Man Who Lost to Clegg Running Again

Readers will remember how, just weeks before the election, Tom Watson diverted campaign resources away from key marginals in a doomed attempt to oust Nick Clegg. Now Labour’s loser candidate Oliver Coppard is running again in the Hillsborough by-election. That’ll go down well with Labour MPs who lost their seats while Coppard and Watson wasted resources on a humiliating vanity project.

Guido has the selection timetable:

Thurs 18 Feb: Applications open.

Wed 24 Feb 12noon: Close applications

Mon 29 Feb: Short-listing interviews.

Wed 2 Mar: Selection meeting in Sheffield.

Labour are inheriting a 14,000 majority from the late Harry Harpham. Even Coppard couldn’t throw that away…

Robert Jenrick Gets Cricked Over By-Election Expenses

The boys in blue are investigating the Tories.

The allegations are not going away…

Cops Called on Tory Hotel Overspend

Labour’s defeated Newark candidate Michael Payne has called the police in to investigate the Tories’ apparent by-election overspend. Watch Michael Crick’s report and read Guido’s story from this morning to see what they will be looking at. Now to see if this actually goes anywhere…

How Tories Hid Hotel and Transport Bills in Newark

Guido can shed some more light on how the Tories hid their by-election hotel bills in Newark. On 31 May 2014, over 350 young Tories boarded coaches and minibuses up to Newark for a day of campaigning. At the end of the day’s door-knocking, they needed something to eat and somewhere to stay. Paying for travel and hotels for that many people would rack up thousands in by-election expenses. So, the Tories ferried their activists to the Crowne Plaza hotel in Nottingham, outside of the constituency. There, Tory donors treated them to curry at an event named the “first annual RoadTrip dinner” – pictured above – where Rob Halfon and Eric Pickles gave speeches. After that they boozed at the Coco Lounge and NG1 bars, before returning to the hotel, where they made contributions to their room bills. The transport costs of ferrying the activists up to Newark and around Nottingham were apparently undeclared.

A source present says the meal and hotel were deliberately booked outside of the constituency, under the pretence of an “annual RoadTrip dinner”, to avoid appearing on the Newark by-election expenditure. They say this was by no means the only time this happened. A nifty little way of dodging the rules…

Labour Ogmore By-Election Bunfight

Labour MP Huw Irranca-Davies is stepping down from parliament after 14 years to run in the Welsh Assembly elections in May. Guido has been passed the timetable for the selection process to find Labour’s candidate in his Ogmore seat:

  • Self-nomination deadline: February 1, 12 noon
  • Shortlisting interview with NEC in London: February 2
  • Selection meeting: February 13
  • Expected by-election date: May 5

The local Labour party is up in arms over the rushed selection process and the decision to host the short-listing interview in London. One source describes this as a “good old fashioned stitch up” and another as “an absolute disgrace”.

Who will be the new MP? Local councillor Ceri Reeves is the wife of Irranca-Davies’ election agent and has been canvassing members for weeks. Corbynista sources say she is “very anti-Corbyn” and blame her for promoting the rumour that the leader’s office was attempting to parachute left-wing ex-MP Katy Clark into the seat. Corbyn’s team say the rumour is untrue. Other local councillors are considering making a formal complaint to Corbyn about the situation. Whether Reeves secures the nomination is seen as a proxy for the battle between Corbyn and the PLP…

Could South Thanet’s Result Be Overturned?

Crick is alleging that the Tories smashed the spending limits in an effort to defeat Nigel Farage.  It was treated by CCHQ like a by-election.  Even if UKIP prove it, would the Electoral Commission do anything about it? 

UPDATE: A legal source reminds Guido

The South Thanet misspending a not an Electoral Commission matter. It is a police matter and a criminal offence under sections 81, 82 and 84 of the representation of the people act 1983. If only someone could get the police to take it seriously.

Botch-erby: Labour Lose Seat Corbyn Visited Last Month

Three weeks ago Jeremy Corbyn was up in Cumbria, visiting flooded properties in the village of Botcherby with his Shadow Environment Secretary Kerry McCarthy. They clearly made a lasting impression. In the first local by-election of 2016 yesterday, independent candidate Jack Paton gained the Botcherby seat from Labour with an 11% swing. Will the floodgates open on May 5?

UKIP Attack “Security Risk” Corbyn

This is the UKIP window poster being put up in homes ahead of the Oldham by-election. Do not approach…[…]

+ READ MORE +

UKIP’s No Answer Campaign in Oldham

Nigel Farage and John Bickley launched UKIP’s by-election campaign HQ up in Oldham this morning, telling potential voters to give them a ring on a freephone 0800 number. Yet if you call the number advertised, budding ‘Kippers are told: “The […]

+ READ MORE +

UKIP Oldham West Runners and Riders

UKIP are already mobilising ahead of the Oldham West by-election. The party managed a respectable 21% there in May, though Michael Meacher leaves behind a formidable 14,000 majority. Guido gives you your runners and riders to be the UKIP candidate…[…]

+ READ MORE +

Rumour: Ed Balls to be Sent to Coventry?

Could Ed Balls soon be back in the Commons? There is a rumour going round that Labour’s veteran MP in Coventry North West, Geoffrey Robinson, who was at the centre of a huge internal row about whether he would stand […]

+ READ MORE +



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