Top LibDem Avoided Overspend By Not Declaring Battle Bus

This video shows the LibDem election battle bus rocking up in Duncan Hames’ Chippenham constituency on April 29 2015. At the time the Guardian reported the bus was used by the LibDems to ferry activists from London to constituencies around the country so they could deliver leaflets. It was used for local campaigning in individual seats, just like the buses hired by the Tories and Labour

Below is the short campaign spending return submitted by Duncan Hames. Despite the bus being used for his local campaign, Hames declared Nil transport costs:

As you can see, Hames’ spending limit for the short campaign was £15,236.61. He came very close to the limit, within just £98, spending £15,138.20. If he had declared the bus in his short campaign spend, Hames would have breached the rules. This is therefore going to be a particularly tricky one to explain. The Tories were at it, so were Labour, and so were the LibDems…

UPDATE: Despite briefing the Guardian that the bus “will take party campaigners around the country over the next six weeks running up to the general election”, the LibDems now deny that ever happened and say this bus was only ever used by Clegg, his staff and press, and no door-knockers. Worth reading the Guardian report of the bus tour however:

“Activists, the majority of whom had been bussed up from London, visited nearby residential streets to deliver leaflets and put up the 300th Lib Dem stake board in the constituency.”

The LibDems say that report was wrong and all of this didn’t happen…

Two More Labour Candidates Didn’t Declare Election Buses

This morning Guido revealed Labour’s election battles buses had not been declared in local spending, the exact same trickery which engulfed the Tories in an election fraud scandal. Well, it appears to be widespread…

On April 4 2015, MPs and activists boarded a Labour Express battle bus to Pudsey in order to help the local campaign there. Labour was bussing activists – “troops” as they called them – to a key marginal seat to knock on doors. This should have been declared in the local campaign spend for the short campaign. As you can see below, it wasn’t…

The Labour Express battle bus visited Weaver Vale on January 24 2015, ferrying in a considerable number of canvassers:

Yet in the Weaver Vale long campaign spend, transport costs are nil:

This is really no different to what the Tories were doing. Transport costs for battle buses clearly used for local campaigning have not been declared in the local campaign spend. It’s not dissimilar to the expenses scandal – what was seen at first as party specific, was actually endemic…

Labour Battle Bus Not Declared in Local Spending

Labour should be shouting from the rafters about the Tory election fraud scandal, instead broadcasters report that they can’t get Labour MPs to comment on the issue. Alan Johnson, ambushed by Andrew Neil on This Week, said he knew nothing. The reason, Guido suspects, is that other parties were partial to the same spending trickery…

The “Labour Express” battle bus tour ferried activists to constituencies across the country during the regulated spending period. On February 18 2015 a Labour Express bus visited Ealing Central and Acton, where Rupa Huq went on to unseat Tory MP Angie Bray. As you can see above, this is identical to what the Tories were doing – bussing in activists to take part in local campaigning, which then should have been declared as part of the party’s local rather than national spend. Here is the big problem: Rupa Huq’s Ealing Central and Acton declaration states Nil on transport during the long campaign…

This means that Labour’s successful candidate Rupa Huq enjoyed the benefit of a battle bus for her local campaign, yet she did not declare it in her local spending. The Tories are in huge trouble with the police for apparently doing the exact same thing. This is going to be a major problem for other parties as well… Guido has been compiling a dossier, more examples to come…

Tory Hunk’s Taxpayer-Funded Social Media Juice

mercer fb

Soapy hunk Johnny Mercer should have no problem getting social media followers. Those shower commercials should mean he has all the ingredients required for likes, follows, and re-tweets galore. Surprising then that this Tory totty has charged the taxpayer £2,500 on expenses for “professional services” on social media management. His Twitter following stands at a relatively modest 13,579 – fewer than many 2015 intake colleagues – and his Facebook page has a mere 3,708 likes. His YouTube channel has a paltry 33 subscribers and his last video had just three views. If Johnny wants to boost his following, selfies are probably a better approach…

CCHQ’s Battle Bus Guidance Revealed

battlebus

Where do the Tories stand on the election fraud scandal? They are bang to rights on failing to declare £38,000 of hotel bills for Tory activists, blaming an “administrative error”. The issue of transport – the fabled “battle buses” – is contested. There are three outcomes here. Are CCHQ right when they say they’ve done nothing wrong? Did they breach the rules on national and local spending? Or was there a conspiracy to hide spending from the official declarations?

Leaked emails reveal CCHQ told their local campaign teams that the cost of hotels and battle buses would be “accounted for out of central campaign spend”. It stressed transport within the seat was not included: “For legal reasons the Battlebus cannot ferry people around the seat”.

The arrangement had the “personal sponsorship” of Grant Shapps, was “signed off” by Lynton Crosby, Stephen Gilbert and Lord Feldman, and was “supported by Deborah Feldman’s Team in CCHQ“. That’s Lord Feldman’s sister.

The good news for the Tories is this shows they did see battle buses as part of the national campaign all along, and demonstrates they were taking steps to abide by spending laws. So they can argue there wasn’t a conspiracy to hide the cash. The bad news? If the cops find it should have gone down as local spend, the party chairman and his sister are implicated…

EU Paid €160 Million to Pro-Remain Groups

Osborne-and-Lagarde-008

Christine Lagarde is making yet another doom-mongering ‘major intervention’ at 10am, with that €400 million fraud trial still looming over her. The IMF chief will again warn against Brexit during a meeting with Osborne at the Treasury, a geo-political courtesy return favour to the Chancellor, who campaigned hard for her to get the job. Like pretty much every group Remain have wheeled out, the IMF has received funding from the European Commission. Pro-Remain groups which have made referendum interventions have received €160 million from the Commission in the last nine years:

PwC warned leaving would cause a “serious shock” – no kidding, they’re bankrolled by the Commission to the tune of €16 million. LSE say we’re better off Remaining – they certainly are having received €18 million. The WWF says EU membership “benefits our environment” – it benefits theirs by €46 million.

Remain have barely named a group supporting them which hasn’t received huge amounts from the Commission. He who pays the piper…

UPDATE: RSPB get in touch to stress they do not have a position on the referendum because neither side is campaigning on the environment.

Scandal-Hit Lavery’s Shredding Expenses Splurge

Readers will be aware that shadow minister Ian Lavery has been mired in a scandal over how he benefited from a miners’ benevolent fund – catch up here if not. The Labour union man has dodged questions on this for weeks and lost the support of many colleagues, who’ve been angered by the revelations involving a £250,000 loan, £60,000 of redundancy pay and £85,426 in additional redundancy costs. Guido is amused by another sum of money: the £283.50 Lavery recently claimed on expenses for services from Shred-It, a company which “provides the most secure and efficient confidential information destruction service in the industry.” If only he’d used them back in the day he wouldn’t have all this grief…

Electoral Commission Takes Tories to High Court

battlebus

The Electoral Commission is taking the Tories to the High Court to force them to disclose documents pertaining to the electoral expenses scandal:

“The Commission issued the Conservative and Unionist Party with two statutory notices requiring the provision of material relevant to its investigation. However, the Party has only provided limited disclosure of material in response to the first notice (issued on 18 February 2016) and no material in response to the second notice (issued on 23 March 2016). That follows the Commission granting extensions of time to comply… We are today asking the court to require the Party to fully disclose the documents and information we regard as necessary to effectively progress our investigation into the Party’s campaign spending returns.”

Revenge of the Clarke…

UPDATE: A Tory spokesman says the Electoral Commission have jumped the gun:

“We advised the Electoral Commission on 29th April that we would comply with their notices by 1pm today – and we will do so. There was no need for them to make this application to the High Court.”

Taxpayer-Funded Lloyds Loan to Remain

The new Electoral Commission release shows that Lloyds Bank, which is still in part state-owned, has given a £20,000 loan to the Remain campaign at a rate of 1%. Awkward…

Vote Leave are all over it, and David Owen notes BSE have also taken cash from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Citi as well.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Remain Spending Twice as Much as Leave, Thanks to Taxpayer

times red box EDITED

The Electoral Commission have released the first batch of pre-poll referendum campaign donations today:

Remain

  • Conservatives IN Ltd – £362,534
  • European Movement of the UK Ltd – £57,494
  • Michelle Ovens Ltd – £95,000
  • Scientists for EU Limited – £60,000
  • The IN Campaign Ltd (‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ – designated lead campaigner) – £6,883,684

Total: £7,458,712

Leave

  • GO Movement Ltd – £12,000
  • Grassroots Out Ltd – £2,039,925
  • Leave.EU Group Ltd – £3,200,000
  • The Bruges Group – £10,000
  • Trade Unionists Against The European Union – £22,000
  • Vote Leave Limited (designated lead campaigner) – £2,786,500
  • WAGTV Limited – £110,000

Total: £8,180,425

Of course they neglected to mention the extra £9 million the government spent on remain’s leaflets, or the £135,000 a week worth of ads, or the loan of the British museum etc etc. […]

+ READ MORE +

Named and Shamed: Full List of MPs Shagging Their Secretaries

This morning IPSA revealed MPs had sent £21 million of taxpayer cash to family members in the last five years. Guido names and shames the MPs who employ wives, husbands and children on the public payroll below…

MPs who currently employ their spouse/partner according to the Register of Members Interests:

  1. Nigel Adams employs his wife
  2. David Amess employs his wife
  3. Caroline Ansell employs her husband
  4. Richard Arkless employs his wife
  5. Adrian Bailey employs his wife
  6. Margaret Beckett employs her husband
  7. Henry Bellingham employs his wife
  8. Hilary Benn employs his wife
  9. Paul Beresford employs his wife
  10. Clive Betts employs his partner
  11. Bob Blackman employs his wife
  12. Peter Bone employs his wife
  13. Karen Bradley employs her husband
  14. Graham Brady employs his wife
  15. Julian Brazier employs his wife
  16. Alistair Burt employs his wife
  17. Liam Byrne employs his wife
  18. Gregory Campbell employs his wife
  19. Ronnie Campbell employs his wife
  20. Douglas Carswell employs his wife
  21. William Cash employs his wife
  22. Maria Caulfield employs her partner
  23. Christopher Chope employs his wife
  24. Alberto Costa employs his wife
  25. Stephen Crabb employs his wife
  26. David Crausby employs his wife
  27. Byron Davies employs his wife
  28. David Davies employs his wife
  29. Glyn Davies employs his wife
  30. Jeffrey Donaldson employs his wife
  31. Steve Double employs his wife
  32. Jackie Doyle-Price employs her partner
  33. Michael Dugher employs his wife
  34. Graham Evans employs his wife
  35. Michael Fallon employs his wife
  36. Caroline Flint employs her husband
  37. Paul Flynn employs his wife
  38. Yvonne Fovargue employs her husband
  39. Roger Gale employs his wife
  40. Barry Gardiner employs his wife
  41. Mark Garnier employs his wife
  42. Cheryl Gillan employs her husband
  43. John Glen employs his wife
  44. Robert Goodwill employs his wife
  45. Helen Grant employs her husband
  46. James Gray employs his wife
  47. Chris Grayling employs his wife
  48. Stephen Hammond employs his wife
  49. Simon Hart employs his wife
  50. Alan Haselhurst employs his wife
  51. John Hayes employs his wife
  52. Oliver Heald employs his wife
  53. John Healey employs his wife
  54. Simon Hoare employs his wife
  55. Sharon Hodgson employs her husband
  56. Kelvin Hopkins employs his wife
  57. George Howarth employs his wife
  58. Lindsay Hoyle employs his wife
  59. Dan Jarvis employs his wife
  60. Diana Johnson employs her partner
  61. Gareth Johnson employs his wife
  62. Gerald Jones employs his partner
  63. Helen Jones employs her husband
  64. George Kerevan employs his wife
  65. Greg Knight employs his wife
  66. Ian Lavery employs his wife
  67. Edward Leigh employs his wife
  68. Emma Lewell-Buck employs her husband
  69. Ian Liddell-Grainger employs his wife
  70. Tim Loughton employs his wife
  71. Ian Lucas employs his wife
  72. Angus MacNeil employs his wife
  73. John Mann employs his wife
  74. Karl McCartney employs his wife
  75. Patrick McLoughlin employs his wife
  76. Alan Meale employs his wife
  77. Johnny Mercer employs his wife
  78. Grahame Morris employs his wife
  79. James Morris employs his wife
  80. Sheryll Murray employs her partner
  81. Andrew Murrison employs his wife
  82. Brendan O’Hara employs his wife
  83. Neil Parish employs his wife
  84. Priti Patel employs her husband
  85. Owen Paterson employs his wife
  86. Teresa Pearce employs her partner
  87. Mike Penning employs his wife
  88. Jess Phillips employs her husband
  89. Stephen Pound employs his wife
  90. Yasmin Qureshi employs her husband
  91. Jonathan Reynolds employs his wife
  92. Laurence Robertson employs his wife
  93. Alec Shelbrooke employs his wife
  94. Dennis Skinner employs his partner
  95. Angela Smith employs her husband
  96. Henry Smith employs his wife
  97. John Stevenson employs his partner
  98. Bob Stewart employs his wife
  99. Gary Streeter employs his wife
  100. Julian Sturdy employs his wife
  101. Desmond Swayne employs his wife
  102. Hugo Swire employs his wife
  103. Robert Syms employs his wife
  104. Mark Tami employs his wife
  105. Michael Tomlinson employs his wife
  106. Derek Twigg employs his wife
  107. Valerie Vaz employs her husband
  108. Martin Vickers employs his wife
  109. Charles Walker employs his wife
  110. Ben Wallace employs his wife
  111. David Warburton employs his wife
  112. Iain Wright employs his wife

MPs who currently employ other family members:

  1. Ian Blackford employs his step-son
  2. Rehman Chishti employs his sister
  3. Thérèse Coffey employs her sister
  4. Alex Cunningham employs his son
  5. Nadine Dorries employs her daughter
  6. Jim Dowd employs his nephew
  7. Julie Elliott employs her son
  8. Pat Glass employs her niece
  9. Neil Gray employs his brother-in-law
  10. John Howell employs his daughter
  11. Simon Kirby employs his sister
  12. Paul Monaghan employs his brother
  13. Kate Osamor employs her son
  14. Albert Owen employs his son-in-law
  15. Dan Poulter employs his mother
  16. Graham Stringer employs his step-daughter
  17. Graham Stuart employs his sister
  18. Craid Whittaker employs his daughter
  19. Corri Wilson employs her son

MPs are doing to the taxpayer what they do to their secretaries…[…]

+ READ MORE +

MPs Pay Family Members £21 Million

snouts

+ 139 MPs’ family members employed on the public payroll +

+ 1 in 4 MPs have employed a relative +

+ Relatives’ salaries “significantly higher” than other employees +

+ Pay rises awarded “at twice the rate” +

IPSA releases its consultation on MPs’ expenses this morning – the most eye-catching revelation is that MPs pay family members more than other staff, and are more likely to give pay rises to family members.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Tory MPs’ Parliamentary Ski Week Freebie

skiiers blunt spelman copy

During the Tory turmoil of the March recess, journalists calling up MPs’ mobile phones were met with a chorus of foreign dial tones. Some of the backbenchers briefing hacks from ski slopes at least paid for their holidays themselves. Crispin Blunt, Phillip Lee, Tim Loughton, Antoinette Sandbach and Caroline Spelman however enjoyed £2,500 worth of free ski passes courtesy of the Swiss Parliament.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Miliband’s Museum Speech Swerved Spending Rules

LBC made a good point this morning – does David Miliband’s speech at the British Museum yesterday mean Britain Stronger in Europe flouted campaign spending rules? This is what the Museum, a public body, says:

“The British Museum has followed the guidance issued by Cabinet Office.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Disgraced Nat Pays Out Over “Holocaust” Smear

Readers will remember Natalie McGarry, the SNP MP who resigned the whip amid a police probe into her campaign’s financial irregularities. She’s the one who was questioned by Turkish special forces for recording the sound of bombs falling in Syria on her mobile.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Labour Leadership Rivals Rake in Huge Donations

The Corbynista line this morning is that Jezza is safe from a coup, several “hostile” MPs agree with Tom Watson that he should be “given time” and judged on the next set of local elections in 12 months. Knives are being put away yet potential challengers’ coffers are being filled…

It’s notable that Tristram Hunt has raked in £85,000 of donations from Blairite sources.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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