The long campaign is well underway, meaning candidate spending is limited to £30,700 and MPs are looking for ways to bend the rules to keep costs down. John Woodcock, for example, has sent his constituents a letter backing a ‘non-partisan’ third-party charity which, coincidentally, he has also made a central focus of his campaign for re-election. Pre-paid Commons envelopes are not allowed to be used “in a way that can be construed as campaign expenditure”, despite Woodcock using the word “campaign” four times in his letter backing the ‘Save Our Hospital’ group. The taxpayer is picking up the bill.
He is also auctioning off tickets to tours of parliament to raise cash for the ‘charity’. As you can see from Woodcock’s website, Save Our Hospital is a key part of his re-election campaign, listed as one of his main six re-election campaign pledges, so it is hardly independent. Tory MP David Morris has written to Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson asking her to investigate. Where is the money really going?