Guido’s highlighting of the police’s legal advice, declaring political party leafleting illegal, clearly wasn’t enough to stop eager campaigners putting their activists in harm’s way. As the LibDems, Greens and others continue breaking the current Covid rules ahead of the May elections, Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith has written to party leaders telling them to follow the rules:
“As you will be aware, in recent weeks there have been media reports about political campaigning activity during the national lockdown in England. I am writing to provide some advice to political parties to reflect the UK Government’s position.
Current national lockdown restrictions in England, say: “You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary”. The Government’s view is that these restrictions do not support door to door campaigning or leafleting by individual political party activists. It is widely accepted that voters can continue to get campaigning information remotely. In order to reduce transmission of covid-19 infection, door to door campaigning at this point in time is therefore not considered essential or necessary activity.”
The letter unequivocally clarifies that physical campaigning at the moment is illegal – not just against the spirit of the law. Will that stop MPs ignoring their own rules?
Read Smiths’ letter in full below:
Chloe Smith MP has told the Commons that it is still the government’s intention to go ahead with the May elections, though it’s under constant review. ICYMI: Local Elections Could be Delayed Until November…
Written parliamentary questions aren’t often the source of good political theatre, though recently Minister for the Constitution Chloe Smith cleverly rebuffed a question from Dan Carden on the government’s introduction of election voter ID. Carden asked what effect the introduction of voter ID will have on “the ability of (a) Black, (b) Asian and (c) minority ethnic people to vote.” Smith retorted by pointing out:
“Photo identification has been required in Northern Ireland since 2003, when introduced by the last Labour Government. Labour Ministers told Parliament: “The measures will tackle electoral abuse effectively without disadvantaging honest voters…. [ensuring that] no one is disfranchised because of them ”… If we believed that thousands of voters would not be able to vote because of this measure, we would not be introducing it at this time”. There has been no adverse effect on turnout or participation by such groups since then.
Chloe Smith also pointed out Labour’s stonking hypocrisy in their opposition to voter ID, while at the same time requiring identification from members to attend party meetings and to join:
“ID is already requested normally and reasonably in many areas of life, including by many constituency Labour parties, who require voter identification to vote in Labour Party selection meetings. The Labour Party’s NEC also mandates two forms of ID for any members joining an association which is in special measures.”
Guido reckons that’s game set and match to Chloe there…
Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith, will later today introduce the long-overdue Parliamentary Constituencies Bill to the Commons, which – with an 80 seat majority – will finally see the redrawing of constituency boundaries that have remained the same for a decade. As Guido first revealed in January, the Government will be keeping the number of MPs at 650 however, abandoning David Cameron’s plans to reduce the number to 600. Despite some evidence suggesting the Tories would have seen a 30 seat-larger majority in 2019 had the reforms already been in place, Smith is keen to emphasize this isn’t about furthering a political agenda…
Damian Green – hardly an MP on the ‘Borisite’ wing of Tories – has skewered the “fake outrage” of the Lobby in his question during an Urgent Question requested by the Labour Party into yesterday’s Lobby farce:
“Does my Honourable friend agree that what we’re seeing here is some fake outrage and a mass outbreak of snowflakery?”
In the Labour Party’s MP briefing for the Commons session, they included the false information David Frost is a Civil Service appointee, and it fell to Clive Efford to walk into the trap. Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith, reminded Labour of Guido’s earlier report that Frost is a SpAd
Guido doesn’t think this will put the argument to bed any time soon however…
Former Treasury minister Chloe Smith, hung out to dry by Osborne in that infamous Newsnight interview and then dumped by the Chancellor, gets her revenge. On Osborne and the Budget she says:
“I don’t think [PIP] was the right measure to include in the budget, that is what I will be saying in my speech tomorrow. Ultimately the Chancellor is responsible for the budget. The Treasury is responsible for trying to collect together all the savings on expenditure. I think it is sensible we are debating the balance of the savings and expenditure. I don’t think this is a good proposal and I will be speaking out against it.”
“I think he is an honourable man who has therefore had to make a decision about what was in his area of responsibility. As elected politicians in a democracy we all have to be confident that we have to justify what we are proposing to do with taxpayer’s money.”
She calls on the government to target protected universal benefits instead:
“I will be saying in the Commons instead we should be looking at universal benefits, in particular that we give well-off pensioners – a bus pass, a free TV licence and help with winter fuel – when they don’t need it. I think that is where we should look instead of this proposal on PIP.”
If Cameron was running for a third term Osborne would be out of a job by now…