Friday, February 23, 2007

... like a kipper

Compare...

A UKIP donor, who has lived and worked in the UK all of his life, does not fill his Electoral Register form and the Electoral Commission decide that UKIP must repay (to the Treasury) the entirety of Alan Brown's donations for the year 2005.
In a letter sent to Bruce Lawson, the Ukip treasurer, the commission confirmed that it “will be proceeding to apply to court for the forfeiture of £363,697 in respect of 68 donations from Mr Bown made during the period December 2004 to January 2006”.

... and contrast...

The Lib Dems receive a donation of £2.4 million from a convicted fraudster based overseas, and the Electoral Commission considers that the party has no case to answer.
The Electoral Commission has previously made clear its view that it was reasonable for the Liberal Democrats - based on the information available to them at the time - to regard the donations they received from 5th Avenue Partners Ltd in 2005, totalling just over £2.4m, as permissible.

It remains the Commissions view that the Liberal Democrats acted in good faith at that time, and the Commission is not re-opening the question of whether the party or its officers failed to carry out sufficient checks into the permissibility of the donations.
...

It is not clear to the Commission that 5th Avenue Partners Ltd was carrying on business in the UK at the time the donations were made.

So, just to spell that out again: a clerical error regarding a British individual's electoral status (that UKIP could not possibly be expected to anticipate or, reasonably, even know about) results in the Electoral Commission deciding to claw back the money (which goes to the Treasury) and effectively bankrupt UKIP in the process.

But when the Lib Dems accept a massive sum from a donor, based overseas (and it is unclear whether the company was even carrying on business in Britain, i.e. it was just a shell), who is subsequently convicted of fraud, the Lib Dems "acted in good faith at that time".

Oh, yeah; that's really fair, isn't it? Um, I may be biased, but does anyone see any double standards here?

UKIP's statement is up at IndependenceHome.org.
UKIP Party Chairman John Whittaker said that the party is guilty of nothing more than "a simple clerical error which could have been easily rectified had it been known."

The Electoral Commission has taken the decision to apply for forfeiture of donations to the value of £363,697 from the UK Independence Party, saying that these donations were impermissible because the donor, Mr Alan Bown, was not on the Electoral Register between December 2004 and January 2006.

He was, however, on the register at his Kent address before this period and has also been on the register since January 2006. He was unaware that his name had been removed from the list during 2005. Mr Bown has been giving money to UKIP throughout this time with all of his donations properly reported.

Dr Whittaker said, "Mr Bown was entitled to be on the electoral register throughout the period in question, and has been a permanent resident and taxpayer in the UK all his working life. I don't believe the law was designed to catch out this sort of donor; it was intended to prevent dodgy overseas money being given to UK political parties.

"The UK Independence Party regrets this error. However, we point out that there was obviously no intent to breach or evade Section 54 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

"Had Mr Bown realised that his name had been removed from the electoral register, he could have completed the relevant form and immediately rendered himself a permissible donor.

"The decision by the Electoral Commission to confiscate this money based on nothing more than an honest mistake is astonishing."


Naturally, Iain Dale is over the moon and your humble Devil has responded by donating a ton to UKIP: you can donate something here, or at IndependenceHome.org, should you so desire. Or if you don't really desire but think that the Big Three have enough of a stranglehold on our political scene already and that bankrupting competitor parties is probably a bad thing for democracy.

10 comments:

james higham said...

This whole declaration of donations business is a total pile of faeces. I've read the arguments and they're facile and fatuous. Where the money comes from is of no consequence and buying honours is a time-honoured tradition. I hate politics of this dog-eat-dog variety.

purplepangolin said...

This sounds outrageous to me. When I first heard of it I hassumed that he was an overseas donor. Having read your post I am astonished.

Mr Eugenides said...

It seems extremely harsh.

Roger Thornhill said...

This behaviour reminds me of how Singapore's PAP operates - it uses the courts to fine the opposition into the dust.

Without the Liberal Dumoldtwat case it would still be an astonishingly bad call. Considering the LibDum ruling, IMO it is nothing short of an attack on the rule of law. A scandal.

Further proof, though, that raw nerves are being touched. The establishment is getting twitchy. For all we know the Electoral Commission is full of paid-up Euro-lickspittles.

p.s. Did you know the EU wants to make it illegal to operate an "unapproved" political party? The UKIP would certainly fall foul of their classification of "legal", which AFIACT means signing up to all things EU and the EU status quo and presumption of authority.

Rod said...

The Electoral Commission's Mission Statement is "To foster public confidence and participation in the democratic process in the UK."
So how the hell does virtually bankrupting a political party for a minor adminstrative error achieve this objective? Why not register your dissatisfaction as I have at info@electoralcommission.org.uk

The Nameless One said...

The double standard is both striking and concerning. From what I have read the Lib Dems took their loan partly because their leader at the time was a drunken publicity junkie who wanted a much larger general election campaign that his party could afford. This must be a new form of "good faith" that I haven't come across before...

Mark T said...

It all looks distinctly fishy to me

DocBud said...

I suggest people e-mail the Establishment Political Parties Protection Commission at:

info@electoralcommission.org.uk

and ask them if they work for the electorate or the big parties.

They will aim to respond in 20 days.

Colin Campbell said...

This is indeed exactly what the Singapore PAP do to make sure that smaller parties get nowhere. They use all aspects of the law to ban, discredit and bankrupt opposing views. It is very sad that these tactics are being used in the UK.

Paul H said...

A great piece, but...

"...the Electoral Commission decide that UKIP must repay (to the Treasury) the entirety of Alan Brown's donations for the year 2005."

"...the Electoral Commission deciding to claw back the money (which goes to the Treasury) and effectively bankrupt UKIP in the process."

Damn it, DK! Why so mealy-mouthed? Call a thing by its name! Repay? Claw back? This is plain theft! If the donor was ineligible, then clearly his donation should have been returned to him, NOT pocketed by the state. It is vital that UKIP kick up the biggest stink of all time about this --- otherwise, as one commentator over on Samizdata has pointed out,

most people's reaction will be that they "always thought there was something dodgy about that lot"

UKIP must really go mental about this.

...And thanks to Rod & Docbud for the EC's e-mail address. That's next on my to-do list...