Tag Archives: political parties elections and referendums act 2000

Say hello to OSKAR – Lib Dems’ Online Skills and Resources website

It is recognised that the Liberal Democrats offer their members the best and broadest range of conference training of all three main political parties. Training is delivered at Federal and Regional Conferences, through Winning Teams as well as at specific events organised by local parties across the country.

However, we know it is not always easy for Lib Dem busy members to attend training, and limited resources mean that trainers cannot always reach as many people as they would like within the party.

To extend the reach of our training offer, I have been working on sourcing, implementing and developing online training …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Paul Tyler writes… Party funding: dilemmas and delays

Since so many of us have fought elections against extremely well-funded opposition candidates, Liberal Democrats are naturally and rightly exercised by the matter of campaign finance. Though Labour made some modest progress with its Political Parties, Elections and Referendums (PPERA) Act, back in 2000, the Act’s focus was transparency, rather than regulation.

When I chaired the party’s policy group on Better Governance in 2007, we set out an objective that no donor should be able to buy influence in the political process, and no party should be able to buy elections. This was the approach we took in the cross-party talks …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

The Government’s farcical slowness over updating election imprint rules

Six years on from receiving a recommendation from the Electoral Commission that existing legal powers should be used to clarify how the rules regarding election imprints apply to internet campaigning, the Government has still failed to act. This is despite the Government acknowledging in its official response to the recommendation the “importance” of getting this right. But it has decided that due to it being a “fast-evolving” area doing nothing for six years is the right response.

Posted in News and Online politics | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

LabourList, meet the Electoral Commission; Electoral Commission meet LabourList

Who exactly is funding LabourList? That’s the question which is beginning to be asked in the wake of ‘Smeargate’, in which Gordon Brown’s chief spin-doctor, Damian McBride, conspired with the website’s founding editor Derek Draper to defame various Tory figures.

It’s a question of keen interest to us here at Lib Dem Voice. We’re an independent website run by a volunteer collective of seven party members, including one (departing) member of the party’s Cowley Street staff. Our running costs are – just about – covered through a combination of advertising revenue and those readers who are kind enough to donate to LDV.

Back in October, as we discussed inviting donations, I checked the site’s position with the Electoral Commission in order to ensure that our understanding of the law was still in line with the Commission’s:

In order to ensure that we do not run into any compliance issues either as our financial activities grow or as a general election nears, we would be grateful for guidance from the Electoral Commission:

1. Under what, if any, circumstances would donations to Liberal Democrat Voice be covered by the legislation regarding permissibility and declaration of donations?
2. Under what, if any, circumstances would our activity be regarded as campaign activity that would then be regulated either as third party activity or as part of the Liberal Democrats?
3. Are there any other issues which you wish to draw our attention to that are not covered by the previous questions?

The full reply I received from the Electoral Commission is printed at the foot of this article*, but here’s the crucial part:

Thank you for your email asking for some advice on whether or not Lib Dem Voice is covered by donation controls. From what you have said, I think that it is. This is because groups whose membership consists wholly or mainly of members of a particular registered party are ‘members associations’ under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA).

Which begs the question: does the Electoral Commission think that LabourList (an organisation mainly, if not totally, run by Labour Party members) should also be covered by these same donation controls?

Assuming the answer is yes, then we shouldn’t have long to wait to find out who the main backers are of LabourList – any donations over £5,000 in cash or in kind from the same source must be reported to the Electoral Commission within 30 days of LabourList accepting them. (In the case of several smaller donations, e.g. monthly provision of office or IT services in kind, then they become declarable when the total value in the year hits £5,000.)

Indeed, given LabourList has been going for more than 30 days, then any donations, such as initial donations of money or provision of IT services for free, should have been declared by now and one would expect them to have appeared on the Electoral Commission’s website already.

(The timescale for declaring donations to members associations is different from donations to parties. Parties have to declare their donations each quarter, and they are then published shortly afterwards by the Electoral Commission. Donations to members associations, whether cash or in kind, have to be declared and should then be published, on a much quicker timescale.)

I’ve submitted an inquiry to the Electoral Commission to confirm my understanding of the rules. Perhaps then we’ll find out who LabourList really has received largesse from?

In the interests of balance, I should add that I would assume ConservativeHome is also covered by the same Electoral Commission rules. It is a matter of public record that the site is owned by Stephan Shakespeare (though you have to search some to find this information in the About ConHome section of the site). I can, as yet, find no references to his presumably pretty hefty ongoing donations to ConservativeHome – including paying for two full-time members of staff – on the Electoral Commission’s website.

For the record, I should note that Lib Dem Voice has yet to receive a donation large enough to necessitate us to trouble the Electoral Commission. But there’s always a first time if you fancy putting our skills to the test. 🙂

* Full text of email from Electoral Commission follows:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Conservative Party faces investigation over controversial donations from Said family

The Electoral Commission is investigating tens of thousands of pounds the Conservative Party has received from the Said family, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Wafic Said was a key figure in the highly controversial Al-Yamamah arms deal between Saudi Arabia and the UK. Allegations of corruption surrounding the deal were being investigated by staff at Britain’s Serious Fraud Office – until they were ordered to drop the investigation because it was supposedly against the national interest. Tough on crime? Only when it suits.

Although the Liberal Democrats – and Norman Lamb in particular – have been vocal in their criticisms of …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Labour’s secret donor: what the law says

Here are the facts of the matter as we know them so far:

1. “A wealthy North East property developer has admitted being behind a series of large donations to the Labour Party. David Abrahams gave more than £400,000 to the party through “friends” Janet Kidd and Ray Ruddick because, he said, he did not want to “seek publicity” … He said he had “gifted funds to my friends and colleagues” so they could make donations on his behalf. ”

2. “Ray Ruddick, 55, who drives a Transit van and lives in an ex-council house, was registered as having given £196,850 …

Posted in News | 8 Comments
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