A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Times implies SNP could be "treating" and "paying canvassers in kind"

Today's Sunday Times carries a rather pointless article written by a journalist who infiltrated Labour's Glasgow East campaign posing as a volunteer.

It could have been a description of the experience of volunteering on any campaign in any English-speaking democracy in the last 100 years, for any party: you go to a temporary office, they give you some leaflets and a blurred map, you go out and deliver them, you come back and if the Agent knows their stuff you get your arm twisted to do another round as well. Welcome to the glamorous world of the campaign trail!

What the journo has totally missed is an implication he himself has made of two possible election offences by the SNP.

He writes that SNP volunteers "are rewarded with free food and drink." That's quite a serious allegation to make during an election campaign.

The legal guidance Labour Party Agents get makes it quite clear that this is an area where you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law:

"The ‘treating’ of electors is a corrupt practice and you must be very careful that it is avoided.
A person shall be guilty of ‘treating’ if s/he, either before during or after an election, directly or indirectly provides any food, drink or entertainment, to influence that person to vote or refrain from voting at that election. Free food and drink should not be provided at public meetings or
meetings of supporters. A charge should be made for any food or drink provided to avoid any possibility of treating.

Agents should also take care that any provision of refreshments for election workers, which may be seen as ‘payment in kind’ are treated as such and could not be interpreted as ‘treating’. In the case of members canvassing the public on the phone or the doorstep, it would be illegal to pay them for this work. It is therefore important that provision of refreshments for these workers is an occasional expression of gratitude and that it is quite clear that they are not promised in advance as an inducement to do this work."

i.e. if the Sunday Times is correct in stating that SNP canvassers are "rewarded with free food and drink" then they may have broken the law prohibiting payment of canvassers (an "illegal practice") and, if the canvassers live in the constituency, broken the law prohibiting "treating" (i.e. bribery with food and drink) of electors (a "corrupt practice"). These are very serious offences, conviction of which can carry jail sentances, heavy fines and bans from holding public office.

Of course it is far more likely that the Sunday Times journalist has misunderstood, and the alleged vast army of SNP activists are not fed and watered on a regular basis by their campaign, and when and if they are, a careful effort is made to check that no one resident in the constituency benefits. I'd like to believe even the SNP is not as ignorant of election law as this particular Sunday Times journalist.

I do hope the Sunday Times will issue a clarification, or put as much effort into investigating their own allegation as they did into infiltrating the Labour campaign.

34 Comments:

Blogger Peter Black said...

Of course if they were just leafletting or carrying out clerical work then it would be legal provided the cost was declared on expenses.

10:15 pm, July 20, 2008

 
Blogger Dave Cole said...

If the Sunday Times has it wrong, does that mean they've libelled the SNP?

10:51 pm, July 20, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think if you look on the SNP's campaign blog's and Indygal's blog you'll see that the volunteers are asked to stump up money for food and drink and other expenses.

If you've had done that in the first place perhaps you wouldn't have wrote the article.

The Sunday Times journalist only had the impression of free food and drink cos the SNP have had thousands of activists in Glasgow East and that can buy a serious amount of grub.

11:31 pm, July 20, 2008

 
Anonymous Just Wonderin said...

one has to ask why the Sunday Times only chose (if they did) to infiltrate the Labour campaign. More importantly perhaps they could be asked to clarify this...

11:58 pm, July 20, 2008

 
Blogger Newmania said...

Bloody hell that really does have the stale drizzly odour of local Politics about it.
While many anti Labour votes will go to the SNP and should not be called votes for Independence any Unionist vote that goes to Labour is entirely unearned and not a vote for Labour .
Labour do not care about Britain , only losing their Scottish seats , and they more than anyone have undermined the Union. The only Party that cared was the Conservative Party and thats pretty much in the past after the experience of devolution

12:50 pm, July 21, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly here in South Wales we have had rather crud attempts by the Badger B*****s (prop R Davies) to acuse Labour of doing this.

This included 1 accusation that the MP had entertained members with Tea & Milk paid for out of his office funds.

Needless to say it went pearshaped on them.

GW

3:15 pm, July 21, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gravy train guidelines are quite specific ...

"The legal guidance Labour Party Agents get makes it quite clear that this is an area where you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law: "The ‘treating’ of electors is a corrupt practice and you must be very careful that it is avoided."

However once in power the gloves were off and it was quite a different kettle of fish. What about the "treating" Blair doled out to his friends ....

3:59 pm, July 21, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Newsmania,

After so many years of Tory misrule there was no appetite in Scotland for the status quo; I should know I'm scottish.

If we had no devolution the likely effect would have been an increase in support for independence.

I share your dislike for scottish nationalism but to suggest devolution was avoidable is pure fallacy.

Though not the topic of discussion here I was wondering what people think of scottish MPs. Is it not time for us to suggest we scrap the Westminster seats (although we'd have to say ta ta to most of the cabinet) and instead allow sitting MSPs the right to sit in Westminster to vote on national issues?

4:05 pm, July 21, 2008

 
Blogger Newmania said...

I do not especially dislike Scottish Nationalism brother Gopaul and while you may be right that Europeans states are tending to break into constituent ethnic parts it is pretty much an impossibility that independence could be any stronger than it has become.200 Tory MPs rebelled on the bill , the last true stand for the Union misguided or not
Devolution was an attempt to buy off independence with increased autonomy no reduction in UK voting rights . It has failed and it is inconceivable that an incoming Conservative administration will continue to allow 69 ( seats ) currently , to be imported from semi detached countries into Westminster with full voting rights .
I suggest cutting the numbers in half as a simple imperfect answer which avoids a lot of pitfalls associated with Parliaments , voting rights and so on.

4:33 pm, July 21, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Newsmania, you can knock me down with a feather! I thought as a Tory you would respect the union more than that.

You're right about the increased support for the SNP, but whether that can be turned into real support for independence is unclear.

What is crucial is if Cameron wins the next GE.

Salmond is no light weight. He is pretty much the King at Hollyrood. He stands head and shoulders over any other MSP. The nearest unionist party who has a charismatic leader near enough to match him is your own Annabelle Goldie, but because your lot are so reviled in Scotland she really is no threat to him.
Nationally it is different of course. If as expected Salmond hosts this referendum while your lot are riding high in the polls he might get enough frightened Scots to vote his way.
So if we want to save the union, it is really up to the Labour Party, both national and Scottish. If Labour ditches the New Labour Project and starts acting like a reasonable moderate socialist (if you like social democratic) party we might stand a chance against Salmond, after all his policies have been heavily borrowed from us in the past. This might also save our necks in traditionally strong labour seats and hopefully preserve our status as one of the two biggest parties in the country (especially if Rich's prediction of the Labour Party becoming the 3rd party comes to fruition).
Scottish Labour needs a charismatic articulate leader (in the vein of George Galloway for example- whatever you think of him he is very eloquent and charismatic as his dressing down of the US Senate shows), alas we have no one in our ranks that can fulfil the role.

5:50 pm, July 21, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the legal position on giving lunch to leafletters who (as is often the case in parliamentary by-elections) have come in from outside the seat, and so are not voters?

6:44 pm, July 21, 2008

 
Anonymous Rich said...

I'm more concerned about the governments plan to force people to work for benefits.

1. What about the people currently being paid to do this work?

2. What about the shrinking jobs market how will you find the work.

3. Goes completely against a system that is relentlessly cutting labor costs, driving down wages and conditions, employing fewer and fewer people on lower wages. Just does not add up.

9:25 pm, July 21, 2008

 
Blogger ptop said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:23 am, July 22, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember that fantastic Lib Dem training manual for campaigners which suggested that you could get loads of local kids to help deliver your leaflets by offering them sweets? It even had a Brass Eye style name like Daisy Chasing or somesuch.

11:16 am, July 22, 2008

 
Anonymous angus mcnasty said...

Brother Gopaul, there was a report on the BBC this morning saying Scottish banknotes were not being accepted in many shops and restaurants in England.

You should tell you friend Mr Salmond to pipe down a bit. A lot of people here in London resent the ungrateful attitude of the Scottish Nazi Party and their supporters.

Just remember how much we subsidise you, Brother Gopaul. Scottish independence would be a disaster for Scotland.

2:51 pm, July 22, 2008

 
Blogger Praguetory said...

Ooh. How I wish I'd taken the pictures of the Labour candidates handing food out outside the polling station in May.

In the context of the other abuses of the democratic process institutionalised by Labour we felt this was a minor matter, but if you're going to get on your high horse about a few sarnies provided to leafleters that makes me feel rather differently about these matters.

3:21 pm, July 22, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Angus (aka Newsmania), you need to re read what I said about Scottish nationalism, as you look and sound like a complete tit.

With regards to Scotland being subsidised by English taxpayers, when Mrs Thatcher's monetary policy was bankrupting the nation it was oil from the North Sea that kept the country afloat while she butchered our (UK) coal and steel industry. Our most productive oil felids are in what would be considered Scottish waters.
How much is a barrel of oil now selling for Newsmania? Scotland has more than paid her way thank you very much.
That said the idea of Scotland going it alone leaving the rest of the country in your party's hands for perpetuity is too nightmarish to contemplate. This is a small island with a common language. The majority of Scots are state employees. The shipyards that will make our new aircraft carriers have been given a MoD contract to supply the Royal Navy. A divorce of Scotland and England will be disastrous for Scotland. If it were not for the poles coming to Scotland we along with Bagladesh would be the only countries in the world with a falling population. There are enough countries in the world without us having to add more to the mix.

4:18 pm, July 22, 2008

 
Anonymous angus mcnasty said...

Brother Gopaul doth protest too much. Methinks he's a closet nat, hence his ludicrous assertions that Scotland subsidises England, and his pathetic belittling of Mrs Thatcher's record.

She won one, two, three elections, Brother Gopaul, that's three more than Old Labour, ie. unelectable Labour - the party you pine to see rise from the dead - will ever win.

Note also that Blair, Brown and Cameron all hail her reforms and seek to emulate her.

Still, never let the facts get in the way of a good rant, eh, Brother Gopaul?

If your intention was to wind up the English so we down here say "goodbye and good riddance", you've succeeded.

Independence be a disaster for Scotland but great news for England.

Btw, I am not newsmedia. He's not the only one who thinks you're a laughing stock.

5:16 pm, July 22, 2008

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

If the ST piece was pointless what does that make this Luke? Worrying about tea and jaffa cakes when such campaigns typically run thousands over budget is on the anal side even for your good self.

Blogger Kezia was among those who were involved with this infiltrator and by her account he is a dissembling bastard.

5:56 pm, July 22, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke is just laying down the excuses ready for Thursday evening! When the SNP win the 3rd safest seat in Scotland from Labour he will be able to say it was the bap rolls that paid for the votes! He could be right! Considering the way food prices are going under the leadership of Gordie and his croonies then the poor people in Glasgow East may do anything to get a good feed.

Nice to see Luke isn't wasting time on all the important issues that really affect the voters of Glasgow East.

5:51 am, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Oh Newsmania (OK, Angus if you insist) you started so well! I’ve never been called a coelacanth by anyone before (very funny, I laughed out loud, genius!!!!). When saw that I thought there is a bloke with a different opinion I would like to engage him in political debate. But what a letdown you have become! You never read properly what I say and make wild (and often incorrect) assumptions on what my opinion. Take a case in point; I constantly disagree with the Thatcher-Lite leadership on issues, yet you seem to be under the illusion I fully support and endorse their position. The country is a mess because Blair/Brown have continued with her reforms.
Face it she was an awful PM. You may dispute the fact oil from our North Sea fields helped Mrs T finance 3 million unemployed she created, she did wreck our industries and help damage our society. Leave aside her domestic policy; her foreign policy agenda was also dodgy. You’re right to point to figures on left supporting some rather nasty regimes, but your party is hardly innocent. I may be only 29 but I remember Mrs Thatcher and her cadre saying Mandela was a dangerous terrorist and supported the apartheid regime; some Tory activists used to wear badges saying “Hang Nelson Mandela” on their lapels. Her support for General Pinochet is particular piquant.
Why do you insist on using aliases? I really don’t understand it. If you have an opinion voice it with your own name don’t hide behind false names and anonymous posts. And why lower yourself with rather juvenile insults? It is really beneath you. I would earnestly like to engage with you in serious debate to prove to me you have the mental acumen I thought you had when we first clashed.

11:30 am, July 23, 2008

 
Anonymous angus mcnasty said...

You’re right to point to figures on left supporting some rather nasty regimes

Just some lefties supporting "nasty" regimes?

You alone support Saddam, the Taleban, Milosevic, Karadzic, Mugabe, Chavez, Castro etc. etc. and aro on record as saying so.

Regimes which make apartheid South Africa look great.

The country is a mess because Blair/Brown have continued with her reforms.

Face it she was an awful PM.


Brother Gopaul, your contempt for democracy knows no bounds.

How many elections did Mrs Thatcher and Mr Blair win?

And how many did/will old Labour (1977-94 and 2010 onwards) win?

Who's the real failure?

You need to lie down in a darkened room and smoke some weed.

Maybe then you'll see the light!

11:52 am, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Newmania,

"Just some lefties supporting "nasty" regimes?

You alone support Saddam, the Taleban, Milosevic, Karadzic, Mugabe, Chavez, Castro etc. etc. and aro on record as saying so."

Do I? Evidence, dear boy.

Whilst I am against the war in Afghanistan and Iraq I have never supported the regimes there. I have called for Mugabe to go and I have critized the Castro regime.
How many times has Chavez been re-elected?

With regards to South Africa, have you seen the film "Goodbye Bafana"?
If you have not seen it you really should, it is excellent, and if you have than shame on you for your statement on the apartheid regime.

Yes Mrs T won 3 elections, but she still was god awful, sorry if that upsets you.

I gave you the chance to show what you're made of, sadly it’s all hot air, what a shame I had such high hopes for you.

1:08 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Oh I forgot to mention the Serbian butchers, yeah I despise them too.

1:09 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Anonymous angus mcnasty said...

I have never supported the regimes there

Yet you campaigned vigorously to keep them in power, did you not?

Oh I forgot to mention the Serbian butchers, yeah I despise them too.

Though you opposed the Kosovo campaign, n'est ce pas?

So you oppose these regimes, but believe they should remain in power. And you believe the great men who removed these vile dictators are war criminals and mass murderers?

You're a sick man Brother Gopaul.

sadly it’s all hot air

A perfect description of your "opposition" to the aforementioned deictators. Weasel words but no action.

Yes Mrs T won 3 elections

At last, you've acknowledged the truth. This is the first step. I'm pleased.

shame on you for your statement on the apartheid regime

Brother Gopaul, the real shame should be cast upon you for your supportive words about Robert Mugabe.

July 3 2008 (4:17pm):

"Stephen" says:- Robert Mugabe is a freedom fighter and an anti-imperialist hero.

Brother Gopaul replies:- Stephen, I agree with the sentiments of what you said. Mugabe successfully increased the number of universities in his country thereby increasing his country's literacy rate. He also improved and increased the country's hospitals. He helped the ANC in it's fight against the aparteid government (as did Castro).

Support for Mugabe and Castro.

Do the words murder, rape, torture, vote-rigging and starvation mean nothing to you?

1:33 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:11 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:14 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:18 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:19 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Well Newsmania, do you fashion your reporting in the style of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's book 1984? Or maybe its the little book of journalism from Fox News?

With regards to Zimbabwe you only copy and pasted half of what I actually said, so for the record,

I said,

"Stephen, I agree with the sentiments of what you said. Mugabe successfully increased the number of universities in his country thereby increasing his country's literacy rate. He also improved and increased the country's hospitals. He helped the ANC in it's fight against the aparteid (should read apartHeid- sorry) government (as did Castro).
----you cut this out----------
In the Lancaster agreement, we were supposed to compensate the white farmers for the land that was to be redistributed. Also the terms stated that these farmers were to take senior black ground men as apprentices to ease transition. Both of these things did not occur, he ended up giving the veterans excessive reparations and forced white famers out of their farms leaving inexperienced black managers to run the show. This helped contribute to the food problem. His stubborn refusal to take an IMF loan (as it would require a selloff of state assets) contributed to the inflation problem. I can't blame him for not trusting the IMF, I don't, but the compensation amounts were far too generous, added to the extensive government run programmes there was no cash left in the kitty.
(This is the bit you should read)
That said he has grossly abused his people, the country and the position. Beating up children, women and members of the opposition is truly repugnant which is why I agree he needs to go...NOW!"

Do you see that last statement or can you not read?

As for Cuba I have stated on this blog in February (when Castro left)this year I despise communist regimes, and am for free speech, look it up if you don't believe me.

The reason I take this stand is the thought of a government which I cannot rid myself of imposing upon me policies I disagree with, i.e. Mrs T for infinity- oh my God!!!!!! No thanks, long live democracy.

You said

"I have never supported the regimes there

Yet you campaigned vigorously to keep them in power, did you not?"

Nope, not me.


You said,

"Oh I forgot to mention the Serbian butchers, yeah I despise them too.

Though you opposed the Kosovo campaign, n'est ce pas?"

I've never said anything of the sort, evidence dear boy, although your alter ego, Stephen, has said as much on a previous thread- you don't know if you’re coming or going do you?

As for Mrs Thatcher winning three elections, I have never stated the contrary, what’s your point? I put it to thee sir it is you who lives in a fantasy world not I.

Since we are talking about elections do you know how many elections Mr Chavez has won?

Sorry, this was really your last chance for me to take you seriously. I know there are some smart Tories around, maybe Ken Clarke, David Davis or maybe your own leader who are sensible and typical of the conservative party but to put it bluntly old cock, you simply can't cut the mustard.

You should leave the crease; you've just been bowled.

5:03 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Anonymous angus mcnasty said...

My dear, demented, Brother Gopaul.

Where does one begin?

Saddam/Taleban/Milosevic: Yet you campaigned vigorously to keep them in power, did you not?

Nope, not me

Did you oppose the removal of these regimes?

Yes, you did.

Did you go on marches to oppose their removal?

Yes, you did.

Do you describe Tony Blair and George Bush, the men who removed the Taleban and Saddam - regimes you claim to oppose - mass murderers and war criminals?

Yes, you do.

Balkans: You opposed the Kosovo campaign, n'est ce pas?

I've never said anything of the sort

So you supported the Kosovo campaign?

In spite of everyone else on the far-Left, everyone from Galloway to Salmond to McDonnell to Corbyn to Abbott opposing it?

Prepare for the brothers to denouce you!

This truly is remarkable; a Leftie with some backbone, doing the right thing! Wonders will never cease...

Since we are talking about elections do you know how many elections Mr Chavez has won?

Please tell me, o great one!

Tell me how many he's "won", and tell me also the response of yourself and the far-Left if the Chavez model of "democracy" were to be imposed on Britain.

As for Cuba I have stated on this blog in February (when Castro left)this year I despise communist regimes

Good heavens, you really are unique! One shudders to think what your fellow Old Lab Commie far-Lefties will make of your pronouncements.

to put it bluntly old cock, you simply can't cut the mustard

My cock may be old, but it's bigger than yours. So there.

5:24 pm, July 23, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Newsmania, your delusion knows no bounds.

If I say some random things about you does that make it fact?

Ok I'll have a go.

You are a cannibal who abuses children and have been arrested for defecating in your neighbour's bird bath dressed as a chicken, don't even deny it, your Nazi brethren in the BNP lodge you frequent say as much.

For the record I have never been on any marches, although I was supposed to be on one against tuition fees (I was one of the lucky people who got a free education and wanted others like me to have the same opportunity) but I overslept.

Hugo Chavez:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Ch%C3%A1vez

If the BBC and other media outlets espoused the removal of Mrs Thatcher and actively petioned individuals to over throw her I think you would think differently. And before you ask I would be on the side of the democratically elected PM (I've made an oath to serve the Crown- Naval Reservist).

You said

"So you supported the Kosovo campaign?

In spite of everyone else on the far-Left, everyone from Galloway to Salmond to McDonnell to Corbyn to Abbott opposing it?"

Yes I can say that, mind you they were not the only ones saying it; didn’t Malcolm Rifkind, Norman Lamont, Simon Heffer and Peter Hitchens believe the war was illegal? What will the old boys at the club say?

You also said

"You need to lie down in a darkened room and smoke some weed.

Maybe then you'll see the light!"

My dear fellow I have never taken drugs, although I do like a pint of Guiness.

As the size of your manhood (probably dangling from your forehead), given your other inaccuracies (plus your rather odd ranting) I can only deduce you lacking in that department.

9:46 am, July 24, 2008

 
Anonymous angus mcnasty said...

Ah, Brother Gopaul, it didn't take long for the personal abuse to start; so typical of the far-Left, unable to engage in reasoned debate.

Still no answer on Saddam and the Taleban? The regimes whose removal you opposed?

Still believe Tony Blair and George Bush - the men who toppled the above regimes - to be war criminals and mass murderers?

Shocking.

And no condemnation for the opponents of the Kosovo campaign, nor praise for Tony Blair?

Sir, you are an ungrateful little shit who has no moral compass, no comprehension of right and wrong and no respect for democracy.

Brother Gopaul, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

11:39 am, July 24, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Newsmania,
Waging a war of aggression is a crime under the customary international law.
This problematic definition of a war of aggression is made easier by the fact that purported wars of aggression are usually accompanied by other crimes against the treaty law, or the customary international law, such as torture, crimes against the laws and customs of war and crimes against humanity.

Wars without international legality (e.g. not out of self-defence, not sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, and not sanctioned by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations) can be considered wars of aggression.

I'm sorry to report to you Messers Blair and Bush Jnr fit the bill.

11:41 am, July 24, 2008

 

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