British Tories ‘spending big’ to win next polls

British Tories ‘spending big’ to win next polls

Sun Dec 14, 2014 5:38PM GMT

Britain’s ruling conservatives are accused of trying to buy the next general elections by ignoring the Electoral Commission recommendations and securing a bigger increase for campaign spending.

Before this week’s official start to the run-up to the 2015 general elections, British media reports say the Tories have secured a 23% increase in spending. With the Conservatives having amassed a £78mn war chest over the past four years, they can now funnel huge amounts of cash into key seats, The Guardian reported.

This is while Prime Minister David Cameron has been accused of an unjustifiable bid to “buy the general election” as it emerged that ministers have quietly slipped through an unprecedented hike in the amount that parties can spend during the campaign.

Now Shahrar Ali, the deputy leader of the Green Party, has told Press TV’s UK Desk that “the conservatives have used a bit of a loophole here. There is primary legislation for election rules including expenditure and secondary legislation for the actual campaign limits. So, what they, I suppose very cleverly from their point of view did, is they tried to slip it under the radar. This increase in election expenses, just ahead of election, and I think probably they should have brought it to the parliament, and it should have been debated so close to election because it is a clear conflict of interest for the government of the day pushing ahead with those proposals.”

He also called for more oversight over the “extremely dangerous practice” and said: “The great danger here is the suspicion that politics becoming more about in an American way how much money you have to deluge the voters with your own propaganda. There will inevitably be quite a lot of that going on; but, the more you increase the amount that people can spend on elections, the more they favors parties with big business owners who have a direct interest in having the government one way in their favor.”

Meantime, under the new limits, the total amount the candidates of each political party can spend has increased from £26.5mn to £32.7mn. In March, the Electoral Commission recommended there should be no such increase in spending limits for candidates over the so-called “long campaign” period between 19 December and general election day on 7 May.

It suggested there should only be an increase of £2.9mn on spending during the “short campaign”, which starts 25 days before the election, to take account of inflation and some changes in the length of the election campaign.

At the time the commission dismissed the Conservative party’s submission that there should be a bigger rise because “new developments in campaigning technology are not making politics cheaper”. It has now emerged that the government went ahead in the summer and slipped through increases twice those recommended by the commission.

The Conservatives, who are paying the Australian strategist Lynton Crosby £500,000 to mastermind their campaign, are in a strong position to take advantage of their changes because the donations they receive vastly outstrip that of the other parties.

Since the last general election, the Tories have also received £6m from secretive unincorporated associations, such as dinner clubs, which do not need to declare the identities of their members.

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