To Archive List PageThe British electoral system is notorious for its endemic unfairness, starting with the Boundaries Commission, a quango noted for its wilful failure to tackle the Labour Party's unfair advantage in terms of the number of votes needed to put a candidate into parliament.
   Not many people know that the Electoral Commission is also up to no good, quietly raising Brownian Stealth Taxes by imposing penalties on Independent candidates for imaginary crimes from which the main parties are exempt.

This is one candidate's experience from the 2010 general election:

PRESS STATEMENT 21st Sept. 2010
re ELECTION COMMISSION'S alleged "EXTORTION RACKET"
Issued by Brendan Murphy, Independent Parliamentary Candidate 2010.

THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION IS DEMANDING £500 FROM A FORMER INDEPENDENT PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE BECAUSE HE WAS JUST SEVEN HOURS LATE IN RETURNING A "NIL RETURN" TO THE COMMISSION, described by the candidate as an EXTORTION RACKET!

The candidate, Brendan Murphy who stood as an Independent for Macclesfield in this year's general election, describes the Commission's demand as " a virtual extortion racket. It obviously emanates from a pen pusher's paradise with nothing better to do than read blank forms."

He explains: "To stand as a Macclesfield Independent, I had to pay £150 to register the name with the Electoral Commission. Immediately after the election, I delivered the statutory statement of my election expenses to the Returning Officer. I had some donations from well-wishers but the bulk of the cost came from own pocket.

"However, on August 4th, the Electoral Commission demanded that an additional "NIL RETURN" form must be completed and sent to the Commission by the following day, August 5th. The form was duly completed with "nil" in every box and e-mailed at 7am on August 6th - 7 hours after the Commission deadline." (copies of email exchange attached)

"Apparently, this 'nil return' was required because I had not run a campaign prior to the calling of the election. It seems a wasteful duplication of the returns already made to the Returning Ofiicer.

"The Commission has now imposed a £500 "fine" and given me 10 working days to pay. It did say I could appeal but when I tried to do that, I was told the adjudicator was on holiday.

"I call it "virtual extortion" because there is no mention of NIL RETURNS in the Commission's official guide for candidates and their agents. The Commission does not prosecute the 'mainsteam parties' for similar breaches of the rules. It deliberately discriminate against "independents and protest groups."

End

Email correspondence attached
See also: Official Guide for Candidates (page 83 refers to election returns):
http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/
0006/83337/UKPGE-C-and-A-Final-web.pdf [519.3 Kb]

p.s. The Commission announced on 20th Sept that the Conservative Party had unlawfully accepted political donations. Instead of fining the Party for breach of the rules the Commission said: "The party has agreed to forfeit the donations and therefore legal action in not necessary".


COPIES OF EMAIL EXCHANGE re THE 'NIL'RETURN"
NOTE; Amanda Grandison acted as Treasurer for my campaign [B.P.M.]


From: John Franks <jfranks@electoralcommission.org.uk>
Sent: Wed, 4 August, 2010 18:19:30
Subject: Campaign Expenditure Return for the May 2010 General Election

Dear Treasurer/Campaigns Officer
As a party that stood candidates at the UK Parliamentary general election in May 2010, you should have submitted a return of party campaign expenditure to us. The deadline for submitting this return to us is Thursday 5 August 2010, if your total expenditure was £250,000 or less. To date we have not received your party return. This is your final reminder and you should be aware that the party may be fined for late submission.
If all expenditure was reported in the candidates' expenses return, then you should submit a nil party campaign expenditure return. If you did not contest the election, you do not need to submit a return but please let us know.
If your expenditure was greater than £250,000, you must submit an audited return by 5 November 2010.
A copy of the return is attached.
John Franks
Enforcement Team Manager


From: Amanda Grandison
Sent: 04 August 2010 21:17
To: John Franks
Subject: RE: Campaign Expenditure Return for the May 2010 General Election

Dear Mr Franks
Thank you for your email - please could you amend your records to reflect my email address as I am the treasurer of The Macclesfield Independent Party - thank you.
I completed expenses returns and submitted the documentation to Cheshire East Council in May.
Am I supposed to complete this return as well?
Thank you for your help
With kind regards
Amanda Grandisonv


From: John Franks <jfranks@electoralcommission.org.uk>
Sent: 05 August 2010 10:01
To: Amanda Grandison
Subject: RE: Campaign Expenditure Return for the May 2010 General Election

Dear Amanda Grandison
Yes, you need to complete the return for the amount that the party spent in addition to the candidate. However, as I assume that all of the expenditure was recorded in the return to Cheshire East Council, then what you need to send us is a NIL return for the party. Please do so today, as today is the statutory deadline. You may do so by fax or by e-mail. Please call me if you need further guidance. Yours sincerely
John Franks

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