Chair, The Electoral Commission
Electoral Law allows for organisations which are not political parties to campaign during general elections in order to influence voters into supporting or opposing various policies. In effect, these so-called 'third parties' are often barely concealed campaigns for a particular party and the original intention of allowing such campaigns, though admirable, has been lost as they become merely an attack dog for one party or another.
I am particularly concerned about the influence that the trade union Unite will have at the forthcoming election. Whether one supports or opposes their political viewpoint, they clearly have the right to campaign on behalf of their members. However, as an organisation which is so inextricably intertwined with the Labour Party, having donated more than £11 million to the party in the past 3 years, organising phone banks for the party and with a large number of 'sponsored' Labour MPs, I believe that it would be misleading for voters at the forthcoming general election for Unite's 'third party' spending to be treated separately from that of the Labour Party itself.
I would therefore call on the Electoral Commission to require that any spending by Unite at this general election to be treated as spending by the Labour Party for the purposes of election law and accounting purposes. Where another 'third party' campaign organisation is also shown to be a front for a registered party I believe that the same should apply.
Transparency in election law is important for electors and I believe that treating Unite's spending in the way that I have suggested would be a significant step in the right direction.
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Launceston Central
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
An Open Letter to Jenny Watson
Jenny Watson is Chair of the Electoral Commission, the organisation which oversees the conduct of elections, including the general election, in the UK. Today I have sent her the following letter: