Friday, 16 July 2010

Seven questions for Zac Goldsmith

Following the questions raised by Channel Four News about Zac Goldsmith's election expenses and his subsequent denial of having done anything wrong, I have the following questions which he will presumably be able to answer without a problem:

Campaign jackets.

1. If you are serious in only charging a portion of the cost of the stickers to your campaign expenses, presumably you have all the stickers carefully stored away and they are in a fit state to be re-used. If not, can you explain why the full cost of any which are missing or damaged has not been included in your expense returns?

2. What has happened to the jackets themselves? If they have not been charged to your campaign expenses, what has happened to them? If you gave them to campaign supporters, presumably these cannot have been constituents or that would have been treating. So did you charge the people you gave them to and can you produce receipts?

Undelivered leaflets.

3. You claim that you bought and paid for 62,000 campaign leaflets which were not delivered. How does this waste of paper fit with your green credentials?

4. What have you done with the undelivered leaflets? Can you prove that they were not delivered?

Posters.

5. You apportioned £700 of the cost of your campaign posters to your local council colleagues. How do you justify this apportionment given that your image and name appeared on the posters and not those of your council colleagues?

6. Of the remaining sum, you have included less than one seventh of the cost in your election expenses. Presumably this means that these posters will be able to be used for a further six elections. Can you produce all the posters in a fit state to be used again or justify why you have not included the full cost of damaged or missing posters in your expense returns?

Trikes.

7. On Channel Four News you said that you had not declared the cost of trikes that you used in your campaign. How do you justify this decision? Were these vehicles which already belonged to individual campaign supporters and did you declare the running costs or depreciation of the vehicles? Or were these bought by your campaign or constituency association, in which case how do you justify your decision not to declare any portion of their purchase cost in your expenses returns?

I make no judgment that Mr Goldsmith has broken the law in respect of his election expenses and will happily publish or link to any statements he makes which answer the questions he poses. But, given the desire of the public to move towards cleaner politics, it is surely right that he should be able to justify in detail his accounting practices rather than simply make claims about what other candidates might or might not do.

3 comments:

MTPT said...

Can we take it that you have never had any general election related expenses apportioned to your local council campaign, when the two took place at the same time?

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

What I found interesting was that (roughly speaking, I haven’t got the exact figures to hand) if 2,000 leaflets were printed, but only 1,000 were used (or at least when this was claimed), the cost declared was half of the cost of 2,000 leaflets. Cos 1,000 leaflets is half the cost of 2,000, right?

But anyone who has ever had a leaflet printed (or who knows anything about the printing trade, or has ever dealt with printers) knows that it doesn’t work like that. The major costs involved in getting printing jobs are fixed per job and have very little to do with the total print-run. Normally 2,000 leaflets (or 5,000, or 10,000) leaflets would cost only relativlely little more than 1,000.

So the “we only used half so we’re only declaring half the bill” is nonsense, and wrong. Even if they did only use half and bin the rest. Surely they should have to get an official – public – quote for the amount of leaflets used, and put that on the expenses. Even if it is only about 20 quid less than the cost for twice the amount.

You know what I’m getting at here? As otherwise one might want to artificially inflate print runs in advance in order to then halve / quarter / etc. the bill in order to save on expenses. Not that anyone would do that.

Karl-Marx-Straße said...
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