It appears that the Conservative Party may have been just a little bit naughty about their election expenses for the 2015 UK General Election. According to Channel 4 news (is it the only decent news broadcaster in the UK these days?), large chunks of lolly were “accidentally” omitted from the spending returns of a large number of Tory candidates in marginal seats. The Tories’ excuse was that this was believed to be national spending, though it appears that much of the money doesn’t appear to have been included in their national return either, due to “administrative” errors. However, as we are talking of six figure sums involving large Union Jack bedecked battle buses and dozens of activists, you may need to be particularly inept to overlook them entirely.
Currently, around 45 (opinions vary about the number) Tory MPs’ election expenses are being investigated by around 30 police forces. Most appear to have asked for extra time to complete their investigations, though none (as far as I am aware) have given any indication of the length of time their investigations are likely to take, important because the longer it takes, the less chance there is of there being any real result.
In theory, the Electoral Commission could order a rerun of the 2015 election in the affected constituencies. That would almost certainly mean a change of government as it’s unlikely voters would be as kind to the Tories as they were in the original vote. However, the implications of a rerun are such that this seems a bit extreme for the Commission. For example, would it render the decisions taken by the (now) illegal Tory administration invalid? Or would the Labour party come to regret the number of times they abstained in crucial divisions on Social Security changes instead of living up to their status as official Opposition.
More likely is that the Commission would accept a Tory plea that the errors were simply mistakes and that there was no deliberate intention to defraud, resulting in slap on the wrist, a small(ish) fine and a promise to be better behaved little boys and girls in the future. That’s especially likely if you think about why the two main UK opposition parties are not really taking as much advantage of the situation as you’d expect and aren’t making that much fuss. Could it be because both Labour and the LibDems were more or less equally guilty, differing perhaps only on a matter of scale.
Perhaps they’re all just naughty little boys and girls.