This is more a ‘pondering’ article mixing politics and football, than a serious one, but you never know…
I’ve just been reading an article in Politics Home where it is claimed that “No 10 [is] ‘deeply worried’ by police investigations into 2015 election spending”.
Evidently the Tories are worried because:
“Senior figures fear that the investigation outcome could void votes in a number of areas, triggering by-elections. Individuals in the party could also face criminal charges.”
“A police investigation into whether the party spent more on local campaigns than the legal limit is believed to be targeting MPs in six constituencies, although at one stage 24 areas were being investigated.”
So, even though up to 24 election campaigns in different parts of the country could be discovered to have results achieved by campaigning which ‘stretched the barriers’, only 6 of those will be targetted.
In fact it could be less as…
“Another police source said: ‘While there’s been a large number of investigations, it’s widely thought that they will make examples of one or two cases.'”
Therefore, it is likely that only 2 Tory MPs may lose their seats over this, thus leaving the Tories with a majority which may have been based on electoral fraud. And that is if the Tories actually lose those seats, because if by-elections are called, it appears that the Tories can stand again, so only their original candidates will be penalised, not the party.
Is this fair?
I don’t think so.
While reading the article, I was listening to football results on the telly and a thought occured to me:
There must be another way to deal with election fraud, so why not decide this via a similar system used by the FA?
(yes I know there are immediate problems here, but please bear with me… 🙂 )
Football teams going bankrupt or being found to have other financial discrepancies are sanctioned by having a number of points deducted from their total for a season or more. This has lead to relegation from one or even more leagues. Rangers are a good example, where it has taken them years to struggle back to the top simply because of having to climb through each league first.
So let’s consider this when deciding the outcome of proven electoral fraud.
Any candidate (winning or losing) who is found to have committed fraud over their campaign expenses returns will be penalised.
The penalty will depend upon the amount of the ‘discrepancy’, but in all cases it will mean the candidate moving down at least one place in the published results. And, like with football teams, it is the whole team that gets penalised. So here it will be the whole political party (or party in the constituency where this occurs).
So, for example, candidate A wins in Puddlebury on Sea North (or some such constituency…). Candidate A was standing on behalf of the local Conservative party.
In (we would hope) checks on campaign expenditure which follow immediately after the election, it is discovered that Candidate A and his/her team has overspent by a substantial amount, thus giving them an unfair advantage over all other candidates who are found not to have overspent.
In this case, Candidate A and his/her team (the local Conservative Party) will have a number of votes deducted from their total, but will also be ‘relegated’ from the election because of breaking the rules. The runner up candidate will automatically win and stand for the full term as MP for that constituency.
Those ‘deducted votes’ will be carried forward to the next election. Therefore, if, for example, Candidate A2 and team has 5,000 votes pre-deducted in the next election, these deductions will have to be passed before votes for the next Conservative Candidate count, so, if 4,000 votes are needed to win, the candidate will need to receive 4,000 plus 5,000 votes more than the candidate in second place to have won the election.
This would, of course, apply to all candidates and all elections, not just the Tories or particular elections.
I think it would certainly level the playing field and ensure that those thinking it doesn’t matter if ‘there are a few accounting discrepancies’ with election expenses are told that it does matter, and it matters very much.
Will this or a similar system ever be used?
I doubt it as I’m sure that those who wish to buck the system will find all sorts of reasons as to why it wouldn’t work.
But it was worth a ponder 🙂