The SKWAWKBOX analysed this morning a Conservative Home article based on interviews with key Tory figures that amounted to a confession regarding illegal electoral spending and declarations.
Just afterward, the Electoral Commission (EC) released its report into alleged Tory electoral fraud, announcing a £70,000 fine that it said would have been higher if it could have been. The report was generally damning – but contained the following astonishing statement:
The EC found the Tories guilt of failing to consider the risk that the ‘Battlebus’ would be used for campaigning for individual candidates – but claimed to have ‘found no evidence’ that they funded they campaign with that intent.
After months of investigation and with all its resources, the EC failed to find such evidence. But it wasn’t hard to find – the SKWAWKBOX had damning evidence of intent within a couple of days and with no resources except its readers.
The same Conservative Home article that contained the confession also contained clear evidence that showed the Tories not only funded the Battlebus with the ‘intention that it would promote or procure the electoral success of candidates‘ – they built an entire campaigning process around it, starting two full years before the General Election:
The ’40/40′ was shorthand for the Tory campaign to protect their 40 most vulnerable seats – and to attack the 40 most winnable marginals – and in early 2013, they came up with a new concept of a campaign that was centrally-run but, even then, explicitly for supporting local campaigns.
By the following year – still well before the election campaign began, the concept had evolved to explicitly include the logistics of getting campaigners to the local seats where they were most needed:
The Tories had a name for this logistics exercise – Super Saturday. And it was always about getting people to ‘target seats’ to support the campaign – by its very definition, it was for the purpose of ‘promoting or procuring the electoral success of candidates‘:
Still during 2014, the Tories were using buses specifically to ‘get the right people to the right place at the right time’, explicitly to campaign in target seats – and were funding this before they procured the Battlebuses to replace the hired buses they had been using for that purpose:
In other words, the very purpose for which the Battlebuses were procured was for the purpose you said you couldn’t find any evidence of – to get campaigners to target seats for no other purpose than to procure and promote the electoral success of candidates in those target seats.
So, Electoral Commission – would you like to reconsider your statement and amend your report?
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