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Fri Aug 18, 2017, 09:34 AM

MP Swinson under fire over 'vanishing' election costs

Jo Swinson, the deputy UK leader of the Liberal Democrats, is facing “serious questions” over her election expenses after thousands of pounds were left off her official declaration.

The East Dunbartonshire MP claimed her spending scraped in £210 below the legal limit in the party’s top Scottish target - but only after almost £7000 of costs were disregarded.

Despite the seat’s importance to the LibDems, the former minister said £2700 of leaflets and other material bought by the party went undelivered and so didn’t count toward her total.

A further £4,040 of costs were omitted on the basis it was “national” spending promoting the LibDems in general, rather than Ms Swinson as the local candidate.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15477703.MP_Swinson_under_fire_over___39_vanishing__39__election_costs/?ref=mrb&lp=19


Two aspects to this story: the (as far as I know unprecedented) idea that candidates can discount election spending if it's wasted (undelivered leaflets), and the conflating of national versus local spending (so familiar from the investigations of the Tory battlebus debacle after the previous general election).

And Swinson's not the only one, in Scotland alone, being investigated:

Christine Jardine: Second LibDem MP in row over 'vanishing' election expenses

...

Christine Jardine, who gained Edinburgh West in one of the toughest contests in the country, disregarded thousands of pounds of costs on her official candidate declaration.

Her party also sent local voters personalised mail which was not accounted for in her filing.

Despite the LibDems’ saturation campaign in Edinburgh West, with households inundated with leaflets, Ms Jardine claimed she ultimately spent less than her SNP rival.

This relied on her saying a third of her bill for election material was “national” spending, on the grounds it promoted the LibDems in general, rather than her as the local candidate.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15480552.Second_LibDem_MP_in_row_over___39_vanishing__39__election_expenses/

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Reply MP Swinson under fire over 'vanishing' election costs (Original post)
Denzil_DC Aug 2017 OP
Denzil_DC Aug 2017 #1

Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Sat Aug 19, 2017, 09:20 PM

1. More from the Glasgow Herald on Lib Dem accounting shenanigans in other seats.

Tom Gordon: The problems with the LibDems' election spending

It’s tough being special. Smart kids get bullied, peacocks attracts crows, and the Liberal Democrats are the dew-eyed victims of baseless smears. That, at least, is how how the party and Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine have been defending themselves after a Herald investigation into general election spending. A quick disclaimer. I’ve known Ms Jardine since she tutored me in journalism 20 years ago, and I’ve chatted amicably with her at LibDem conferences ever since. I like her. But the evidence is what it is.

Checking official candidate returns is part of newspaper routine after elections. I’ve spent many a ham-hardening hour in council offices sifting invoices and punching a calculator in search of the newsworthy. Sometimes it’s quirky, like the MP who hired an ice cream van to campaign in, and sometimes it’s prosaic, like who spent what where. Parties pretend they fight for every seat, but by their budgets shall ye know them, and the returns tell all.

After June’s election, it was the LibDems’ specialness that stood out. The party seemed to have worked a kind of political alchemy, spending thousands on leaflets that somehow didn’t count against the local limits imposed to ensure a fair fight. The formula was to call large chunks of the spending “national”. Only local spending is deemed to have promoted the candidate. National spending, which promotes the party in general, is accounted for separately.

... In North East Fife, LibDem Elizabeth Riches was £432 under the spending limit - after disregarding £2000 of costs as national. She came just two votes behind the SNP winner. In Caithness, MP Jamie Stone said £2200 of costs were national, although he was well short of the spending cap. And in Edinburgh West, scene of one of the nastiest fights of the election, Ms Jardine stayed £1680 under the limit after assigning £3000 of costs to the national effort, rather than the local onslaught.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/15483254.Tom_Gordon__The_problems_with_the_LibDems__election_spending

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