Can you make this election arithmetic add up?

Can you make this election arithmetic add up?

Can you make this election arithmetic add up?

                                                    

Yesterday’s blog post headlined Frank Field’s election campaign spent £254.40 on balloon gas but what else was money spent on? contained a donations page (which is below).

Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 19
Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 19

As you can see above, Wirral Council has removed the names and addresses of the individual donors who donated £100 and £250 to Frank Field’s election campaign.

However the legislation, s.89(1A) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 only allows them to remove addresses of individual donors to candidate’s election campaigns, not the names of individual donors too!

I have e-mailed Wirral Council requesting the names of the donors who donated £100 and £250, which shouldn’t have been blacked out when I inspected the return.

There’s also something declared in the election expenses for Frank Field’s campaign that from a technical legal perspective shouldn’t have been included as election expenses. To stand as a General Election candidate you require a £500 deposit which is refunded if you get 5% of the vote.

Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 13
Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 13
Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 33
Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 33

Obviously Frank Field got more than 5% and the deposit would have been refunded. However section 95ZA subsection 2 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 states

“(2)No election expenses are to be regarded as incurred by virtue of subsection (1) above or section 90C below in respect of any matter specified in Part 2 of Schedule 4A.”

Part 2 (General Exclusions) of Schedule 4A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 states:

7 The payment of any deposit required by rule 9 of Schedule 1 to this Act.

Rules 9 of Schedule 1 relates to the £500 deposit for parliamentary elections and is below for reference.

Deposit

9(1) A person shall not be validly nominated unless the sum of £500 is deposited by him or on his behalf with the returning officer at the place and during the time for delivery of nomination papers.

(2) The deposit may be made either—

(a) by the deposit of any legal tender, or

(b) by means of a banker’s draft, or

(c) with the returning officer’s consent, in any other manner (including by means of a debit or credit card or the electronic transfer of funds) .

but the returning officer may refuse to accept a deposit sought to be made by means of a banker’s draft if he does not know that the drawer carries on business as a banker in the United Kingdom.

(3) Where the deposit is made on behalf of the candidate, the person making the deposit shall at the time he makes it give his name and address to the returning officer (unless they have previously been given to him under section 67 of this Act or rule 6(4) above).

However moving on from trivial matters, to the more serious issue of how you split expenses incurred jointly between two campaigns.

Below are the declarations of Phil Davies and his election agent Jean Stapleton about Phil Davies’ election expenses return in Birkenhead and Tranmere stating that to the “best of my knowledge and belief it is a complete and accurate return as required by law”.

Jean Stapleton election expenses declaration Birkenhead and Tranmere 2015
Jean Stapleton election expenses declaration Birkenhead and Tranmere 2015
Phil Davies election expenses declaration Birkenhead and Tranmere 2015
Phil Davies election expenses declaration Birkenhead and Tranmere 2015

There are maximum expenditure limits for local election candidates, which are set at £740 + 6 pence per an elector. As there were 9,525 electors in Birkenhead and Tranmere this means the maximum expenditure limit comes to £740 + (£0.06 times 9,525) = £1,311.50 . You can see this amount used for Phil Davies’ election expenses return below.

Election expenses return Birkenhead and Tranmere 2015 Phil Davies
Election expenses return Birkenhead and Tranmere 2015 Phil Davies

Spending over these limits is classed as an illegal practice, see section 76 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and if the candidate and/or agent “knew or ought reasonably to have known that the expenses would be incurred in excess of that maximum amount” then a court can find them guilty of an illegal practice and they could be barred from standing in the by-election that would result.

The total spent by Phil Davies’ campaign as declared on the election expenses return was £1,266.17 as you can see from this page below.

Election expenses total spending Birkenhead and Tranmere Phil Davies 2015
Election expenses total spending Birkenhead and Tranmere Phil Davies 2015

Electoral Commission guidance (see the bottom of page 81 here states on the issue of splitting expenses:

The honest assessment principle

5.19 In all cases you should make an honest assessment, based on the facts, of the proportion of expenditure that can fairly be attributed to your candidate spending.

5.20 This is important, because when you sign the declaration for your election expenses return, you are confirming that the return is complete and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief.

As part of the campaigns of Frank Field and Phil Davies a joint leaflet was put out and the total costs of £1,511 were split between the two campaigns.

Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 23
Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 23

As you can see below £377.75 of the joint leaflet was attributed to Frank Field’s campaign.

Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 22
Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 22

The invoice submitted as part of Phil Davies’ election expenses return show that the remaining (£1500 – £377.75) = £1133.55 was split five ways equally between the campaigns for Bidston & James, Birkenhead & Tranmere, Claughton, Prenton and Rock Ferry.

Phil Davies election expenses invoice joint leaflet
Phil Davies election expenses invoice joint leaflet

The portion of this leaflet attributed to Phil Davies’ campaign was £226.65.

However different amounts of leaflets were printed for each area (as you can see on the invoice). 7,263 for Bidston & St. James, 8,055 for Birkenhead and Tranmere, 6,787 for Claughton, 6,974 for Rock Ferry and 6,090 for Prenton.

This total comes to 35,169 leaflets. The proportion for Birkenhead and Tranmere was 8,055. 8,055 divided by 35,169 = 22.9%. 22.9% of £1133.55 = £259.58 (£32.93 higher than the number used when it is instead just split five ways instead).

This wasn’t the only joint leaflet between Frank Field’s and Phil Davies’ campaign though. There was also the “Vote Twice” leaflet. As you can see below, £243 of this was attributed to Frank Field’s campaign.

Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 22
Birkenhead General Election 2015 election expenses return short campaign page 22

Here’s the invoice for the vote twice leaflet submitted with Phil Davies’ election expenses return.

Phil Davies Birkenhead and Tranmere election expenses vote twice invoice
Phil Davies Birkenhead and Tranmere election expenses vote twice invoice

This is where I can’t even understand how the split used has been arrived at.

£972 – the proportion paid for by Frank Field’s campaign (£243) = £729

The invoice states:

VOTE TWICE leaflets
QTY 3000 CLAUGHTON/PRENTON
QTY 4000 BIDSTON/ROCK FERRY/BIRKENHEAD

Handwritten on the invoice is “BIRKENHEAD & TRANMERE SHARE = £139.80 ONLY DELIVERED 3600 leaflets = £71.90”

If £729 was split five ways it would come out as £145.80 per a ward.
If £729 is split by numbers of leaflets delivered in Birkenhead and Tranmere it would be £729 * (3600/7000) = £374.91.

If the amount for the proportion of leaflets for Bidston/Rock Ferry/Birkenhead (4000) is calculated as 4000/7000 * £729 = £416.57. Then as it’s for three wards it’s divided by three, £416.57/3 = £138.86 (which is near enough to one of the figures used of £139.80).

However this figure (£139.80 would be for 1333 leaflets (4000 divided by 3)). For some bizarre reason 3600/7000 has been used to arrive at a proportion of £138.86 as £71.90. Doing it this way appears to be incorrect (to me anyway as logically if 3600 leaflets were delivered instead of 1333 it should lead to an increased not decreased amount).

If 3600 leaflets were delivered in Birkenhead and Tranmere then the figure should have been (£972 – Frank Field’s share (£243)) * (3600/7000) = £374.91 (£303.10 higher then declared).

The net effect of using of both these calculations under the “honest assessment principle” of sharing costs between these joint leaflets is to increase the expenditure on this campaign by £32.93 + £303.10 = £336.03.

This would make the total expenditure £336.03 + £1,266.17 = £1602.20 (massively above the maximum expenditure limit of £1,311.50).

So who’s got their figures wrong, myself or Phil Davies and his agent?

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8 Members of the European Parliament to be elected

8 Members of the European Parliament to be elected

8 Members of the European Parliament to be elected

                          

Although I wrote a blog post about the notice of election for twenty-three Wirral Council councillors about a week ago I haven’t yet written about the notice of election for the eight Members of the European Parliament held on the same day.

Below is the notice of election for the European elections. The constituency for a MEP is the whole of the North West of England which is millions of people who could vote in the election. Also candidates wishing to stand in the European elections have to find a deposit of £5,000. I presume (as in General Elections) the deposit is refundable if those candidates get x% of the vote.

NORTH WEST ELECTORAL REGION

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT:

1. An election is to be held for EIGHT members of the European Parliament for the NORTH WEST Electoral Region.

2. If the election is contested the poll will take place on THURSDAY 22 MAY 2014.

3. Nomination papers are to be delivered to the Regional Returning Officer for the North West, Room 134, Town Hall, Manchester, between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM from TUESDAY 15 APRIL 2014 to THURSDAY 17 APRIL 2014 and between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM from TUESDAY 22 APRIL 2014 to THURSDAY 24 APRIL 2014. Forms of nomination papers may also be obtained at that place, during those times.

4. The deposit for each registered political party or individual candidate, being the sum of £5000, can only be made by the deposit of legal tender or by means of a banker’s draft (banks operating in the United Kingdom or Gibraltar only), at the place and during the time for delivery of nomination papers. No other method of making a deposit will be available.

5. Applications to be included in the register of electors or for postal or proxy voting must be made to the relevant Electoral Registration Officer for the applicant’s area. Further information can be found at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk or www.northwestvotes.gov.uk.

6. Applications to be included in the register of electors must reach the relevant Electoral Registration Officer by TUESDAY 6 MAY 2014, if they are to be effective for the election.

7. All applications and notices in respect of postal voting and those in respect of changes to existing proxy voting arrangements must reach the relevant Electoral Registration Officer by 5:00 PM on WEDNESDAY 7 MAY 2014, if they are to be effective for the election.

8. All new applications to vote by proxy (except those applied for on relevant emergency grounds) must reach the relevant Electoral Registration Officer by 5:00 PM on WEDNESDAY 14 MAY 2014, if they are to be effective for the election.

9. All applications to vote by proxy on relevant emergency grounds (disability occurring after 5:00 PM on WEDNESDAY 14 MAY 2014; grounds relating to applicant’s occupation, service or employment where the applicant became aware of those grounds after 5:00 PM on WEDNESDAY 14 MAY 2014; or detention under civil powers as a mental health patient) must reach the relevant Electoral Registration Officer by 5:00 PM on THURSDAY 22 MAY 2014, if they are to be effective for the election.

DATED: Monday 14 April 2014

Sir Howard Bernstein
Regional Returning Officer for the North West
Town Hall
Manchester
M60 2LA

Printed and Published by the REGIONAL RETURNING OFFICER, TOWN HALL, MANCHESTER, M60 2LA

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