Exclusive: The Mystery of Mass Mailings in East Dunbartonshire

UPDATE: Wednesday 29th August 2018 – 1:45pm

I now believe that this is the mailing involved and as you can see it is definitely local in nature:

Start of original article

Following a tweet from John Nicolson, the former MP for East Dunbartonshire, regarding income and spending of the Liberal Democrats in that constituency I decided to delve into the Party’s spending at last year’s General Election.

Following an election each candidate has to submit a return to the Electoral Commission detailing the amount they have spent on the campaign. There is a limit on candidate spending for each constituency and in East Dunbartonshire this is £14,619.03.

Jo Swinson, who won the seat for the Liberal Democrats, declared a total spend £14,409.44 (just under the maximum allowed). This spending included £9,842.70 on “Unsolicited Material” which is mainly the Campaign material you all receive through your doors.

As well as candidate spending a return also has to be submitted for party spending and in the case of mailings the Electoral Commission has this advice as to whether something should be classified as candidate or party spending:

“A leaflet and a local newspaper advertisement promoting a party’s policies on health are distributed in a number of constituencies. The leaflet and the local newspaper advertisement include no reference to any candidates or local issues. The full cost of the leaflet and the local newspaper advertisement should be treated as party spending.”

“If however the main purpose of the leaflet and the local newspaper advertisement is to promote the candidates in the relevant constituencies, the material should be treated as candidate spending. The same general principle applies to online campaigning.”  (Source: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/226518/UKPGE-2017-Factsheet-Splitting-spending.pdf)

I spent several hours this evening trawling through the Electoral Commission’s spending database and discovered something very interesting indeed, namely 2 invoices totalling £12,295.80 for items described as “Jo Swinson Mailing – Personalised letters x2 kinds plus inserting and outer envelopes”, “Jo Swinson Mailing – 6pp 1/3 A4 leaflet” and “Jo Swinson Mailing – Postage”. You can view the invoices at these links:

http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/Api/Spending/Invoices/51124

http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/Api/Spending/Invoices/51125

Now, the interesting point is that these were classified as 100% party spending as can be seen here:

http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/English/Spending/SP0356172

http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/English/Spending/SP0356173

Remember that for a mailing to come under party spending it must not mention the candidate or local issues at all. Given the description of the mailing (what sounds like a personalised letter to voters in an envelope) this certainly does not seem the case to me.

Given the high cost of this mailing (just £2k under the total candidate spending limit) I have had no option but to refer the details of my findings to the Electoral Commission as a possible breach of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 

I will be reaching out to East Dunbartonshire Liberal Democrats for comment and will update this article if received and also when I hear if the Electoral Commission plan to take any action or not.

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A Scottish Broadcasting Opportunity Missed?

At the SNP Conference earlier this month I’d heard of plans by an organisation called Scottish Broadcasting Company to launch a bid to buy out STV2 which had previously announced it would close with the loss of up to 59 jobs.

The following week I came across a crowdfunder which aimed to raise £1 Million by August 9th to enable the purchase of STV2 to go ahead. This crowdfunder page stated the following:  Read more

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Is New Waverley Going To Be The Home Of The Power Grab?

The Office of The Secretary of State for Scotland announced on Thursday its plans to relocate the department from Melville Crescent to a new UK Government Hub at the New Waverley Development in Edinburgh City Centre.

The announcement has led to a lot of speculation on Social Media that Secretary of State David Mundell and an “army” of 2,900 Civil Servants will use this hub as a base to implement the anticipated “power grab” following the recent passing into law of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

So here is what we know…. Read more

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Scottish Universal Credit Sanctions Statistics

Universal Credit Failed Image

In this article I’m going to show, by Westminster constituency, the number of people claiming Universal Credit (UC) in Scotland and also show how many of these are being sanctioned.

I had hoped to do the same for those claming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) & Employment Support Allowance (ESA) but was unable to narrow the data down by constituency in the same way as for UC. Read more

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Following on from his pathetic and misleading question about baby boxes at Yesterday’s First Ministers Questions I decided to have a closer look into Miles Briggs and found a few things of interest.

Let’s start with this Tweet he posted this morning about Joanna Cherry.

Image of Tweet by Miles Briggs having a go at Joanna Cherry

The Tweet reads “Poor Miss Cherry and her constant ramblings… she’s to be pitied, not hated…” Read more

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Scotland Office’s Mysterious Multi-Million Pound Payment For “Candidates Mailings”

Update 18:34 on 25/04/18: The Electoral Commission allows each candidate standing in an election to send one piece of campaign mail to every registered household free of charge, so I imagine that this spend would be the total for all candidates in Scotland.

While doing some research into spending by The Scotland Office into their spending on Social Media I stumbled across this rather interesting payment to the Royal Mail.

Image Showing £3 Million Payment for "Candidates Mailings"

The Payment of £3,001,316.17 was included in a breakdown of the Government Department’s spending for August 2017. Read more

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A Personal Message From Marky

I thought I should post this to explain to anyone that hasn’t seen my tweets on the matter why the site hasn’t been updated for a wee while.

March turned out to be a very traumatic month for me personally which has left me pretty broken, down and dispirited. Read more

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