Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Electoral Commission Fails to Inspire Public Confidence

The Electoral Commission (EC) has given the thumbs up to "Lord" non-dom Ashcroft's company, Bearwood Corporate Services*. It was a "permissible donor".

Bearwood Corporate Finance, advises on acquisitions and mergers, minimum fee £10,000.

I will just whizz us through the result of 18 months of Electoral Commission (EC) deliberations.

BCS, not a regulated entity,
Which means what exactly? EC does not develop this thought.
Lord Ashcroft ...provided some information on a voluntary basis, although in response to requests for documents regarding BCS and its parent companies (including ownership, control, beneficial interests or provision of funding to those companies), his solicitors indicated that Lord Ashcroft did not have in his possession any such documents, and that his policy was to destroy documents unless retaining them was a requirement for an auditing, tax, or regulatory reason and any documents not within this category were not retained once their purpose had been served.Great policy. Free tip on How to Succeed in Business. Saves on space. Who wants to keep stuff about clients, outcomes &c?
The first reported donation by BCS to the party was on 28 February 2003. Between then and 31 December 2009 the party reported £5,137,785 of donations from BCS.
The EC gives no data on when BCS was founded, what its turnover was, what its profits were. Nada.
IN the absence of any data, let us assume that a company might choose to donate 5% of its total profits to the excellent Conservative Party. I make that an annual profit of £14,285,700. Nice work if you can get it. Inland Revenue please take note.

On the other hand, the EC says
There is no definition in PPERA** of “carrying on business”. However, in other areas of the law, the term has been interpreted broadly. It is not necessary for a company to generate profit. A company need not be actively trading, provided that the company continues to engage in business transactions, such as employing staff or paying for business facilities. Additionally, even if a company has not yet traded, provided that it is preparing to do so, it is likely to be within the scope of “carrying on business”.

  • throughout the period under consideration BCS conducted a management consultancy business

  • up to July 2006 it also conducted a merger broking business 
(Still is, according to its website).

  • from December 2007 it carried on business as a holding company
BCS’ accounts indicate that the funds used for BCS’ donations were not generated wholly from BCS’ own trading activities.
(Money shifted to and fro from Besleaze)

The Commission concluded that BCS met the permissibility requirements for making political donations.
So that's all right then.

I'm bored already. This is like reading a New Age book entitled "Faeries are Real, Faeries are Good, Come Meet the Faeries in My Wood".

Read it yourself, if you think it is worth your time, it's only 7 pages long, with big type.

The point that I take home is that the Electoral Commission should be scrapped as part of the Governments' Debt Reduction Programme, and political party funding should be laid wide open to the free market. Anyone who wants to buy a politician, go right ahead. Be our guest.
Welcome to Britain, the land of unregulated political donations.

Remember this is the same EC that ruled that the Fraudster Michael Brown's company was OK to give a donation to the LibDems on the very day it was set up.

The aim of the Electoral Commission  is "integrity and public confidence in the democratic process".

My humble opinion is that they have utterly and completely failed. I could go on, but it would just be a rant, so I will close with just one final word: 


*Funny name. Whatever would a bear be doing in a wood? I would have thought CathPope would be a more upmarket moniker. Never mind.
** The Law that covers this matter.

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