Tory councillor Kelly Tolhurst has won the ‘open primary’ in Rochester and Strood. With a six-figure cost and a five-figure turnout, the postal ballot of every voter in the constituency has set the Conservative Party around back £18 per vote — so it’s just as well they don’t plan on declaring it as an election expense!
By not officially having a candidate, clever clogs at Tory HQ reckon they can spend as much as they fancy without exceeding strict limits on campaign spending. But Michael Crick has calledthem out on the total charade of holding a so-called ‘primary’ involving just two candidates — both local councillors — and doing so right in the middle of the main campaign.
And another thing. It might not be legal. Both UKIP and Crick have spoken to lawyers who claim that the ruse could be open to a legal challenge.
Lawyers say cost of Tory Rochester primary should be election expense & may lead to result being overturned http://t.co/Pp1unf5so5
The Electoral Commission have also told Scrapbook that the Tories have not asked them for any specific guidance on primaries in the context of a by-election:
“The guidance that has been referred to is on our website and has of course been sent out to all parties at various points but the Conservative party did not approach us for anything bespoke beyond this.”
The treasurer of the local Conservative Association — who could be responsible for any overspends under Section 79 of PPERA — wasn’t exactly keen to chat when Scrapbook rang her earlier today.
The response of barrister and part-time MP Stephen Phillips to questions about his outside earnings was utterly breathtaking in its arrogance. He was, however, very keen to emphasise that his work was confined to periods in which Parliament is not sitting and that it “doesn’t affect the way in which I perform as an MP”:
“The money I earn outside Parliament is money for which I work very hard. It also demonstrates really quite how successful I am.
“It might well be thought that having someone who commands the sort of fees that I can when the House is not sitting might be a very good thing for my constituents.
“What is interesting of course is the concentration there, really, on money and the feeding of the green-eyed god of envy rather than actually concentrating on whether I’m actually doing my job.”
Suffice it to say that Phillips appears to have had something of a schedule clash this week. He voted on Monday but hasn’t been seen in the chamber since. He was supposed to be at a public accounts committee hearing on overall government finances yesterday afternoon, which he also missed.
At 10:30 FOR TRIAL Part Heard 2011-357 Lakatamia Shipping Co Limited v Nobu Su & 6 ors
£750,000-per-year Phillips is representing a shipping firm in a commercial lawsuit over £50 million in forward freight agreements. The MP, who can’t be bothered to turn up for his own job, even had the cheek to claim that the defendant “cannot be trusted”.
Never mind the 600,000 extra children living in absolute poverty since the Coalition came to power, has anyone considered how the hard-pressed residents of NW3 will cope if a Mansion Tax is imposed by Ed Balls?
Former senior medical adviser to the Foreign Office Dr Harald Lipman lives on Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead — where a pied-à-terre will set you back an average of £1.25m. He told the Ham & High about the severity of the crisis which could afflict the wealthy enclave:
“This is a non-partisan, apolitical campaign, it’s humanitarian.”
Dr Lipman and fellow campaigners are appealing for signatures on a petition and have not ruled out a protest march.
He is being supported by double Oscar-winning actor-turned-MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Glenda Jackson. We know that Ms Jackson may be affected by the measure as her writer and PR consultant son Dan Hodges — with whom she shares a £2m property an hour’s drive away from her constituency — has been whingeing about the measure from the comfort of the Telegraph.
Over to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson:
@Mr_Eugenides@alexmassie but 'it's just an ordinary 3 story townhouse with a garden in London, bought in the 70s by an Oscar winner…
Here’s the email from Nigel Farage telling UKIP supporters to buy a song about “illegal immigrants in every town”, which is, errr, sung in a mock-Caribbean accent:
But the “satirical” ditty, sung by ex-Radio 1 DJ Mike Read, has now been pulled — hours after shadow front bencher Chuka Umunna told LBC radio that people were unlikely to give UKIP “the benefit of the doubt” with their candidates’ extensive track record of racist outbursts.
Rumours that a video for the song featured Read singing in blackface could not be confirmed at time of publication.
So apparently Nigel Farage is running Britain’s foreign policy.
Frightened witless by the rise of UKIP, the Tories’ Brussels contingent have now abstained from the vote to approve the new European commission in a massive snub to their own candidate, former Lords leader Jonathan Hill, and David Cameron — who just two days ago was applying pressure for a ‘yes’ vote.
Hill had already endured the humiliation of having bankers’ bonuses stripped from his portfolio and subjected to a near unprecedented second appointment hearing — after his poorly-briefed bumbling before MEPs wascompared to Hugh Grant.
So … having been subjected to the diplomatic arse-whupping of losing the European commission president vote by 26-2, the UK was then offered the olive branch of a top finance portfolio — and responds by failing to back the Commission and their own nominee.
How will Cameron bring UK influence to bear, such that he can extract promised concessions from the EU, while engaged in the most utterly craven pandering to UKIP?