Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Lowles attempt to evade Lobbying Act breaks electoral funding law as 30% of website users non-UK resident

Website campaign accepts donations from impermissible donors

Things are set to go from bad to worse for Nick Lowles following his latest attempt to get around the reporting requirements for electoral expenditure to the Electoral Commission.

The new lobbying act (more formerly the Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014) has caused problems for his personal cash cow and influence machine.

Yesterday saw him asking for donations of £1 from each of the people who visit Hope not Hate's website in order to demonstrate - falsely - that they're a grass roots organisation and not a professional Labour Party front financed by the Unions. This overlooks the reality that in the 2010 general election, 83% of their funding came from the Unions or organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Trust, and only 17% from donations from the general public even if we stretch the term 'general public' to its limits. Desperation has driven him to repeat that call this morning: while the normal fare of internet memes with bland platitudes gain many hundreds of shares, yesterday and today's call for £1 donations have generated just 2 shares. One from a self-professed UAF/SWP supporter linked to AntiFa, and the other from someone who claims not to have enough money to afford a quid.

Just one small problem though. Although the £1 donations may help him pretend he has grass roots 

HnH's 'traffic sources' according to internet
traffic and ranking company Alexa.
20% of HnH''s web traffic is from Belgium.
support, they are likely to raise another problem. If you look at the analytics for Hope not Hate's website, you will notice that only 70% of the website's traffic is from the UK. Almost 20% is from Belgium - what organisations could be based there which have a vested interest in an anti-UKIP group, we wonder? - and 7% from the United States: HnH's consultants, Blue State Digital, are based there. Lets not forget that Blue State Digital 'accidentally' forgot to bill Hope not Hate VAT back in 2010 either, thereby evading at least £70,000 of tax.

In case its not clear, the big red button
says 'Donate' on it
As you can see from the infographic, this causes something of a problem for Nick. Why? Because at the bottom of the page where he is advertising for people to become an HnH supporter for only £1, it doesn't say 'Pay', it says 'Donate'. And, in fact, a donation it is, because you don't actually get anything for your money apart from a thank you e-mail: in case Nick has it changed, we've screen-grabbed it for posterity.

So what is the problem? Hope not Hate is planning to use these funds to campaign against UKIP. Lowles wrote a long, self-congratulatory article praising himself on the 10th anniversary of Hope not Hate and setting out how UKIP is now the target, while the donation advert itself specifically states "All the money raised will go directly to our 2015 campaign fund." There's only one problem with that. He is touting for donations amongst a pool of internet users of which barely 70% are UK resident. The other 30% don't live in the UK and therefore, according to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (Schedule 11, part I, to be precise) these people are impermissible donors from whom Hope not Hate can not accept even a penny.

Despite this, nowhere on the donation form does it ask whether people are permissible donors, and in fact it gives a pull down list of countries and asks for 'Region/State/Province' almost as if they expect impermissible donors to use the site.

Needless to say, we will be drawing this to the attention of the Electoral Commission. We have had a couple of people who are impermissible donors make a contribution to their campaign funds, and each time, it was accepted with the following message:

Nick and the HnH team thanking us for our impermissible donation to their
anti-UKIP general election fund. Made by a non resident, non-UK national.

UPDATE - 14:30hrs

Nick Lowles has just posted on his blog that to date they have received contributions from 'over 2000' people, and he is upping their target to 3,000 by Friday. Which means by Friday, he will have taken donations from around 900 impermissible donors for their political campaign against UKIP.

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