|Hope not Hate Ltd director Lowles -|
another incorrect return to the
It now seems that once again Hope not Hate are playing games with BSD invoices on their electoral returns. This year, the company itself appears to escape the taint of scandal which always surrounds Nick Lowles' electoral declarations of expenditure as the interesting bit is the lack of BSD invoices submitted as a part of HnH's overall expenses. Included in this batch are just two, totalling some £14,000. At least this time they contain the appropriate amount of VAT. Blue State Digital, as explained in our earlier article, also provide consultancy services to the Labour Party and several trade unions, and many of the senior management have close links to Labour. In their own publicity material, they boast about how they act only on behalf of 'progressive' causes. Belonging to Euro-fanatic Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP group, BSD sprang from Howard Dean's failed presidential bid in the US, and specialise in running online campaigns.
|Blue State Digital - at least they remembered to add VAT|
|HnH Witch-in-Chief Ruth Smeeth, |
charged with magicking up the
entire campaign with no donations
What we can't quite work out is what the point is of all this. The largest trade unions still admit to funding Hope not Hate - UNISON boast of the 'joint campaign' on their website - so what is the point of pretending that they don't have big money behind them unless it is a trial run ahead of the introduction of the 'Lobbying Act' (the Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill) to see what they can reasonably expect to get away with in terms of concealing expenditure and donations from disclosure. We're at a loss as to what the alternatives are, unless they are attempting to play down their 'big money' links as they continue to try and raise un-needed donations from private individuals, but even that would be connected to the Lobbying Act: this was the reason for their 'become a supporter for a quid' campaign.
We're well aware that the Electoral Commission has a history of bullying the smallest boy in the playground, as previous focus on UKIP has proved: most recently, Nigel Farage was fined £200 for failing to specifically declare his constituency office even though it appears on his European Parliamentary declaration, while the Liberal Democrats have still not been forced to return the £2.5m of stolen money they received from a jailed, non-resident donor. Will they act on this? Several people have indicated a willingness to submit complaints and we expect them to be with the Electoral Commission within the week, but we suspect that vested interests within the big unions and the Labour Party will prevent much happening.