There is now compelling evidence that the Tories broke the law in the anxiety to beat UKIP in 2014 and 2015. Election expenses that went way beyond those permitted by law were incurred in a desperate bid to hold Farage and his cohorts at bay. In numerous seats it is clear that a Tory is sitting only because the law was broken. New elections are essential. And it is not clear what their outcome would be, except, perhaps, for Labour.
I cannot accept the FT view of this issue, where columnist Sebastian Payne has said:
It is baffling that Britain’s oldest political party, which is generally professionally run and well-funded, made such basic “administrative errors”.
I hope he is being ironic, but he’s so Tory sycophantic I could not be sure. The reality is, of course, that these weren’t errors. There were no mistakes. These were expenses deliberately misrepresented, which is why the Electoral Commission had to go to the High Court to get evidence on them from the Conservatives, who did not want to play ball with the investigation, knowing how bad it really was.
I am quite sure that the law was wilfully broken. I am not saying the Tories were the only party to do it: Labour and the LibDems have also been fined. But the Tories, as the Electoral Commission has made clear, did it on a grander scale and tried to cover it up.
The outcome is that we have a political system where rules, laid down by these parties in parliament, have been causally tossed aside. This is not then a democracy. It’s a moneyocracy, and given the nature of the funding for some parties, something becoming akin to a plutocracy. And I am a democrat to my core. I also loathe Farage. But given the choice between democratic failure and Farage I’d choose Farage any day. Principles come first. But not, as many of us have always suspected, if you’re a Conservative.