23-Apr-2011 - The scandal over the funding of the 'Yes' campaign
To view the original article CLICK HERE
The AV referendum scandal that calls for a 'No'
The scandal over the funding of the 'Yes' campaign in the AV referendum reveals the effrontery of our political class, says Christopher Booker.
The only really interesting thing to have emerged from a farcically trivial campaign for a referendum nobody wants on the “Alternative Vote” was an extraordinary scandal exposed two months ago by The Spectator. With the aid leaked internal documents, Ed Howker revealed that the Electoral Reform Society, the biggest single donor to the “Yes to AV” campaign, might derive huge financial benefits from the introduction of a voting system to which, until last year, it was bitterly opposed.The Yes campaign has largely been organised by employees of the ERS, which is the main shareholder in a company called Electoral Reform Services Ltd. This already draws much of its £21 million annual income from providing poll cards, ballot papers and other paraphernalia for our voting system. If the Yes campaign were successful, it would create a system so much more complex to administer (it is estimated that it could triple the cost of a general election) that it could open up a huge new business opportunity for the ERS’s commericial arm. (The ERS has, of course, strongly denied this.)What lays this even more open to charges of self-interest is that until last year no one was more scornful of AV than the ERS itself, set up in 1884 to campaign for full-blown proportional representation and nothing less. Still more shocking are the various internal memos leaked to Mr Howker showing how anxious the ERS was to hide all this from the media, so that the public would not be aware of its potential financial interest in the referendum’s outcome.While our democracy continues to gurgle down the plughole, this pitiful, unwanted farce is turning out to be no more than another instance of the shamelesss effrontery of the political class that now rules over us.
Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins
#08 Middle Street, Chepstow, NP16 5ET, Monmouthshire, United Kingdoms.
tel: 01291 - 62 65 62