NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories

Three weeks from the referendum on the alternative vote, Dominic Browne reports on the extent to which the NO to AV campaign is funded and run by Tories.

Tories

In their publicity material they describes themselves as a “cross-party” campaign, concerned that changing the voting system”would undermine confidence in our electoral process…”; however, “NO to AV” receive 99 per cent of their declared donations from Tory donors, who have given a staggering £28 million to the Conservative party and a further £10.6m in loans.

Also for a campaign worried about public confidence in the electoral process, they show a remarkable lack of concern when it comes to the damage their donors have done to confidence in so many fields of public life.

To take a few examples:

Michael SpencerFinance

City Index Limited, of which Spencer is a majority shareholder, was fined £490,000 by the Financial Services Authority in 2010. And according to the Daily Mail, Spencer’s firm “advised councils hit by Iceland collapse”.

John NashHealth

Mr Nash is the owner of private healthcare provider Care UK. He donated
£21,000 to Andrew Lansley. The Times reported (£) he “would be well placed to benefit from a Conservative promise to make it easier for private providers to perform more NHS work”.

Andrew CookIndustry

Mr Cook is a Sheffield-based businessman who lobbied Tory ministers to
scrap an £80m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters. That’s the same Sheffield Forgemasters the No campaign preposterously claim to support, and claim would be saved by a No vote.

Jon WoodJustice System

Mr Wood was branded “unreliable”, and motivated only by “animus” by a High Court judge. As Left Foot Forward has previously reported, this is a man who donated £500,000 to the Tory party.

Lord Kirkham Parliament

In 1996 Lord Kirkham’s knighthood was reportedly described by No2AV
patron John Prescott as “the crudest example yet of honours given for
financial services to the Tory party”.

Also, talking of services to the Tory party, John Prescott may be interested to know that the Labour No to AV campaign have hired William Norton as the campaign agent whose name is on all their election material as their “responsible person”; i.e. he is held accountable should any rules be broken.

Mr Norton is not only a Reddich Conservative councillor, but also the man who defeated Mr Prescott’s plans for a North East Regional Assembly in the referendum in 2004.

The above examples are but the tip of the iceberg in illustrating just how “cross party” the No2AV campaign really is.

• The AV referendum takes place in just under three weeks’ time, on Thursday, May 5th.

Correction:

The No campaign got in touch after this blog was posted to outline that William Norton is not the Labour No to AV’s campaign agent. They say,”He is on the website, because that was built by NO to AV – but on all Labour NO to AV literature Joan Ryan, former Vice Chair of the Labour Party, is the person responsible.” We are happy to correct the record. The substantive point of the article remains the same.

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131 Responses to “NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories”

  1. Anon E Mouse

    Amrish – So the fact Labour MP’s are hypocrites is shown once again. Thanks for the link…

  2. Dylan Lewis

    RT @leftfootfwd: NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories: http://bit.ly/fx6s8c writes @dbr1981 #Yes2AV @YesInMay

  3. Compass

    99% of NOtoAV funding comes from Tory donors
    http://bit.ly/f9vFkA #yesinmay

  4. WestMonster

    And the other 1%? RT @CompassOffice: 99% of NOtoAV funding comes from Tory donors http://bit.ly/f9vFkA #yesinmay

  5. Tim Hardy

    No surprises here. Vote #yes2av RT @CompassOffice: 99% of NOtoAV funding comes from Tory donors
    http://bit.ly/f9vFkA #yesinmay

  6. Matt W.B. Plummer

    RT @bc_tmh: No surprises here. Vote #yes2av RT @CompassOffice: 99% of NOtoAV funding comes from Tory donors
    http://bit.ly/f9vFkA #yesinmay

  7. Aaron Hill

    RT @leftfootfwd: NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories: http://bit.ly/fx6s8c writes @dbr1981 #Yes2AV @YesInMay

  8. Adam Gray

    Jonathan, if what you say is true about ERSL having “no financial interest whatsoever”, why does ERSL say:

    “There is almost no aspect of our democracy ERSL’s services do not touch – their stationary and postal voting packs, poll cards and ballot papers are used in parliamentary, European and local elections. They have already been awarded to contract to administer the 2012 Mayoral election using electronic counting machines. So, should Britain decide to hold more complex elections as with the Alternative Voting system, ERSL could be well-placed to receive the contracts.”

    Who’s lying – them or you?

  9. George W. Potter

    @9

    Given that the government and the Electoral Commission have said that they do not plan to use voting machines of any kind for general elections under AV (a conclusion they reached after trials of voting machines a few years ago) then the only business ERSL could expect to receive under the new voting system would be providing ballot papers, pencils, ballot boxes and polling booths – exactly the same as they do now. They would not stand to make any more money from the change than they do at the moment.

    Furthermore, ERSL is not the same as ERS – ERS is just a shareholder in ERSL. And, above all, the Electoral Commission has looked into the donations by ERS and has ruled that there is no conflict of interest.

  10. Sir Moansalot

    RT @leftfootfwd: NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories http://j.mp/f9vFkA

  11. Tosh

    I find it interesting to note that the Tories are against using AV to elect MP’s, however they are more than happy to use the same system to elect their own party leader.

    I knew the Tories were hypocrites but even I’m surprised by this.

    Also, if the BNP are against AV, surely this is a good reason to be for it?

  12. warhammer: Warhammer 40K Dawn of War II Retribution

    […] NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories … […]

  13. WarringtonGreenParty

    RT @CompassOffice: 99% of NOtoAV funding comes from Tory donors
    http://bit.ly/f9vFkA #yesinmay

  14. Mark Stevo

    The Electoral Commission has said that “the commission hasn’t considered whether electric machines are necessary or value for money”, which of course isn’t remotely the same as saying they won’t be introduced.

  15. Mark Stevo

    Also, can you point to the source where the EC says there’s no issue with the link between the ERS and ERSL? The only comment I can find relates to the integrity of the count.

  16. Labour NO to AV: Roses growing on a thorn bush | Left Foot Forward

    […] morning Left Foot Forward reported on the level of funding for the NO to AV campaign that comes from Tory donors. We can now reveal […]

  17. Dave Citizen

    Is this really what British democracy has sunk to – self interested groups slagging each other’s campaigns off while the democratic credentials of either system are all but ignored? It is insulting enough that the British people have been offered such a measly choice for changing their voting system. Why don’t our so called representatives demand that we be given a proper choice such as from a short list of options drawn up by independent academics from the best of what exists around the world? Mother of Democracy – don’t make me laugh!

  18. Denis Cooper

    You may be interested in a comment that I’ve just posted on today’s leader in the Telegraph, as follows:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/av-referendum/8454938/There-is-an-alternative-to-the-fudge-that-is-AV.html

    If the Telegraph really wants to improve our democracy then it could start by refusing to uncritically propagate whatever rubbish is emitted by the Tories and NO2AV.

    First we had the lie that it would cost £250 million to switch to AV, a completely fabricated figure which included the cost of the referendum itself, and the cost of voting or vote counting machines which would not be needed and would not be purchased, plus a sum for educating voters when the Electoral Commission is doing that now and the cost is part of the cost of the referendum.

    Now we have the lie that each general election would cost nearly £200 million more under AV than under FPTP, based on a meaningless extrapolation from the costs of continent-wide elections held in Australia.

    If the Tories really wanted to work out a genuine estimate of the extra cost of running AV elections they wouldn’t be looking as far afield as Australia, but instead only to Ireland where parliamentary by-elections are held under exactly the same variant of AV that we would have here.

    Here are the tabulated results of such an Irish by-election, and note that it’s ballot paper and pencil, followed by a transparent manual count:

    http://electionsireland.org/counts.cfm?election=2007B&cons=85&ref

    It’s easy to get an idea of how much extra work was involved in the eight counting rounds needed under AV, compared to just the single round which would be needed under FPTP, and it’s easy to work out order of magnitude estimates of how much that extra work needed for AV counts might add to the cost of a general election here.

    And the answer is not an extra £200 million but maybe an extra £2 million, about a 2% increase in the total cost.

    Correctly or incorrectly the Tories fear losing seats under AV, and they’re so desperate to block it that they’ll resort to any misrepresentation, any lie, any smear, anything that they think might help fool people into voting against it.

  19. Watching You

    Scared of losing control – RT @leftfootfwd: NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories http://bit.ly/ejZlPr

  20. chang mei wan

    RT @DrKMJ: RT @leftfootfwd: NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories: http://bit.ly/fx6s8c writes @dbr1981 #Yes …

  21. JC Willis

    RT @leftfootfwd: NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories: http://bit.ly/fx6s8c writes @dbr1981 #Yes2AV @YesInMay

  22. A no vote will mark a victory for stagnation and negativity « Lost Alumni

    […] their power but presents so many voters with such little influence. A yes vote can deny the serial benefactors of our rotten quo that […]

  23. Adam

    RT @wdjstraw: 99% of #No2AV donors are Tories – so much for a 'cross party' campaign http://bit.ly/fx6s8c #Yes2AV

  24. Robert Barr

    @laurencemurphy 99% of #No2AV donors are Tories – so much for a 'cross party' campaign http://bit.ly/fx6s8c

  25. Tim Hardy

    @aaronjohnpeters @lisaansell 99% of declared donations to no2av are from Tory donors – I think that says it all http://j.mp/gjAdLf

  26. Dave Clements

    RT @wdjstraw: 99% of #No2AV donors are Tories – so much for a 'cross party' campaign http://bit.ly/fx6s8c #Yes2AV

  27. Ethan Bradley

    RT @leftfootfwd: NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories http://bit.ly/ejZlPr

  28. Lisa Cagnacci

    Leaflet in the post yesterday urging me to vote no to AV. Who paid for this? Tory donors, apparently: see http://shrunklink.com/hobf

  29. Justin Whitehouse

    RT @CompassOffice: 99% of NOtoAV funding comes from Tory donors
    http://bit.ly/f9vFkA #yesinmay

  30. It's Tory money that owns No2AV - left, right and centre | Left Foot Forward

    […] funding for the ‘No to AV’ campaign, including its Labour subsiduary. Following this blog’s questioning of No to AV’s cross-party status, the Guardian have reported that 42 out of 53 […]

  31. Tristan Snowsill

    RT @leftfootfwd: NO to AV: A campaign of the Tories, by the Tories, for the Tories http://bit.ly/ejZlPr

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