by Martin Odoni

The Tories are clearly gearing up for a General Election. Theresa May probably sees it, however reluctantly, as the likeliest way out of the unending Brexit logjam at Westminster, as others have been warning since the last Election that it would be. I will not waste time going into the reasons why an Election is so necessary, as I imagine anyone who has not spent the last three years in seclusion on the moons of Neptune will have a more-than-passing familiarity with why. However, I wish to point out that the Tories are engaged in a form of Election cheating once again.

The indicators that a snap Election is imminent are three-fold.

Firstly, returning officers up and down the country have been put on standby.

Secondly, the Conservative Party has released a (very disingenuous) Party Political Broadcast (PPB).

Thirdly, Tory campaigners have started leafleting their constituencies.

Tory leafleting

Even in safe seats, the Tories are campaigning, a clear sign that a General Election is in the offing.

It is possible that if, by some miracle, May’s Brexit deal is not voted down next week (presumably while Tim Henman comes out of retirement to win Wimbledon later this year…), the dissolution of Parliament will not be called. But for the moment, these are the obvious clues that the Tories are ‘gearing up’.

But they are also clues that the Tories are trying to get around Election Expenses laws, which they have of course been in trouble for transgressing before. By campaigning before the Election is even announced, the leafleting and the PPB will not, they hope, be counted against the amount they officially invest as a party in the Election, allowing them to invest more than other parties while staying under the spending ‘cap’. The money counting only starts from the moment the Election is called.

This is yet another example therefore of the Tories using dirty tricks to get an unfair advantage on rival parties. Even though it is not, to the best of my knowledge, against the letter of electoral laws in this country, it is undoubtedly against the spirit of them.

The degree to which the Conservative Party resorts to these kinds of behaviours is amazing. Sure, other parties are guilty of dirty trickery from time-to-time as well. But the Tories do it so routinely and so instinctively that it belongs in a different world. It even gives the impression that the Tories are powerless to grasp that such conduct is wrong. They imagine that, so long as it helps them succeed and they do not get caught, cheating is justified.

They really should be called the Psychopaths’ Party.