Monday, 8 March 2010

Now it's Labour's turn!

In the past couple of weeks in Darlington we've had local government officers using Council equipment and paper to produce a flyer promoting the Labour Party's General Election candidate to teachers at a training event, and we've had the Conservatives distributing - and continuing to distribute despite warning - an election leaflet for their candidate which doesn't contain a legal "Published by..." imprint.

Now Labour are at it again. The latest edition of the Little Red Rosette, Mark Burton's excellent community newsletter promoting himself as a Labour Councillor in Harrowgate Hill, carries a full page advertisement for Jenny Chapman, the Labour Candidate, plus two other pages devoted to an interview with her and another photo on the front page. Since the candidate took part in an interview for the purposes of this publication, she would have known that this was going to be distributed in Harrowgate Hill ward, as, presumably, did her agent.

Yet nowhere does a legal imprint appear. This is a Labour Party publication, advertising and promoting the election of a Labour Party candidate and, as such, the following rule applies:

"Election material must carry an imprint with details of the full name and full postal address of the printer and promoter of the material. The name and address of any person on whose behalf the material is being published must also be included if this person is not the promoter."

The requirement in the first sentence above is adhered to and the leaflet states that it has been published and promoted on behalf of Mark Burton. Yet, since a significant proportion of it promotes Jenny Chapman, by law her name and a contact address should also have been included.

Don't the Conservative or Labour Parties know electoral law, or are they so arrogant that they think it doesn't apply to them. I don't suppose any action will be taken against either party, but the law is there for a good reason, and even the Labour Party are not above it.

Hat tip: GC


Mark Burton said...

Sorry to disapointed you Mike, but you're going to have to, not only eat your hat whilst taking a closer look for the imprint, but buy me several beers by way of an apology... :)

Mike Barker said...

It will, of course, be an absolute pleasure to buy you a drink, Mark.

Hopefully a couple of pints will improve my eyesight old son, because, for the life of me, I can't see where it says, "Published and promoted by Stephen J Harker on behalf of Jenny Chapman, both at 3-5 Bakehouse Hill, Darlington DL1 5QA"

Anonymous said...


Are you sure that it isn't until purdah or the election is announced that the imprint becomes a legal neccessity ?

Mike Barker said...

There is now a "long campaign" and a "short campaign", each with its own separate rules regarding election expenditure. We are now in the "long campaign" which started on January 1st. All expenditure incurred on behalf of a candidate during this period has to be accounted for and reported following the election.

As a result of this, we are all now Parliamentary Candidates, not "Prospective" Parliamentary Candidates. Electoral Law applies equally in both the long and the short campaign.

Maybe I'm being pedantic, but electoral law is absolutely clear: any literature published in support of a candidate must carry an imprint identifying the printer, the publisher/promoter and the name of the candidate, together with all their addresses.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was the printer and promoter only, as the person who might claim to be responsible for causing it to be produced would be the person who puts the regular newsletter together ?

Hope someone asked the agent though, as they tend to be a bit miffed if something is produced and distributed they haven't seen.

Discipline these days can be terrible... However, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Got to go now, as I'm up early in the morning.

Mike Barker said...

I don't want to appear overly pedantic or nit-picking about this, but electoral law is very clear:

"Election material must carry an imprint with details of the full name and full postal address of the printer and promoter of the material. The name and address of any person on whose behalf the material is being published must also be included if this person is not the promoter."

This is from:

So, as it says above, if election literature is being published on behalf of a candidate (ie in this case from Mark Burton, Jenny Chapman) it must carry her name and contact address, which can be that of her agent.

Clearly there are far more important things to concern ourselves with at the moment, but electoral law is there for a reason and people engaging in the election should adhere to it.

Anonymous said...

Pedantic would cover it. I don’t think Mark has produced anything negative nor is he trying to produce anything that he cannot be challenged over. Clearly you managed to identify whom the newsletter was produced by and any one else who would like to contact him, the publisher or the candidate would also be able to - there be tractability. The PDF you refer to is the ‘Electoral Commission guidance for candidates’. Guidance: being the process of guiding. And therefore, in my humble view, you do owe Mark several large pints!

Mark Burton said...

Hi Mike, I'll have to go along with what Anonymous said 'there be tractability'.

I know not all of the boxes are ticked, from the guidelines you’ve posted, but having said that - my little red rosette is not an electoral pamphlet, it’s more of a community newsletter/ bumper edition / candidate interview.

I thought you weren’t one for putting ticks in boxes any way?

So I do hope you have a pocket full of notes the next time I’m working a shift where I can come along to the Quakers for a little sample!

And thank you for doing your bit in promoting me and Jenny too, by providing the link to my newsletter lol :)


Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.....

I am shocked and alarmed at the apparent flouting of electoral law and conventions in this election. The law and conventions of governance i.e the separation between politicians and officers must be followed and must be obeyed.

If there is any doubt you dont proceed as has happened you firstly seek advice from the Council's legal team and then you act on it. That hasn't happened in these cases. Why is that?

Let the following quotation be a warning to anyone who thinks they can break or ignore the law. It comes from Lord Denning the distinguished former Master of the Rolls. Denning said "To every subject in the land, however powerful, I would use Thomas Fuller's words over three hundred years ago, 'be ye never so high the law is always above you.'"

Paul said...

Mike, check out this week's advertiser and Edward Legard's wraparound advert. No signs of any imprint once again.

Oh, and an appalling misuse of an apostrophe. If that's the standard of education we will see under the Tories, then the tiny chance of me voting for them has just flown out of the window.

Mike Barker said...

Right, that does it. No way am I voting Tory now.