The Electoral Commission has confirmed that the law was broken by the Conservative Party in the 2015 general election (Conservatives fined record £70,000 for campaign spending failures, 16 March). Permitted expenses were exceeded in a significant number of marginal constituencies. Who broke the law, the Tory party centrally or the local constituency candidates and agents, is yet to be determined. We have already heard from some candidates and agents that a visit from the dreaded “battle bus” was imposed on them. However, whether or not those candidates and agents are criminally liable, the results in those constituencies in which expense limits were exceeded are unsound, and the MPs “elected” must be removed immediately and byelections called. Unless there is evidence of local complicity, there would be no reason to block the sitting member from being a candidate in a byelection.
• The last Labour government legislated to try and prevent scandals over political donations by requiring transparency concerning them. It also aimed to provide for a level playing field in elections by imposing a cap on national expenditure while preserving existing rules covering constituency spending. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act of 2000 has been shown by recent events to be unfit for purpose. Too much power remains with a handful of major donors. The potential ambiguity between national spending and constituency spending rules has further…