Voskhod instruments by Tom Royal on Flickr
Valentina Tereshkova with Vostok 6 by Tom Royal on Flickr
Voskhod Capsule by Tom Royal on Flickr
Chartwell by Tom Royal on Flickr
Chartwell by Tom Royal on Flickr
Heron by Tom Royal on Flickr
Highgate Cemetery by Tom Royal on Flickr
Highgate Cemetery by Tom Royal on Flickr
Highgate Cemetery by Tom Royal on Flickr
Highgate Cemetery by Tom Royal on Flickr

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Lewisham East Candidate Expenses

July 20th, 2010

You’ve probably seen Channel 4’s report on campaigning expenses, and Zac Goldsmith’s rather bizarre attempt to ignore every rule of media training in addressing the allegations made against his campaign. In any case, once he did finally turn to the matter at hand, one of Mr Goldsmith’s key arguments seems to be that the methods he used in his campaign – apportioning a percentage of costs for signs bearing his name and face to council elections, for example – are standard and have been used across the country. At the very end of the interview he even notes, of the Electoral Commission:

“Or they’ll look at it and find something wrong. In which case, we’ll need a repeat general election, because the rules that I adhered to are the same as the rules for other MPs”.

This doesn’t entirely make sense – as if he has adhered to the rules there’ll be nothing for the commission to rule against – but the point’s clear. Apparently every MP out there has been apportioning some costs off to local elections, leaving their short campaign expenses within the limits.

Only one way to find out, then.

As Mr Goldsmith claimed to have taken advice from Conservative Central Office, I figured it was worth checking the Short Campaign expenses of our local Conservative candidate, Jonathan Clamp. And, just to see if the other parties might be up doing the same sort of thing, I also checked the records for his opponent – Labour candidate, and now MP, Heidi Alexander.

The Short Campaign expenses limit in Lewisham East for the General Election 2010 was £7,150 plus 5p per elector. I took the electorate figure of 64,880 from the Lewisham council website, making this £10,394.40. Interestingly both candidates had worked to different figures, based on different numbers of voters, but not by much – we all believed the limit to be around £10,400 to £10,600. So, what did they spend?

Jonathan Clamp

In Mr Clamp’s case, it’s all rather simple. His expenses were neatly tallied up with receipts, and having spent around £400 on advertising and £7225 on direct mail his total was barely above £8,000. Should anyone wish to check I’ve created a PDF of his short campaign expenses here – note that I’ve redacted his home address from the one document where it appears. There are a few costs on the print receipts not included in the Short Campaign tally, but those were all accounted for in his Long Campaign expenses (examined, but not reproduced here). So far, so good.

Heidi Alexander

It might be argued that, as a third candidate in what is largely a two-horse race between Labour and the Lib Dems, Mr Clamp had little incentive to really push his campaign as hard as possible. So, I checked Heidi Alexander’s expenses also. Again, I’ve created a PDF of the short-run receipts, which you can download here. I’ve redacted Ms Alexander’s home address, her website username and a few bank account details from some receipts, and skipped the inside pages of BT phone bills.

These are rather more tricky to check, with hand-written documents and more receipts. The summary page lists a total spend of just under £6,000 – even less than Mr Clamp – although looking at the Spending Breakdown you can see that many items are marked with an “amount paid” significantly greater than the “value of item” that was included in this total.

In some cases this disparity makes sense, as for example it appears that £200 of a £400 sum paid for balloon gas was a deposit, but it’s not always as clear. Nonetheless, assuming the worst case scenario – that the entire Amount Paid should have been accounted for in every case – the total expended works out at £9190.03, which is still some way below the maximum.

And that’s it – a lot of ink and a few badly photocopied receipts, but not much else. I look forward to seeing what the people checking other constituencies come up with, not to mention what the Electoral Commission decides with regard to Mr Goldsmith’s signs.

Election graphs revisited

May 8th, 2010

I never did hear back from Simon Nundy about his campaign’s dodgy use of graphs with misleading titles. But look, I made him a new one from the 2010 results:

Obviously I took the results from Hackney because, you know, they make the point better. But it still works, right?

Simon Nundy has his graph backwards

May 4th, 2010

Simon Nundy is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of Lewisham. On his website you’ll find this graph:

Eagle eyed Lewisham residents will note, of course, that there was no Lewisham Mayoral election in 2008. The last was in 2006. More importantly, that election saw the Lib Dems come in second (18,889) behind Labour (25,129), with the Tory candidate languishing in third (10,790). The Green Party did pretty well, too, coming in fourth with 7168. Full results here.

The figures in Mr Nundy’s graph are from the 2008 London Mayoral Election, where it was a two horse race between Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone – a rather different set of circumstances. So here we have a clear attempt to pass off one set of figures as another in an attempt to woo tactical anti-Labour votes away from the Lib Dems. Perhaps the idea is that we Lewisham voters won’t be bright enough to spot the trick.

I’ve emailed Mr Nundy to ask for his comments – but then Brockley Central picked up on this a few days ahead of me and they’ve heard nothing yet.

It’s also important to note that it seems the Conservative party isn’t the only one publishing some rather unusual graphs around here. Green Party candidate Darryl Chamberlain pointed out that Greenwich Labour appear to be up to some funny business in Peninsula Ward.

Vote Hunter

December 10th, 2009

Boris and Hunter

Pictured: a personable but slightly dim creature with impressively fluffy hair, left, and my cat Hunter.*

One of the great benefits of the internet is being able to keep in touch with political developments as they happen – whether they be the pre budget report or, yesterday morning, a GLA plenary session on transport policy. One of the great annoyances of life, on the other hand, is listening to Boris ‘bendy buses kill more cyclists’** Johnson and his ass-backward opinions on the various merits of public transport.

In fact, listening to Boris on public transport (the only time you’ll see those four words together outside a photo opportunity right there, folks) is, as I realised, as frustrating as watching a cat attempt to operate a washing machine. And substantially less cute.

It’s not even a matter of failed election promises, although a quick glance back through his transport manifesto does produce some gems – “halting the proposed Tube ticket office closures“, anyone? – because, after all, Boris wasn’t elected on the basis of his what he planned to do. He was elected because London’s suburban voters recognised him as that funny bloke with the floppy hair off the telly. Personality over policies.

And on that note, meet Hunter.

Hunter is one of my two cats***. Like Boris, he has a mop of fluffy hair and, like Boris, he is either a little bit dumb or, very possibly, an evil genius simply pretending to be that way in order to ingratiate himself with fools. Like Boris he has no sensible policies on any issue facing London or Londoners, but has a few irrational dislikes (bin bags) and prejudices (Whiskas, not Felix) and knows how to play to his audience.

Hunter has not, however, published racist drivel, or, for that matter, written any of the same. Nor has he offended the people of Liverpool.

And so, assuming Boris stands again in 2012, I’d like Hunter to run for Mayor of London. In order to officially enter he’ll need 330 signatories from around the city, which could be tricky, and a £10,000 deposit, which is frankly never going to happen. Which is a shame, because he could probably do a better job. Should you care to back him, there is what I believe constitutes a “Interweb 3.11 for Workgroups social media twampaign”, or something like that, on Twitter here: #VOTEHUNTERFORMAYOR.


* Photo by Adam Procter, CC licensed, original here.

** Fans of statistics may be interested to note that no they really really fucking do not.

*** His brother, Ralph H Cat, Esq, has no interest in provincial politics and intends to seize power as evil overlord of the universe sometime next April.

Blame game

November 8th, 2008

Worth reading as a sidebar to the post-election fallout: first this – Ana Marie Cox interviews Nicolle Wallace on the most elegant way to lie under a bus – then this, where as predicted the Republican right begins to indulge in an orgy of self destruction and blame, much of which is directed towards Ms Wallace.