A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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If you can't win, change the rules
18/07/2008 16:18:00

Since I was selected as the Conservative candidate for Croydon Central back in February, I have knocked on literally thousands of doors across the constituency to introduce myself to people and ask what issues they are concerned about. The vast majority of the people I have spoken seem to have appreciated me making the effort, whatever their political persuasion.

Yesterday, the Government announced that it wants to stop me doing this. It also wants to stop me sending out surveys asking the people I aspire to represent what they are concerned about or delivering leaflets telling people what I have been doing. And it wants to close down this website.

Given the standing of politicians, you might have thought that the Government would want to encourage MPs and candidates to make themselves more visible. At the very least, you might have thought that they would have more important things to do than banning this kind of activity, like tackling the rising tide of youth crime or the crisis in the housing market. If you read on, you'll understand why, from the Government's perspective, stopping people like me communicating with you is about as important as it gets.

First, in the interests of balance, let me explain their side of the story. You can read their press release here but to summarise they want to stop candidates spending too much money by introducing a system where a candidate's election expenses would start the moment they identified themselves as a candidate. The limit on election expenses is such that this would prevent people identifying themselves as candidates until the General Election is called. However MPs would continue to be able to use their Communications Allowances (ie tax-payers' money) to promote what they are doing. So the effect of this legislation would be to give a huge advantage to sitting MPs at the next Election - they can spend the next two years promoting themselves while their challengers have to wait until the last month. And which party currently has a majority of MPs? Now you see why this is top of the Government's priorities. They've given up all hope of winning the Election so they've decided to change the rules.

PS It's also worth pointing out that when they were able to raise more money than the Conservatives, Labour didn't have a problem with political parties spending lots of money. Of course now they're virtually broke things are different...

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Gavin Barwell, House of Commons, SW1A 1AA, Tel  020 8660 0491      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG