Remember the Brexit “Battle Bus” with this slogan, “We send the EU £350 million a week lets fund our NHS instead Vote Leave”? It was powerful and “misleading” according to the UK Statistics Authority. Mr Farage referred to it as a “mistake”.
No! “The number plastered on the side of the Brexit bus was a big fat lie.”
It was not a mistake because it affected the “Brexit” result the way Mr Farage wanted.
In short, we were misled and those who subverted our democracy with this deception have gone unpunished. Therefore it will happen again to further diminish democracy.
Last month the CPS announced that there would be no criminal charges brought against 14 MPs over their expenses in the 2015 election. In March 2017, The Electoral Commission fined the Conservative Party a record £70,000 for “numerous failures” in reporting expenses for the 2015 General Election. For that election the Conservatives raised some £38, 000,000.
Their fine for gaining an unfair advantage in winning the 2015 election is 0.01842105% of their £38 million “war Chest”. An inconsequential punishment and a ballot box bargain!
In short, there is no effective discouragement of the financial subversion of our democracy. Whether it was accidental or deliberate matters not. What matters is the harm done to our democracy and the acceptance of such harm to our democracy.
This CPS decision also undermines our legal system. It stated “- it is clear agents were told by Conservative Party headquarters that the costs were part of the national campaign and it would not be possible to prove any agent acted knowingly or dishonestly. Therefore we have concluded it is not in the public interest to charge anyone referred to us with this offence.”
In short, the CPS establishes the precedent that if your [political?] boss tells you to do something illegal and you do it, then no one will be prosecuted.
The BBC Trust ruled that “BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg breached the BBC’s impartiality and accuracy guidelines by editing film so that Mr Corbyn appeared to answer one question when he was, in reality, answering another. The Trust found this inaccuracy was “compounded” when she went on to state that Jeremy Corbin’s message “couldn’t be more different” from that of David Cameron. The Trust also found that there was no evidence of bias or intent on the part of the journalist.
Even without bias or intent this is a fundamental abuse of trust and professionalism for either there was no need to change the film or, if there were, that fact could and should have been stated.
James Harding, the director of BBC News, stated, “While we respect the Trust and the people who work there, we disagree with this finding.”
In short, the head of BBC News is content with his viewers being presented with information that “was not duly accurate”, as the Trust said “with a critical question at a time of extreme national concern.”
Perhaps this election is about more than winning seats. Perhaps it is also about our speaking up, and possibly more, to make our country safe and healthy for democracy?
* Steve Trevathan is chairperson of Lyme Regis and Marshwood Vale Liberal Democrats.