Lincoln MP responds to Conservative Party election expenses allegations

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney has insisted he and his party complied with 2015 general election laws, while suggesting other organisations have attempted to smear Conservative candidates and their colleagues.

As previously reported, Lincolnshire Police are carrying out “general enquiries” into allegations of irregularities in general election spending by the Conservative Party.

Particular attention has been brought to the Conservative Party’s “BattleBus 2015” campaign, which saw activists bussed to 29 marginal constituencies in England, including Lincoln.

Photo: Nic Gould

Photo: Nic Gould

McCartney has supported Conservative Party HQ’s statement that the bus should be counted as part of the national spend, not the spending by local candidates, and said that he has “pro-actively” provided information to police to help with their enquiries.

He has also accused “those with limited knowledge of election law” of an attempted smear the reputation of fellow Conservative politicians, candidates and their agents.

McCartney said: “My election expense return for the 2015 general election was completed and returned by my election agent in accordance with election law.

“The party’s national bus tour was authorised and paid for by the Conservative Party nationally, was intended to promote the party’s success in the general election, and therefore did not form part of my local election expenses.

“Both I and my agent received clear and concise advice, as did my colleagues across the country, that this was in line with previous elections and is exactly how other political parties declare similar expenses, and have done for some time.

“We have pro-actively provided this information we received to Lincolnshire Police on hearing that today they have confirmed to the media that they ‘…are carrying out some general enquiries.’

“It is of great concern that despite this clear advice, with no attempt at all to hide any election expense at either a local or national level by the Conservative Party at any time, and the fact that the national Conservative Party told myself and fellow candidates they would be including this, and did, in their national return, that those with limited knowledge of election law have been smearing the reputation of various politicians, candidates and their agents.”

The MP, who defeated Labour’s Lucy Rigby by 1,443 votes in 2015, turned his attention to the campaigns of “the Labour Party and their trade union cronies”.

“As is well known, Lincoln Labour bussed in activists from across the East Midlands and London to Lincoln at various times in the 18 months prior to May 2015 and also enjoyed visits by Ed Miliband and buses full of students from Leicester and the Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman’s pink bus too.

“None of the costs for these appeared in their local expenses return.

“It should be no surprise therefore that Labour at a national and local level have been keeping quiet about this issue, and if any investigations are taken of particular candidates then all the candidates’ expense returns in each of those constituencies should be examined and compared and contrasted as well.

I have seen all the candidates’ expense returns in my constituency, and am very clear that ours are in order and compare very favourably to those of the other parties that stood in Lincoln.

“Labour’s election expense return looks as though it has been written on the back of a cigarette packet and lacks any detail whatsoever. They treat electoral law with utter contempt, which for those of us who know how they operate, is not unexpected.

“As for Scotland, if ‘buses’ are now to be included in local election expense returns then one would expect that helicopter tours to campaign in SNP seats should be included locally as an expense as well.”