|Thank G-d for the Conservative Party! A party which until recently had lost all direction, most of its supporters and the middle ground has taken a principled stand on an issue that effects us all.
Conservatives will today attack provisions buried in the Government's Electoral Administration Bill, which has its Second Reading in the Commons this afternoon, to lower the threshold for losing deposits in Parliamentary elections. This will give a boost to extremist parties like the BNP in obtaining freepost mailings and election broadcasts. The small print reveals the Government is to legislate to return deposits (currently £500) when candidates win just 2% of the vote, compared to 5% at present.
Analysis by Conservatives has revealed that in the 2005 general election, this measure would have saved the BNP a total of £36,500, allowing them to nominate candidates in a further 73 constituencies. Candidates in Parliamentary elections receive a freepost mailing sent to every voter, funded by the taxpayer. In addition, by nominating in at least one sixth of the seats up for election (88 in England), parties also receive Party Election Broadcasts on television and radio. The more parts of the UK that parties run in, their eligibility widens for broadcasts on Channel 4, Five and commercial radio.
Oliver Heald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, said:
"At a time when there is growing concern about the rise of extremist parties, it beggars belief that the Labour Party wants to lower the hurdles for the far-left and far-right to receive freepost mailings and election broadcasts in Parliamentary elections.
"In our democracy, allowing extremists to run for election is a necessary evil. But checks and balances should exist to prevent the system of free mailings and broadcasts being abused. Lowering the threshold will help the likes of the BNP spread their repugnant propaganda courtesy of the taxpayer, despite the fact that their racist views do not carry public support. Conservatives will be vigorously opposing these flawed and dangerous proposals in Parliament."
Oliver Heald MP