Labour face rigging charge on election reform

A government-backed reform to Britain’s electoral rules due to be debated in the Commons today has provoked accusations of election rigging from the Conservatives.

“The Labour party is so desperate to cling on to power they are attempting to gerrymander the election, by rigging election rules in their favour,” said shadow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

Under current law, both MPs and parliamentary candidates have a set spending limit of £11,000, which is triggered by a general election being called.

Under the reforms contained in today’s political parties and elections bill, candidates would have to abide by the limit for the entirety of the time they are campaigning – even if it is years before the potential election. MPs would continue under the previously existing system.

The reform would clearly benefit incumbents in marginal constituencies, but it also goes some way towards evening up the financial playing field between the immensely well-funded Tories and Labour, whose finances are in a dire state.

The government’s own impact assessment admits that “this proposal is most likely to affect candidates in marginal seats”.

“For a governing party to attempt to fiddle the election has the hallmarks of a banana republic rather than the mother of parliaments,” Mr Maude added.