Latest attacks attempt to ‘undermine’ role of elections watchdog

Campaigners have called on the government to re-think proposals to reform the Electoral Commission after senior Conservatives launched a fresh attack on the elections watchdog [1].

The comments come as Senior Conservatives accused the Commission of ‘lobbying’ MPs after it produced a briefing on the proposed reforms that would see the Government handed powers to set the regulator’s priorities.

Elections experts warn that Government plans, set out in their Elections Bill, would pose a serious risk to the independence of the Commission and undermine its ability to provide proper scrutiny of parties and campaigners.

Commenting on the story Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said:

“This latest round of attacks on the Electoral Commission is yet another attempt to undermine the role of our independent elections watchdog.

“Far from protecting our elections, the government’s Elections Bill threatens to damage the integrity of our democratic processes. It poses a serious risk to the independence of the Electoral Commission – weakening our elections regulator at a time when it has never been more important.

“With our politics in near-permanent campaign mode, and more money than ever flooding into our politics, the importance of strong and independent scrutiny of parties and campaigners has never been more clear.

“The government’s proposals amount to a power grab – allowing it to direct the Commission, threatening its independence and raising serious questions about its ability to fulfil its role in protecting our elections from fraud and abuse. It’s no wonder that academics, civil society and campaigners have sounded the alarm about these dangerous plans.

“Ministers should instead look to recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life and wait to see the outcome the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry into the Commission and bring forward an agenda for reform that all parties can support. They must stop and rethink these plans now.”