Corbyn bandwagon Momentum in election spending probe
Jeremy Corbynâs Left-wing Momentum group today faced an investigation into whether it broke election spending rules.
The Electoral Commission announced an inquiry into the general election campaigning by the activist movement, which is loyal to the Labour leader.
The independent watchdog said questions about Momentumâs role ârisk causing harm to votersâ confidence in electionsâ.
Supporters of Mr Corbyn have boasted that the group played a critical role in dozens of key marginal seats by shipping in busloads of young activists.
It is largely credited with mobilising grassroot s support for Labour, which led to the party exceeding expectations in London and elsewhere in Juneâs snap election.
It declared election expenditure to the Commission amounting to Â£38,000.
The watchdog said the investigation will focus on whether Momentum, founded and led by veteran Left-winger Jon Lansman, over-spent during the campaign and whether it failed to return accurate donation information to the Commission.
Bob Posner, the Electoral Commissionâs director of political finance and regulation and legal counsel, said: âMomentum are a high-profile active campaigning body.
âQuestions over their compliance with the campaign finance rules at Juneâs general election risk causing harm to votersâ confid ence in elections. There is significant public interest in us investigating Momentum to establish the facts in this matter and whether there have been any offences.
âOnce complete, the Commission will decide whether any breaches have occurred and, if so, what further action may be appropriate, in line with its enforcement policy.â
The Electoral Commissionâs auditing of the data it received from Momentum triggered the investigation.
A Momentum spokesman said: âMuch of the Electoral Commission investigation refers to a series of administrative errors that can be easily rectified.
"Momentum put a lot of effort and resources into detailed budgeting and financial procedures during the election to ensure full compliance.
âOur election campaign was delivered on a low budget because it tapped into the energy and enthusiasm of tens of thousands of volunteers.
"We have a good working relationship with the Electoral Commission, and will fully comply with the investigation.â
As a non-party campaigning organisation Momentum could carry out âtargeted spendingâ of up to Â£31,000 in England, Â£3,540 in Scotland; Â£2,400 in Wales; and Â£1,080 in Northern Ireland between June 9, 2016, and June 8 this year, the day of the election. It could spend above this limit if Labour give it permission. This would count towards the partyâs national spending limit.
Momentumâs social media strategy, which included videos, is said to have been largely responsible for securing votes among young people. It also flooded London constituencie s to get Labour MPs elected.
The group also sent activists to campaign for Corbyn critics Wes Streeting in Ilford North and Neil Coyle in Bermondsey & Old Southwark and in both seats their majorities soared.
The party saw vast increases in the majorities of senior figures, including Mr Corbyn and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.
Responding to todayâs news, Mr Coyle said: âThis is another reason why Momentum should affiliate properly with Labour and not continue as a separate company run by one man.â
Last month, the Electoral Commission noted that Momentum had submitted spending details of Â£38,743.
The investigation comes as calls were made today for Labourâs general secretary to investigate the alle ged take -over of Haringey council by Momentum activists.
Moderate councillors were deselected en masse in a month-long battle and replaced with candidates backed by the group.
This could pave the way for the first Momentum-backed council in the country. Local party member Nora Mulready has written to General Secretary Iain McNicol to say that he must save the party from a take-over by the hard-Left.Source: Google News