Michael Crick, Channel 4 News’s political correspondent, has spent months investigating the Conservative Party’s election expenses from last year’s general election, focusing on the party’s “battle buses”, which moved activists around the country, and the associated costs incurred (e.g. hotels).
Last night’s programme featured another report, this time looking at the use of the buses in the South-West, where the Conservatives successfully targeted every one of the 14 seats held by the Lib Dems:
In response to Crick’s investigation, the Conservatives accepted that they had failed to declare some expenses for hotels due to what they termed an “administrative error”.
Yet the more fundamental question which the Electoral Commission is apparently investigating is whether the costs associated with the battle bus should properly have been accounted for on local rather than national expenses returns. The Tories insist that they should not, but if the Electoral Commission takes a different view it on the face of it could mean that in several constituencies, the Conservatives exceeded spending limits.