Lexit: the Left Leave campaign has attacked as ‘petty, vindictive and disproportionate’ an Electoral Commission decision to fine the anti-EU campaign organisation £500 for late delivery of a financial return following last year’s EU referendum.
The commission has declared that it decided to impose the penalty as a ‘deterrent’, because it fears Lexit might repeat the offence in future.
‘One late return containing not a single new piece of financial information doesn’t begin to compare to the habitual financial skullduggery that characterises much of Britain’s political party funding’, Lexit convenor Alex Gordon commented.
Lexit raised and spent less than £8,000 during the EU referendum campaign, whereas other organisations registered with the Electoral Commission declared finances amounting to £31 million. The Lexit campaign organised and participated in a wide range of low-cost activities, calling for a ‘Leave’ vote on the grounds that the EU is an anti-democratic, pro-big business alliance of capitalist states with constitutional rules that demand permanent austerity and privatisation.
Mr Gordon pointed out the ‘absurd, grossly inaccurate and defamatory’ contents of the commission’s penalty notice served on the Lexit campaign.
‘In the same document, the Electoral Commission describes Lexit’s expenditure as “significant”, requiring a higher than minimum fine, and then “not of great significance” and thus not requiring the maximum’.
The notice also personally criticised Lexit chair Robert Griffiths for travelling abroad after the referendum result, thereby overlooking an email, and declared that he had no record of registration with the commission that might merit a smaller fine on grounds of previous compliance.
The Electoral Commission subsequently apologised for this personal attack after being forced to acknowledge that Mr Griffiths has been registered with the commission as General Secretary of the Communist Party for 15 years, during which time the party has never incurred any penalties or fines for non-compliance.
‘Despite its own errors, including mislaying Lexit returns and sending mail to the wrong address, the Electoral Commission refuses to withdraw or reduce the Lexit fine’, Mr Gordon said.
Lexit is therefore launching a £3,000 emergency appeal to cover its legal costs and continue campaigning for a ‘left-wing, internationalist alternative’ to the ‘racist, anti-working class, imperialist EU’. The group plans to distribute a new pamphlet on ‘The EU, Brexit and Class Politics’ free to all Trades Union Congress delegates in Brighton next month.
* Donations can be sent by cheque to ‘Left Leave’, Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd., Croydon CR0 1 BD or by bank transfer to Left Leave, Santander Bank, sort code 09-01-28, account no. 97078149.