Monday, June 10, 2013

Wyre Forest by-elections - the blame game

Not the best of times for UKIP. With two members elected to the Worcestershire County Council within the Wyre Forest district one resigns due to comments they made on Facebook and the other dies. That means two new elections and while anyone's death is not a pleasant occurrence it's possible to learn from this experience regarding cost and blame for the by-elections.

A brief re-cap from comments made is the thought that UKIP should pay for the cost of holding the by-election due to the resignation of one of their members. On the face of it this seems perfectly reasonable - their candidate resigned due to actions the Party should have been aware of. In other words they shouldn't have fielded them as a candidate in the first place. This need for a by-election is 'their fault' so why should the council pay for it?

But what about the untimely death of their councillor; should UKIP have to pay for that by-election too? How exactly would this be written into law? How would the rules determining the running of an election place the burden?

We wouldn't want a Party to pay the costs if one of their councillors was run over and died for example; but what if said member had health issues and suffered a heart attack? Should the Party have been aware of them? It seems they need to be aware of the past actions of their members; are health screenings necessary too? How much vetting does a Party need to perform; how much can they not do. When fielding a candidate would each Party need to state that they believe there is no physical or moral impairment that would require their candidate not to serve their full term of office and be held liable for costs incurred should this event happen?

In this instance it can be said that the Party stated that this person represented their views despite the available evidence to the contrary and was fit enough to stand. Failure on this is either negligence or falsehood.  How would this hold for an Independent; exactly whose views do they represent? "I hereby sweat that the views I hold are the views I hold" is a tautology. All that remains is the physical section; perhaps that would be enough. Perhaps not.

If a Party backs a candidate, who becomes elected, and then switches Parties does the new Party take on the 'affirmation'. If a new election is called for due to this switch should it be the old Party who pays or the new one?

Annoyingly this is one of those seemingly easy questions that when forced into the exactitude the law would require suddenly displays its complexity.