Tower Hamlets Councillor Puru Miah (Labour, Mile End) has been roundly castigated in the Electoral Commission’s investigation into Momentum for failing to comply with political finance laws during the 2017 General Election. Momentum, a political organisation within the Labour Party that supports Jeremy Corbyn, has been fined £16,700.
The Electoral Commission states that the fines levied “reflect Momentum’s repeated revisions to their spending return, poor record keeping and failure to follow advice given by the Commission prior to the election.”
In response to a request for comment from LW Cllr. Miah said “I stand by my belief that Pizzas should be served free at the point of need. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs. #PizzaForTheMany”
The Electoral Commission determined that Momentum and Puru Miah, the then responsible person for Momentum as a recognised non-party campaigner at the 2017 general election, committed:
- One offence under section 98(4)(b) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) of failing, without reasonable excuse, to submit a post-poll donation report that was complete and accurate. The return omitted £22,958.46 of reportable donations. We have fined Momentum £2,700 for this offence
- One offence under section 98(4)(b) PPERA of failing, without reasonable excuse, to provide all required invoices with the spending return. We have fined Momentum £250 for this offence
- One offence under section 98(4)(b) PPERA of failing, without reasonable excuse, to submit a spending report that was complete and accurate. We have fined Momentum £12,150 for this offence
- One offence under section 99(1) PPERA of failing to provide the required declaration to accompany the post-poll donations report. We have fined Momentum £250 for this offence
The Commission’s full report on its investigation is available on its website.
The full statement by Cllr. Puru Miah and Momentum to the Electoral Commission report can be found here.
Cllr. Miah is currently employed as a Civil Servant in an unknown capacity at Thames Magistrates Court.
The Momentum statement is quite a wordy response which seems to make light of infringing electoral regulations – not a good approach for any political organisation in Tower Hamlets to take. Which Mayor was it that made the same mistake? Anyone remember his name?
Lots of excuses but few reasons
Here are some of the excuses (as opposed to reasons) given by Momentum for its errors:
- It is understandable that the Electoral Commission would investigate Momentum – we managed to do a lot with very little
- [Momentum] was a new organisation which at the time was less than two years old
- The level of detail required under the law was often comic
- These [electoral] laws only help big corporate donors who want to funnel dark money into our political system
- These offences are incredibly minor when compared with other political organisations.
- [Momentum] could not have been expected to know an election was coming
- Theresa May repeatedly stated that she was not going to call a snap election
Momentum might want to consider that not taking the Electoral Commission seriously is probably not a good plan as it will only make it a subject of much greater scrutiny in future. #justsaying