Trick or treating? That free-not-free-lunch puzzle solved

The Wapping Mole has only a very small brain, great for digging but not much else, so Moley was completely baffled by our story about potential voters apparently not being charged for a lunch for which there was a £25 ticket price by mayoral candidate Ohid Ahmed.

Big brain person

Fortunately there are lots of human beings with big brains in Tower Hamlets and one of them was kind enough to ring Moley on the Mole Line and explain.

Watch out! The Wapping Election Rule Police Witch is about!

“If people are charged for the meal it is a fund raiser, if they are not charged for a meal then it is treating,” said our helpful large brain person.

Treating? Wossat?

Here’s the Electoral Commission definition of this offence.


A person is guilty of treating if either before, during or after an election they directly or indirectly give or provide any food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting. Treating requires a corrupt intent – it does not apply to ordinary hospitality.”

Summary of electoral offences (PDF)

It’s ok, lunch is covered

It is safe to assume that lunch is covered by this definition. (Not that we are saying it is treating of course.)

Seems most people call treating bribery. The reason it is called treating is because this is a specific electoral offence designed to stop politicians from treating people with, well, a treat instead of some cash.

This would also explain the numerous rumours Moley has heard of some people being offered new washing machines in exchange for their vote!

Put some political spin on that one! Geddit? No? Oh well.

If you have been offered a washing machine in exchange for your vote, or indeed a spin dryer, please get in touch and let us know details of the spin cycle.

Vote for the Washing Machine Party!

But Moley is still not 100% clear on this whole free-not-free-lunch thing. Luckily for him one of our many kind supporters sent us this explanation:

“A party might be going to accept large cash/in kind donations from the usual suspects who want to remain anonymous (and/or are not permissible donors)

Because they were caught out last time, this time they are going to attempt to disguise this by pretending the money comes from sham fundraising events. So they will eventually submit accounts and claim everything is legit, but in fact it’s just as dodgy as before.”

Sounds about right.

LW Comment

Business as usual in Tower Hamlets. What – you are surprised?

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