Peter Rhodes: It's not a one-party crime

Peter Rhodes: Election spending, Scottish politics and more creeping fivers.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will visit Moscow in the coming weeks
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will visit Moscow in the coming weeks

AFTER a reader complained about the tendency of the new £5 note to creep out of his shirt pockets, another reader informs me that no gentleman would ever dream of wearing a shirt with a pocket. What is the etiquette these days?

THERE is, of course, guidance on the internet on this burning issue. One contributor complains about the smallness of his shirt pocket: “I cannot fit my slide-rule in there.” A slide rule, for gawd's sake? It is a reminder that some stuff on the web is getting very old.

ELECTIONS should be fought on a level playing field and if electoral-spending rules have been broken by Tories, then Tory heads must roll. However, this is not a one-party crime and the £70,000 fine imposed on the Tories a few days ago is not unique. Labour was fined £20,000 for undeclared election spending in the 2015 campaign and I don't recall the media making much of a fuss about it. Incidentally, when Labour was fined last October, a party spokesman said: “Labour has co-operated fully with the Electoral Commission.” When the Tories were fined last week a party spokesman said the party had “complied fully with the Electoral Commission’s investigation.” They pinch each other's policies. They pinch each other's excuses.

THE unspoken assumption in the election-expenses row is that importing a load of Whitehall's finest into your constituency gives you some sort of electoral advantage. Imagine this. You are a Tory candidate fighting a marginal seat. It's winnable, but only just. And then your phone rings. It is Conservative HQ with the message: “Boris will be arriving in the battle bus tomorrow.” Does your heart leap, or sink? Would you actually pay out of your own fighting fund to keep Boris away?

I SUGGESTED last week that when the authorities crushed a lorry belonging to a pair of fly-tippers, it would have been a good idea to leave the tippers inside. A reader very sensibly points out that a crushed lorry containing two squashed scallies would constitute “contaminated waste” and would cost the taxpayers a fortune to deal with. Damn the small print.

“TWO squashed scallies.” Try saying that quickly.

I PROMISE to ration myself on Scottish politics. I find it all fascinating but it is the one subject guaranteed to turn off my Sassenach readers. I have had many emails and messages about last week's items on fly-tipping and dog poo but not a word from anyone about Scotland's referendum row. As far as most English are concerned, Scotland is a far-away country of which they know little, and care less. It is somewhere they may visit once or twice in a lifetime. It irritates the hell out of the Scots but the truth is that millions of English families are more familiar with Alicante or Orlando than they are with Scotland.

A GUARDIAN website announces proudly: “I'm doing a PhD on the subject of neoliberal statues.” Which gives a new twist to an old joke. What do you say to someone with a PhD on the subject of neoliberal statues? “Big Mac, please.”

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Comments for: "Peter Rhodes: It's not a one-party crime"

Olly the cat

Definition of an independent Scotland... An insignificant hilly bump in the top left corner of Europe.


I listened to a BBC Today report on the Electoral Commission fining the Tories for spending irregularities. A Commission spokesperson said they had had to take out an injunction to get the information requested. So that "complied fully with the Electoral Commission’s investigation" was after a degree of legal arm twisting.


More likely to be to do with the Data Protection Act, I suspect.


Just in case Scotland does get its independence, it would be a good idea to start making whisky in England.


You can't make whisky in England. But whiskey is made in England.


I would like to say that my fellow Scots are unique and in many ways we are, but when it comes to modern politics they are just they same as every other nation. The politicians ignore the public and keep asking the same question until they get the answer they want and then ignore any challenge to that answer. As for 'wee Birnie' she is desperate to stop herself and her party from becoming irrelevent as everything she pedicted re oil wealth etc has failed and the Scots are now realising what dire straights Scotland would have been in had they won the vote for independence.

Pembrokeshire Wolf

Breaking the electoral-funding rules is not a one-party crime. So that mas it OK then!

Pembrokeshire Wolf

Sorry, I meant "makes it OK"