Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Utter denial

What was that I was saying about "pig-headed arrogance"? Over on Red Alert, Labour MP Damien O'Connor, commenting on Labour being referred to police for violating electoral advertising rules, asks:

I thought we lived in a free democracy. Since when did a sign become illegal when expressing an opinion or encouraging people to act? Does this ban all signs at marches that may in any way be linked to a movement or political party. The EC needs to pull their heads in. This is not the 1930s in Europe.
In response to the first bit: it's not illegal. What's illegal is publishing an electoral advertisement without a promoter statement. And that's been illegal since 1977, and has been re-enacted in every update of electoral legislation since (including the Electoral Act 1993, and the Electoral Finance Act).

This isn't a new law; it has been an uncontentious part of our political landscape for decades. Even the much-reviled Exclusive Brethren obeyed it in their smear ads (which is why they were uncovered). What's new is the insistence of one of our major parties that it does not apply to them. And I do not think that that is acceptable.