Do whatever it takes to make elections fair

Tory chairman swipes at reporter's phone when pressed about expenses scandal Tory chairman swipes at reporter's phone when pressed about expenses scandal
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During David Cameron’s benighted Tory leadership he was notorious for disregarding the voluntary party and appointing cronies and second-raters to run Central Office. The chickens are now coming home to roost.

A failure to include the cost of national campaigns in local ones led to the Electoral Commission fining the Tories £70,000 for breaking regulations in 2015. The deputy treasurer, Simon Day, has been referred to the police – though why not Andrew Feldman, his Cameron-crony boss in charge of compliance?

A Conservative 'battle bus' of the kind which is at the heart of the campaign spending row

The police also interviewed Craig MacKinlay, who beat Nigel Farage in Thanet South, for six hours. His campaign spent within £178 of the legal limit; that did not count the salaries and hotel bills of Central Office staff sent to ensure Mr Farage lost.

This could get worse, with elections declared void and the Government, with its slim majority, facing by-elections. If Mr Farage runs, he may do so under the banner of a new movement replacing Ukip. It is crucial elections are fair: if that means senior figures going to jail, so be it.

Grammar schools must not lower standards for poor kids

It is suggested that pupils from poor backgrounds be set a lower mark to enter a grammar school, to overcome the unfairness of wealthier parents hiring tutors for their children to pass the 11-plus.

May: I want Britain to be the great meritocracy of the world May: I want Britain to be the great meritocracy of the world
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There is no point in grammar schools if some children struggle to keep up there, so that is nonsense: and the sooner we learn that it is a form of child abuse to condemn children with good brains to bad schools, the better. Establishing grammar schools in very deprived areas will ensure poorer children get a better chance – most existing schools are in middle-class areas. But schools should regulate admission using an intuitive reasoning test, such as many top public schools now use to govern entry, and which are tutor-proof.

Above all, if parents want to give their children more chance of success, they should encourage them from an early age to be intellectually curious – which costs nothing.

 

Decent men should not face legal bills

It is outrageous that Kenneth Hugill, the 83-year-old farmer who commendably shot a burglar, should face a £30,000 legal bill, having been acquitted.

Something similar happened to Nigel Evans, the Tory MP left with a £100,000 bill after his acquittal on sex charges. He was forced to hire expensive lawyers after the CPS used top Old Bailey counsel to try to ensure his conviction.

Judges must have the discretion in such cases to order the Crown to pay the costs, recovering the money by larger fines on real criminals. It might also teach them not to prosecute decent men like Mr Hugill at all.

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