Green leadership candidates breached election rules
The Returning Officer of the Green Party has ruled that two of the candidates for party leader, and two of the candidates for deputy, have breached election rules.
The four candidates out of a total of eight candidates sent a joint mailing to party members. However, most of these leaflets failed to make clear that they were printed by the candidates, and that this was not an official mailing from the party. Because this was a joint mailing from a number of candidates, and because the publications inside were designed to look like the official election mailing, “I have concluded that some members could have misinterpreted these mailings as in some way ‘official’ additional mailings”, wrote the Returning Officer. It is hard to escape the suspicion that this mailing was calculated to appear like it was the official mailing and that the candidates who didn’t have material included in it had failed to participate. It is difficult to understate how damaging that totally false impression is to the campaigns of Peter Crainie, Romayne Phoenix, Alexandra Phillips and Will Duckworth.
The candidates against whom these complaints were made were Natalie Bennett, Pippa Bartolotti, Richard Mallander, and Caroline Allen. Some have speculated that the group teamed up because they believed that Peter Cranie and Alexandra Phillips are front runners for the posts, and they wished to work together to catch them.
The candidates who kept to the rules have had to rely on hand delivery of their campaign materials, putting them at a significant disadvantage in the election. We can only hope that the Green Party will rectify this by paying for a mailing to all members containing election materials from the candidates who obeyed the rules. To do otherwise is to reward rule-breaking in the most serious election the Green Party has ever conducted.
The full ruling is below:
Following complaints received from members, I have made the following rulings relating to a mailing sent by some candidates for the posts of Leader and Deputy Leader in the current elections to the Green Party Executive.
There are five rulings in total.
All members are encouraged to read these rulings before casting their vote.
Ruling 1 – on the absence of imprint on leaflet from Richard Mallender
On a leaflet circulated to members (Richard Mallender for Deputy Leader), there is no imprint indicating who printed it, who caused it to be printed and on behalf of whom it was printed. It is therefore in breach of section 4.2.4 of the election regulations.
Ruling 2 – on the absence of full imprint on leaflet from Caroline Allen
On a leaflet circulated to members (Vote Caroline Allen for Deputy Leader), the imprint indicates who published and promoted the leaflet but not who printed it and is therefore in breach of section 4.2.4 of the election regulations.
Ruling 3 – on the absence of imprint on leaflet from Pippa Bartolotti
On a leaflet circulated to members (Pippa Bartolotti: Why I’m running for leader of the Green Party of England and Wales), there is no imprint indicating who printed it, who caused it to be printed and on behalf of whom it was printed. It is therefore in breach of section 4.2.4 of the election regulations.
Ruling 4 – on the absence of imprint on covering leaflet included in shared mailings by Natalie Bennett, Pippa Bartolotti, Caroline Allen, Richard Mallender
On a leaflet circulated to members (Dear Green Party member, You are receiving this mailing as part of the election of the posts of leader and deputy leader.), there is no imprint indicating who printed it, who caused it to be printed and on behalf of whom it was printed. It is therefore in breach of section 4.2.4 of the election regulations.
Ruling 5 – on whether shared mailings by some or all of Natalie Bennett, Pippa Bartolotti, Caroline Allen and Richard Mallender indicate candidates running a joint campaign
Members have received mailings containing leaflets from some or all of the candidates named above, along with the covering leaflet referred to in ruling 4 (above). Following investigations into the content, circulation and producion of these shared mailings, and in line with clarifications and advice given to the campaign teams of some of the candidates involved in these mailing and the same advice given to other candidates who enquired of the ERO about the boundaries between sharing resrouces or volunteers and formally becoming a joint campaign, I do not find these mailings to be evidence of a joint campaign team operating for either Pippa Bartolotti and Richard Mallender or Natalie Bennett and Richard Mallender (being the only combinations that could stand as jiont candidates under the internal election regulations).
However, in the light of ruling 4 (on the absence of an imprint on the covering note for these mailings), I have concluded that some members could have misinterpreted these mailings as in some way ‘official’ additional mailings and would like to clarify to all members that the only official communications relating the Leadership Elections are the candidate booklet and ballot paper circulated with Green World, postings by the ERO to this site or the Green Party’s public website or emails from the ERO (including those sent via the members’ email newletter sent by the Internal Communications Co-ordinator). Any other communications should be assumed to be campaign communications.
sending out a joint mail out excluding some candidates may not be an attempt to decieve but the candidates are bit silly if they dont see thats how it would look. similarly missing of imprints looks unproffesional from candidates trying to project a proffesional image.
i really think if the candidates supporters donts see that they will lose at least some votes over this and plan accordingly and maybe apoligise then they look disrespectful to the returning officer. not a good quality in a candidate.
As a visitor to the fringe one has to wonder if ”volunteers” mind being paid so little as they’re always so polite and helpful!
The reason an imprint is so important is so it is obvious to the receiver who is responsible for compiling, printing and publishing a leaflet. This is a legal requirement to protect the candidate and the recipient.
So, if the same person were to be responsible for the production of supposedly separate and independent mailings, (which were only ‘sharing’ an envelope), then this would shed light on whether a group mailing was of mutual convenience or a ‘joint mailing’, with all that entails.
The fact is we don’t know who was responsible for all the unimprinted mailings and this should be investigated and it should be obvious why that fact should be of interest to voting members.
This, plus, the ‘official looking’ cover sheet, does not look good and we have to ask ourselves would our processes pass external scrutiny as we expect and often point the finger at others for not doing so?
I think not.
So the question is, was the lack on a imprints due to a”slight cock-up”, as Sue puts it, or because “this mailing was calculated to appear like it was the official mailing” as argued in the original post.
For those who didn’t get the mailing in the post, there was slip of paper with a big green party logo on it, which said “Dear Green Party member, You are receiving this mailing as part of the election of the posts of leader and deputy leader.” The four leaflets for each candidate were folded behind this.
As ruling 4 states this slip didn’t have an imprint, as was deliberately designed, in my opinion, to make the mailing look like an official communication. That is why the mailing seems to me to be more than a minor cock-up.
It would have been easy for that note to have said front and centre that this wasn’t an official mailing and was in fact part of these four candidates campaign, and carried an imprint to match. That is why I think the orginal post is right – it was an unfair and inappropriate tactic by these four candidates.
Whether or not you support the principle of allowing campaign mailouts is a separate issue, and one which has been previously debated at conference, I think. The key point here is that they didn’t breach any rules by organising a shared mailout – that was permitted within the rules – the only slight breach of rules was in failing to add an imprint, which I would again suggest is a minor cock up, and not part of any conspiracy cooked-up to undermine internal party democracy, as this article implies.
At a London regional level, when we’ve had internal selection processes for London Assembly lists, candidates have worked together to organise one joint mailout of campaign info, both to lower the costs and to avoid bombarding members with stuff. Arguably the extra leaflets were unnecessary, but within the rules of the contest they were permitted and most candidates, including Romayne, took part in that mailout.
correction to the above
Why we cant we stop written communication in GP elections from individuals or groups in favour of emails which would reach nearly all members and cost nothing. That would be more in line with green party principles
The idea of the rules is simple – to be fair to all candidates. Some candidates were seeking advantage from the mailing and had more funds than the others. Breaking the rules should be regarded equally serious for all candidates. Perhaps they did it as they thought Romayne Phoenix was the front runner.
Why we cant we stop written communication in elections from individuals or groups in favour of emails which would be available to nearly all candidates and cost nothing. That would be more in line with green party principles.
Good grief! Missing off an imprint is a stupid slip-up and they should have known better, but suggesting it was a serious attempt to mislead the membership is just plain silly! Stop smearing candidates who have clearly made an effort to ensure there’s a proper campaign.
Not sure about “The candidates who kept to the rules have had to rely on hand delivery of their campaign materials” – that may be true, but according to the Returning Officer’s ruling, teaming up for a mailout in that way did not break the rules. So there’s nothing to stop the other four doing so as well – the only thing they’d need to do differently is include mention of who printed it and on whose behalf. Am I right?
I would further argue that, while the rules should of course be respected, these ‘small print’ breaches themselves won’t probably make much difference. The mailout itself may make a difference; but the damage done by the breach of rules itself will indeed be “difficult to understate”…
Life is complicated enough without worrying about this… Took mailings at face value, that others could not afford them – bit sad, but I realise the state of the party’s finances.