Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has raised concerns about the government’s plans for the future of the Electoral Commission in the House of Commons. Media reports have suggested that the Conservatives may seek to scrap the independent body, after a number of investigations and charges over the party’s election practices.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Would the Committee Member agree with me that while we can probably all think of occasions where we disliked adjudications from the Electoral Commission, the fact that the governing party clearly want to be rid of it is an indication that probably it is doing rather a good job?”
Responding, the Committee member, Christian Matheson MP, said:
“The track record of the Electoral Commission is one in which over 500 adjudications have been made, five have been challenged in court and only one of those challenges has been upheld. So far as that works out, I think that record stands on its own two feet.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr Carmichael added:
“Independent regulation can often be uncomfortable for those who are under its scrutiny. That is why it is so vital to defend. If those in power wish to dismantle the non-partisan Electoral Commission then that is all the more reason to defend it.
“In a time of social media misinformation and regulation struggling to keep up, we need to be enhancing and reinvigorating the remit of the Electoral Commission rather than seeking to undermine it. Free and fair elections are underpinned by independent scrutiny.”