On 14 September Mike Smith replies, having consulted in his own words “senior counsel”. He argues in some depth as to why the pledge card and brochure is not advertising. But before we turn to his arguments, they key things is his final paragraph where he offers to include the cost of the cards and brochures in Labour’s election return.
For reasons I will touch on in later posts, the issue of spending limits is far more important that correct authorisation statements. So the concession on including it in the election return is a major one. One they later withdrew. Yes they agreed before the election to include the cost, and then weeks later so “Oh we have changed our mind”.
Why would they do this? On 14 September you would know for sure if you can afford to include the cost in your return and stay under the limit. I suspect that they were terrified the CEO would announce he was referring Labour to the Police prior to the election. So perhaps they conceded on the election funding as a diversionary measure. The best way to find out would be for a journalist to ask Mike Smith why did he make the offer, when he must have known it would put Labour over the limit as Labour had not reduced its spending in other areas to sat under the total limit.