Referendum: voting problems won’t go away for Ukip and social media use

“Ukip is to face a tribunal over its use of analytics during the EU referendum after refusing to cooperate with an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO announced a formal investigation into how political parties use data analytics to target voters in response to concern about how social media was used during the referendum.

“We are concerned about invisible processing – the ‘behind the scenes’ algorithms, analysis, data matching, profiling that involves people’s personal information. When the purpose for using these techniques is related to the democratic process, the case for a high standard of transparency is very strong,” said Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, in an update on the ICO’s website.

Denham said more than 30 organisations, including AggregateIQ, a little-known Canadian firm that received millions of pounds from the leave campaign, were under scrutiny. While some were co-operating, she said, “others are making it difficult”.

She said that the ICO had issued four information notices, formally ordering organisations to disclose information, “including one to Ukip, who have now appealed our notice to the information rights tribunal”.

Separately the Electoral commission is investigating whether Vote Leave, the lead campaign for the leave vote in the referendum, broke spending laws by coordinating spending with other campaign groups.

A Ukip spokesman said the party was prepared to cooperate with the ICO, and was only appealing against a threat of criminal sanctions. “We’re perfectly happy to deal with them, but not under the threat,” he said.”

“Electoral Commission launches inquiry into leave campaign funding”

”Watchdog has ‘reasonable grounds to suspect offence was committed’ by Vote Leave, a student campaigner and another Eurosceptic group.

The watchdog will investigate whether Vote Leave, which was the officially designated Brexit campaign during the referendum, broke campaign finance rules.

Bob Posner, the commission’s director of political finance and regulation, said there were legitimate questions over the funding of campaigners which “risks causing harm to voters’ confidence in the referendum”.

The campaign, run by political strategist Matthew Elliott and former special adviser Dominic Cummings, will be investigated alongside Veterans for Britain and student activist Darren Grimes, now the deputy editor of the Brexit Central website, where Elliott is now editor-at-large.

The investigation has been opened after a review of previous assessments that the Electoral Commission conducted in February and March 2017, where it initially decided no further action was needed.

The commission said new information had since come to light which meant it had “reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed”.

Grimes and Veterans for Britain will be investigated as to whether he delivered an incorrect spending return in relation to a donation they received from Vote Leave and related campaign spending.

Vote Leave’s spending return will also be investigated, as well as whether the campaign breached its spending limit.

“There is significant public interest in being satisfied that the facts are known about Vote Leave’s spending on the campaign, particularly as it was a lead campaigner with a greater spending limit than any other campaigners on the ‘leave’ side,” Posner said.”

Voting processes need tightening (and scrutiny) urgently

Why shouldn’t our council’s Scrutiny Committee check in its Electoral and Returning Officer’s procedures – even if the Monitoring Officer doesn’t like the idea because it MIGHT be considered political (by him)? A clean bill of health would reassure voters surely?

“The list of Brexit campaigners done for breaking the rules is getting lengthy.

Following the record £12,000 fine for breaches of spending rules, the pair of £1,000 fines for other offences, the company fined £50,000 for illegal text messages and the 11 anti-EU campaign groups struck off for breaking referendum rules, there’s now another £1,500 fine on a different Brexit campaigner:

The Electoral Commission has fined Mr Henry Meakin, a registered campaigner in the EU referendum, £1,500 for failing to submit his spending return on time. It is an offence not to deliver a spending return by the due date.

Though Mr Meakin reported spending of £37,000 in the campaign, the return was received more than 5 months late.”

Nominative determinism and 22 MEPs who need to resign

How ironic (as Owl is sure many people will point out) that
the UKIP MEP who allegedly got into an altercation with another UKIP MEP (Stephen Woolfe tipped as yet another potential leader) is called Mike Hookem!

But also how shocking that these people – who have got what they want and despise the EU – should still be around the European Parliament, sponging off it.

On his website, Hookem says that he joined the party because he was committed to showing his constituents “what a corrupt and dictatorial system the European Union is and how many of the decisions taken by faceless, unelected bureaucrats, directly affect them”. As far as we know he has not complained about being paid by them.

Our UKIP MEP is William, Earl of Dartmouth, hardly short of a bob or two.

There are TWENTY TWO of them costing us millions of pounds a year which could better go to our NHS! AND their salaries have gone up 15% as they are paid in EUROS!

(Nominative determinism is the theory that a person’s name has some influence over what they do with their life).

Brexit: a desire to return to the old certainties of Budleigh Salterton!

A european academic writes:

“Last week’s referendum, in which middle-aged and elderly British citizens with a noticeably shaky grasp of economics, international affairs and foreign languages voted in large numbers for the UK to leave the European Union, represents a Quixotic collective impulse to return to the security and timeless certainties of Budleigh Salterton.

Britain, or at least the 52 per cent of voters who endorsed the call to quit the EU, is demanding a halt to the relentless march of modernity with its multiculturalism, its immigrants from Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, its Jihadi terrorists and its Brussels-based bureaucrats and politicians who have had the temerity to legislate for Englishmen and -women.”

Neil Parish does the Brexit hokey-cokey


He was one of 79 Tory MPs who voted with the opposition to force the EU referendum.

He then backed – vociferously – Remain,

Now he backs Brexiter Andrea Leadsom.

Hugo Swire has not yet declared. Might he also back a Brexiter?

Well, you have to be flexible in the Parliamentary jobs market.

Parliament: new inquiry into implications of leaving the EU announced today

“In the light of the outcome of the referendum on EU membership, the Foreign Affairs Committee is launching a rolling inquiry into the Government’s handling of the process of departing the EU and the ongoing implications of the decision for the UK’s role in the world. This will build on the findings of the Committee’s report, published in April 2016, outlining both the short- and long-term implications of the vote for the UK’s global role.

Inquiry: Implications of leaving the EU for the UK’s role in the world
Foreign Affairs Committee

Terms of reference

The Committee welcomes written submissions which address in particular:

The type of relationship that the UK, its Crown Dependencies and its Overseas Territories should seek to pursue with the EU in future
The implications of the decision for the UK’s strategic orientation, global posture, alliances and international trade.

The Government’s management of negotiations to determine the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, including their political direction and the structures and resources to be put in place to orchestrate the transition.

The work of the FCO in the transition process, both in negotiations with the EU and in managing the UK’s broader global role including trade agreements

Because of the rapidly changing situation and the rolling nature of this inquiry, no deadline is being set for written submissions. However, submissions received by 30 September will inform the Committee’s work in October.”

EDDC, DCC, LEP – tell us how Brexit will ( or will not ) affect us

Owl eagerly awaits the pronouncements of:

Paul Diviani – EDDC
John Hart – Devon County Council
Chris Garcia – Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

on how leaving the EU will affect our locality, their plans and their budgets.

You did all have a Plan B for this eventuality didn’t you?

Devon and our Local Enterprise Partnership’s dependence on EU funding

“The 2007-13 round of the European Regional Development Fund delivered 65,000 jobs and more than 15,000 new businesses.

The main priorities in the Heart of the South West for this round of the programme are:

• research and innovation;
• supporting and promoting small to medium-sized enterprises;
• low carbon;
• Information and communications technology …

… A total of £116,315,073 of ESIF has been provisionally allocated to the Heart of the South West LEP, made up of: £57,596,574 European Regional Development Fund; £43,178,166 European Social Fund and £15,540,333 European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. (Exact figures will vary slightly reflecting changes to exchange rates.)

A European Strategic Investment Fund Committee for the Heart of the South West has been established. This committee, which was set up following an open advertisement, is made up of leading figures in the HotSW private and public sector and is on hand to assist and inform potential applicants about the process and advise on criteria that is most likely to achieve success. …

… The European Growth Programme is worth just over €7.3billion (almost £5.8billion). It is made up of the following three Funds:

• European Regional Development Fund (€3.6billion)
• European Social Fund (€3.5billion)
• Part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development* (€221million)

The Rural Development Programme 2014 to 2020 has a total value of over £3.5 billion, of which €221 million will be invested through the European Growth programme to help promote rural economic growth.

We have agreed the major points of principle about the ERDF operational programme with the European Commission. Therefore, although the programme document has not formally been agreed, we feel able to invite applicants to apply for funding. The references in the call documents are based on the latest text of the ERDF Operational Programme. This text may be subject to further amendment during final agreement with the Commission. We will take the possibility of relevant changes to the text into account when assessing outline and full applications, and where such changes occur, will notify applicants of any issues that arise, and propose a method of dealing with them. We expect the operational programme to be formally agreed before the need to enter into funding contracts with applicants.

Between 23 March and 27 March, calls for projects are going live across all three of the above programmes. These can be accessed at

European Structural and Investment Funds
The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions are the managing authorities for ERDF and ESF funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development. By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs. For more information visit”