back to article Tories spared fine after being told off by ICO for election telemarketing

Phone calls made on behalf of the Conservatives in the run-up to the UK general election "crossed the line" into unlawful direct marketing – but the party has escaped regulatory action. The Tories hired Welsh-based firm Blue Telecoms to carry out direct marketing and market research calls during the campaign. This is a pretty …

  1. MonkeyBob
    Facepalm

    the ICO has "warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time".

    That'll be we got away with it this time so lets push it a bit further next time then

    1. PickledAardvark

      Re: the ICO has "warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time".

      Wrong. It means that no party will try it again. Imagine the kerfuffle if a party was caught out eight days before polling.

      In the past, we had silly expenses limits for parliamentary by-elections and silly expenses submissions by political parties, on the basis that I won't challenge you if you don't challenge me. That is more or less over.

      The Tory battle bus of student activists in 2015? Owing to the early election, a few court cases were curtailed. It was noted, however, that election agents have to record a realistic expense for imported canvassers. If they turned up at the last general election, it was recorded.

      Hmm. The worrying thing is national campaigning, which we think about as billboards and broadcasts. In reality, national campaigning is about personal letters, using personal data left on social media fora. How do we stop the people with the most money from winning elections?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the ICO has "warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time".

        "How do we stop the people with the most money from winning elections?"

        By actually fining them, by taking some sodding action.

        Even better, all fines for transgressions get re-distributed among the parties that played by the rules.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the ICO has "warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time".

          Even better, all fines for transgressions get re-distributed among the parties that played by the rules.

          Does that extend to the fines from electoral fraud? If it did, there would be something of a balance in fines (some members of the Tories seem very given to campaign expenses and marketing fraud, some members of the Labour party put their side streets ahead in voting fraud).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: the ICO has "warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time".

            From my memory of the TV program, the company hired by the Tories didn't just cross the line they ran over it with a steam roller! They even lied about who they were calling on behalf of.. among other things.

            In my opinion a telling off is nowhere near enough.

            BTW. I feel the same if it turns our the Greens, or the Lib Dems or anyone else has done the same thing. Things like this undermine democracy and shouldn't be tolerated.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: the ICO has "warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time".

          By actually fining them, by taking some sodding action.

          Or by giving them the power to trigger a new general election? That would be fun..

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: the ICO has "warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time".

        "Wrong. It means that no party will try it again."

        Oh, but they will. We had the AT5000 Autodialer (see The Simpsons) call us courtesy of one of our political shysters. You have NO recourse, it just dials out automatically, all numbers in sequence. Even the bullshit "LIFE HACK: The 11 magical words that will get a telemarketer off the phone" can't possibly make a diffrence because they don't ever listen to your screaming.

  2. James 51 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    That's a big thumbs up for 'creative' campaining techniques then.

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Ridiculous!

    "The concerns were not enough to trigger formal enforcement action"

    Of course they were! The Tories deliberately broke the rules to target marginal seats, which almost certainly influenced the election result.

    The only acceptable enforcement action is to ban the Tories from using any form of communications that involve electricity[*] for the next fifty years. And to be safe, ban all existing members of the party from using electricity-based-communications for 25 years, even if they turn into Kippers.

    [*] Social media, e-mail, and telephone (fixed or mobile) obvs, but also (to drive the message home) any use of electricity-based message creation, so no word-processors to prepare leaflets or electrical printers to print them. Obviously they would still be allowed to send the Freepost election communications, it wouldn't be democratic otherwise, but they all have to be hand-written. Some may think this is excessive, but I don't think so...

    1. msknight Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Ridiculous!

      What about hand operated duplicators? You know the type. The ones they used to have in schools that got you high if you got too much of the chemical up your nose.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Ridiculous!

        What about hand operated duplicators?

        I think that would be okay - but no electronically scanned stencils! Strictly the old alcohol/wax systems that died after about 30 copies!

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Ridiculous!

          > What about hand operated duplicators?

          > I think that would be okay - but no electronically scanned stencils! Strictly the old alcohol/wax systems that died after about 30 copies!

          No, those were Gestetner copiers. The Tories couldn't possibly use a German (sounding) product when there is a traditional British alternative available - namely the John Bull Printing Kit

          1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Ridiculous!

            No, those were Gestetner copiers

            I always remember the spirit systems being Roneo / Banda. Gestetner being a more complicated 'tissue paper' with carbon paper and card backing which allowed ink to seep through the minutely perforated paper from an inked drum. But my knowledge is limited through it being some forty years ago and my being a child having fun rather than a print worker.

            At college we had some fancy bit of kit which could transfer copy to a metal sheet which I think also went through a Gestetner machine, but I always retained a fondness for multi-colour spirit printing.

            Best years of my life ->

            1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Ridiculous!

              @Jason Bloomberg

              > I always remember the spirit systems being Roneo / Banda. Gestetner being a more complicated 'tissue paper' with carbon paper and card backing

              Ah yes, you're right. The Gestetner 'tissue paper' was quite entertaining because you had to type on it with the ribbon removed from the typewriter so that the hammers would perforate the paper. Fine if you were a touch-typing / copy-typing wizard, less so if you were a 'hunter-peckerer'[1] as you had to squint to see what you had typed.

              [1] Homo sapiens evolved from being hunter gatherers, to hunter peckerers in the Information Age

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Ridiculous!

        You know the type.

        No I don't. I was always too high after using one to even remember which storeroom it was kept in.

  4. TseTT
    Holmes

    Move along, nothing to see..

    Government Dept. investigating current governing party finds nothing much wrong.

    Who'd thought that in these days of government budget cuts!

  5. Whitter
    Mushroom

    ICO or police?

    If the law was broken, then its the police / CPS that should be making the call.

    Not a political appointee.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: ICO or police?

      I believe the fuzz are still investigating it, so there may yet be a sensible outcome. (Hah - dream on...can we have an 'ironic laugh' icon please?)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, if I break into a neighbours house, how much damage must I cause and/or how much must I steal before it's of sufficient concern to prosecute me?

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Based on recent reports of the Met no longer investigating 'small' property crimes, quite a lot I believe. It's new government policy to support the small, just-about-managing, housebreaker.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        It's new government policy to support the small, just-about-managing, housebreaker.

        And if the housebreaker registers as self-employed it help the jobs figures. Add in a loss-making tax return and the small business sector also looks to be growing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          government policy to support the small, just-about-managing, housebreaker

          funny, the other day, when I heard the news (minor crime is ok, says the plod, etc.), I thought: wouldn't it be the next step to secure gov funding for a new vocational course for the underemployed, say "legal burglery for dummies", i.e. how to become a profitable burgler, legally...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "So, if I break into a neighbours house, how much damage must I cause and/or how much must I steal before it's of sufficient concern to prosecute me?"

      You need to check your local forces policies. Is it odd door numbers or even door numbers they will be ignoring this week?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saw it on a TV thing - an undercover reporter got employed by Bullcrappers Inc here.

    Law ridden over roughshod.

    We don't giva damn, we're the ###*** tories, we employ our matez to shovell shite.

  8. Wiltshire

    How to get downvoted on Al Register?

    Just mention the same-style of "push polling" carried out by the GMB and Unite unions (on behalf of the Labour Party)

    1. davenewman

      Re: He made one mistake

      If supporters of a party directly call someone and up front says they are calling for the party, then can try to persuade people. That is telephone canvassing. It is when another organisation tries to do it while pretending to be independent that breaks the rules. Were the GMB up front about who was calling and why?

    2. My Alter Ego

      Well, you're the first person to mention GMB and unite so all I can say is "that's a lovely strawman you've knocked down".

      Besides, why do you assume people aren't bothered by Labour breaking electoral rules just because they're critical of the Tories? Most people grew out of using the "but teacher, Jim did it too..." excuse decades ago.

    3. sabroni Silver badge

      How to get downvoted on Al Register?

      Make a post showing you know something about Windows 10. Gets way more downvotes than any political bollocks....

      1. Kurt Meyer

        Re: How to get downvoted on Al Register?

        @ sabroni

        "Make a post showing you know like something about Windows 10. Gets way more downvotes than any political bollocks...."

        FTFY

  9. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    I alway lie

    Every time I get a political phone call I always make up stuff and tell them whatever I feel like - certainly never the truth ... if it's a call from a real human being then I wink at the wife and she comes in with "Are you talking to that bitch again, I'm going to catch her and skin her ..." they usually end the call at that point and never call back ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I alway lie

      > I alway lie

      I don't believe you.

  10. Rich 11 Silver badge
    Joke

    Push-polling

    It's been commonplace in USAland for decades, where it's done wonders for the vibrancy of their political intercourse.

  11. Hans 1 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Tories use illegal tactics in campaign calls, ICO says, no problem, thise, don't do it again ... I guess that is what they tell Equifax as well ...

    Where I live, the current mayor's team "cheated" by using bulletins of people who did not turn up ... the mayor won by ~140 votes, in a city with 300k people. The opposition had 48* hours to investigate the registry and "only" found ~100 entries where a signature was used multiple times ... like, the guyz gave up coming up with new signatures and ended up using the same.

    Sadly, for the opposition, 100 != 140, so the mayor officially won the election.

    If it were me, you find two occurrences of a signature and neither was legalized (you can vote on behalf of someone, if you fill in the paperwork), you investigate the registry ... but no, not in France ... too much hassle, she's a crook, in other words, one of us ...

    * They found 100 suspect votes with a team of ten people going through countless records ... needless to say, massive fraud.

    PS: Her personal driver earns more than the drivers of the president of France, happens to be "very" close "acquaintance", if I may say ...basically, driver has the same pay as elite civil servants ...

    PPS: Her daughter is senator

    PPPS: She got re-elected, nobody turned up to investigate for fraud, what is the point ...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a member of the Labour party may I suggest the Tories carry on ringing people up. If it is as irritating as people phoning me about PPI then its money well wasted as far as I'm concerned !

  13. myhandler

    I live in a marginal lib/con area. Got phoned by a Lib Dem canvasser the day before the vote, but he was in Canada - FFS if they can't use local companies they won't get my vote.

    OTOH the young conservatives at my front door, accompanied by an obnoxious Aussie bastard who said a vote for the lib dems was a vote for Corbyn, made the choice very simple.

  14. batfastad

    Unlawful direct marketing?

    Throw the book at them then.

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