Tories warn electoral watchdog could be abolished if it does not demonstrate ‘competence’

A polling station at the general election. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

A polling station at the general election. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Conservative Party is calling for a major overhaul of the electoral watchdog if it does not start to show 'competence'.

In a submission to a review into the watchdog, the Tories have called for the Electoral Commission to be more 'targeted and focused'.

The role of the commission and whether it should be given more powers is being examined by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

The Tories claim the commission is unaccountable and has little outside challenge or scrutiny.

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The party also stated: 'It has conflicts of interest. It provides (often unclear) advice to political campaigners, yet wants to prosecute breaches of its own unclear rulebook.'

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The Conservatives, who like other political parties have been fined by the commission in the past, have called for the body to have a clearer definition of its remit and goals.

And they want investigations of national/party electoral fraud to be a matter for the police.

The Tories said the Electoral Commission should not be given prosecution powers.

The submission stated: 'The Electoral Commission has neither the capacity nor the competence to act as a prosecutor.

'There are too many conflicts of interest, and would end up 'marking its own homework'.'

Tory MP and Conservative Party co-chairwoman Amanda Milling said: 'The current set up of the Electoral Commission is simply not fit for purpose.

'Rather than lobbying for more powers the commission should be focusing on getting its house in order.

'This review is the perfect opportunity for the Electoral Commission to right its wrongs and become more accountable.'

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