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Electoral Commission and the EPMU (2)

  • August 4th, 2008

Graeme Edgeler has helpfully directed me to the pdf download of  the Commission’s decision.

The decision is admirably crisp. It relies on a literal, not purposive, interpretation of the words of the EFA.

It accepts Andrew Little’s assurance that he does not take instructions from the EPMU in his Vice Presidency of the Labour Party, and accordingly the EPMU is not "involved in the administration of the affairs of" that Party.

A purposive interpreter might have assumed that Parliament intended to stop third parties acting under the influence of, or in collusion with, or congruently in campaigning with the party.  Such an interpreter might have given a wide meaning to "involved in" so that it impedes that two way coordination of plans and interests. Instead this interpretation says the literal words require that the involvement be by the EPMU in administering the party, and not the other way.

The decision will be a comfort for those who’ve been struggling to make sense of the Act. In effect this decision says don’t bother. If the words do not make sense in relation to the probable objectives of the Act, the Commission is not going to strain to find a way to turn nonsense into sense.

That view might not prevail in court, so there could still be risk in ignoring the restrictions when establishing third parties. But for ruthless or desperate politicians it is a green light for avoidance collaboration.


  • Mike Mckee
  • August 7th, 2008
  • 5:54 pm

I trust the National supporters club will be setting up the maximum no of “persons” under this act that they can afford.

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