Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

Labour blasted over Mid Beds by-election ad after Charity Commission criticism

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Labour’s candidate in the Mid Bedfordshire by-election has been criticised by Tory chairman Greg Hands after sparking an official warning from the Charity Commission over his latest campaign video.

Alistair Strathern, who is standing to replace Nadine Dorries in the crunch mid-term vote, posted a video from the Millennium Country Parkrun, in which he promoted Parkrun events.

The video ended with a graphic urging Mid Beds voters to support him in the by-election on October 19.

The video has now sparked an official warning from the Charity Commission, who said charities “should be especially wary of associating or becoming associated in the minds of the public with a particular candidate or political party”.

The commission also asked the charity behind Parkrun to take action following the campaign video.

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The charity has since told website Civil Society that it has now written to all the political parties – including Labour – to remind candidates not to reference the charity in their campaigning.

They have not asked Mr Strathern to take the video down, however.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “We’ve been made aware of Alistair’s video and, of course, take our obligations to the Charity Commission incredibly seriously.

“We had no prior knowledge of this film, we have in no way endorsed it, or engaged with it, and are very aware of the CC’s new guidelines for charities on social media.”

The Tories have now entered the row, with party chairman Greg Hands telling the Express: “It’s good to see the charity commission has fulfilled its duties.”

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The Tory chief warned: ”Charities are rightly impartial, and the Labour party should know better than to drag them into their publicity campaigns.”

Mr Strathern has proved no stranger to press controversy during the by-election campaign so far.

In August the Sun revealed Labour’s candidate had previously been involved in controversial campaigns with Greenpeace, having posed as a zombie outside the Home Office as part of an eco-stunt last November.

The story created a particular headache for Sir Keir Starmer, coming shortly after Greenpeace targeted Rishi Sunak’s private family home in North Yorkshire as part of a campaign against oil drilling in the North Sea.

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