Conservatives tell Tunbridge Wells Alliance they can’t have their fairy cake and eat it

Lee Colyer

‘Let them eat cake’ is not a phrase the Tunbridge Wells Alliance is likely to adopt if they win seats in the Borough Council elections.

The new party was accused of ‘treating’ by a Conservative rival, as they offered branded fairy cakes to passers-by while canvassing outside Royal Victoria Place.

The Alliance, who are standing seven candidates in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council elections on May 3, were initially established to oppose the planned £90million Civic Complex and theatre.

They advertised the decorated cakes on their Twitter page as they canvassed on Calverley Road on Saturday afternoon [April 14].

In reply to this tweet, Conservative Cllr Catherine Rankin, who is standing to represent Park ward, wrote: ‘Whoops guys, looks like that is against the law.’

Electoral Commission guidelines state: ‘A person is guilty of treating if either before, during or after an election they directly or indirectly give or provide any food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting.

‘Treating requires a corrupt intent – it does not apply to ordinary hospitality.’

Tunbridge Wells Alliance supporters did not speak to any Tory members face-to-face, but Chairman Bob Atwood received a phone call from a local Conservative member who is a lawyer by profession.

‘It never occurred to me [it could be considered treating] and we will stop giving fairy cakes away.

‘It is amazing and trivial, but it is now it is a party I am involved in and we want to be sure we are doing the correct thing.

‘It does mention that treating requires a ‘corrupt element’ and I think it might be patronising to say voters could be corrupted by a fairy cake!’

Mr Atwood, a former Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council when he was a Conservative Party member, did not wish to name the lawyer.

He added: ‘She was very polite and told me that it was against the law and that we should desist in doing it.

‘She said we would all being giving cupcakes away if we were allowed to!’

Mr Atwood said he does not think the matter will be followed up by either the Electoral Commission or Kent Police.

Alliance member Nick Pope, who is standing against Cllr Rankin for Park ward, added: ‘The aim was to bring people towards us to engage in conversation. It was not to influence peoples’ way of voting.

‘There were only around 20 cakes and most of them were eaten by the party supporters!’

Cllr Rankin has been approached for further comment.

There are 16 seats to be contested at the election. Liberal Democrat, Labour, Green, UKIP and Women’s Equality parties are also standing candidates.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter