Regular and long-established readers will be glad to hear of the return to these pages of Lancashire Labour Candidate Clive Grunshaw, who I have previously christened 'the gift that keep on giving', and this turns out to be an ironic title, because today's article concerns some gifts that he has received.
Head over to the Electoral Commission's website and have a look at their Register of Regulated Donees, and you will find that in July (which is reported in August), with the Lancashire Labour selection safely out of the way, County Councillor Grunshaw registered two donations to his selection campaign from Unite the Union, each allegedly worth £2,500, for printing and posting of mailshots for his selection campaign.
One of these donations dated back to April, but by delaying the submission to July, Labour members cast their votes unaware that Unite's backing extended to spending £5,000 on the mailshots they got through the election campaign, and unaware that he had this funding advantage over his opponents.
You may remember that one of Cllr Grunshaw's mailshots landed him in trouble with the Labour party and led to him being forced to apologise to his Labour rivals for the post.
There are a few odd things about this though, just two of which we will explore now.
1) Doesn't Unite the Union represent Police Staff? Is it proper for a PCC candidate to accept such a significant benefit from a Union that represent staff in the organisation he seeks to lead? Will there not be questions over the impact of his every policy on police staff and union paymasters?
2) The really strange thing though is that Councillor Grunshaw's declarations are the only ones I could find from any candidate in these election related to their selection campaign. Search for your favourite candidate here. Any such donations to party members, including those in kind, and that includes the cumulative value of a number of smaller donations, to a total value of over £1,500, should already have been reported to the Commission.
Are there really no other candidates who have had such benefits? No other candidates receiving payments from a union? No other funded mailshots in Labour's all-postal ballot selections, where mailshots were the only way to get more than 200 words before the party members who have the votes?
Have Unions been trying to buy influence with Labour candidates?
Have Labour candidates failed to disclose this, keeping an inconvenient story from Labour members, and from the wider electorate?
Time will tell.