Saturday, November 03, 2007

Yet More Vote Fraud

From (where else ?) Brum (again).

When Ayoub Khan said in 2004 "this is the politics of Pakistan or Bangladesh and they've brought it here" I thought he was just (just ?) talking about fraud. I should have taken him at his word.

A Liberal Democrat activist had his £50,000 Range Rover set on fire during a bitter fight to oust a Labour councillor, an election court was told yesterday. The activist, Iftikhar Ahmed, was a key supporter of Saeed Aehmed, who was defeated in the council elections in Birmingham in May when he stood against the Labour candidate Muhammad Afzal.

Mr Aehmed is challenging Mr Afzal’s victory and claims that he was the victim of a smear campaign, in which voters were told wrongly that he had been arrested for fraud. Mr Afzal was also accused of trying to use family pressure to stop a witness giving evidence in court.

Mr Afzal, a former chairman of the National Association of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Councillors and a Birmingham councillor since 1982, had his reelection to the council in 2004 overturned because of widespread corruption. Richard Mawrey, QC, then election commissioner, had accused Labour of organising city-wide postal vote fraud “that would disgrace a banana republic” to win the election, in spite of Muslim anger over the invasion of Iraq. Mr Afzal was later cleared by the Court of Appeal of personal responsibility for corrupt and illegal practices.

Mr Brodie said that on this year’s election day,Mr Afzal’s supporters told voters that the Lib Dem candidate had been arrested for fraud. Loudspeakers on cars in Aston blared out the rumour in Urdu and Bengali.

Mr Afzal, who is regarded as the most powerful man in Birmingham Asian politics, sits on the council’s overview and scrutiny committee. His victory this May came in spite of a sharp swing against Labour in the city when the party was overtaken as Birmingham’s largest by the Conservatives for the first time in 24 years.

Labour had five cars with loudspeakers and were trailing the sole Liberal Democrat car broadcasting: “Lib Dems arrested, Lib Dems arrested.”