Monday, March 21, 2005

Vote Fraud Update

Fair play, now - I'd have thought the Indie would have thoroughly approved of postal vote fraud which benefited the Labour party. You live and learn.

In a long list of allegations, including claims that "threats of deportation were made to first-generation migrants if they did not sign postal vote papers to vote Labour", it contends that blank ballot papers were "completed by Labour candidates and activists rather than voters", and that "postal votes were collected in a completed form by Labour party agents, opened, the vote changed and resealed". Here, too, the three winning Labour councillors - Mohammed Islam, Muhammad Afzal and Mohammed Kazi - deny any wrongdoing. All six Labour councillors in Bordesley Green and Aston strenuously deny they had any knowledge of, or consented to, any corrupt practice in the course of their campaigns.

But the fact that these cases are being heard raises huge issues. They coincide with a third case: a former Labour councillor in Blackburn, Mohammed Hussain, faces a possible jail term after pleading guilty last month to conspiracy to rig the 2002 town hall election by getting supporters to fraudulently fill in more than 200 blank postal votes. And alarm bells should be ringing nationwide, because these cases coincide with the build-up to a general election.

They even utter a truth which dare not speak its name.

It's a sensitive issue, but electoral bodies and experts privately agree that inner-city areas of high ethnic-minority population are vulnerable to manipulation of the postal vote system. Ayoub Khan says: "One aspect of the culture is a system of hierarchy that doesn't just extend within the family - it extends into the families of your first cousins, second cousins; and within most extended families there are certain adults who play a very key role." In other words, the deep respect in which elders and senior family members are held means that "key adults and community leaders who have affiliated themselves with a party are in a position where they can extract postal votes in the hundreds".

As I posted last summer:

"It is likely that Labour will consider electoral fraud a price well worth paying for an increased turnout. Which means that future elections where the result is tight will be decided by fraud and/or intimidation. Bad will drive out good as the losers decide 'they're doing it, so we'll have to'. The ruling party will be able to tilt the process, as the police ignore fraud by some parties but prosecute frauds by others. A whole new breed of lawyers specialising in electoral law will exist.

The future ? Soviet levels of turnout and Third World levels of fairness."

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