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Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Following the verdict of Judge Richard Mawrey that elections in two Birmingham wards should be re-run, a date has been set and the campaigns have now got underway.

In determining the case the judge described the evidence of electoral fraud that was presented to him as sufficient to "disgrace a banana republic". Both the pro-Kashmir People's Justice Party (PJP) and the Liberal Democrats claimed local Labour activists used forgery and deception to collect votes - something the candidates denied.

The Guardian reported on 5 April that 'early on a June morning last year, four police officers drew up outside a warehouse on a deserted trading estate in Birmingham. Inside they found several men sitting at a table with postal ballots piled in front of them.

"I saw plenty of ballot papers with crosses on them and I saw unsealed envelopes that were of A5 size," one of the constables said later.

What they were witnessing, elections commissioner Richard Mawrey, QC said yesterday, was the three Labour candidates for the Aston ward in Birmingham caught "red handed" carrying out postal voting fraud by altering ballot papers or filling in blank papers they had collected from householders.'

Nick Barlow draws our attention to this account by a voter in Birmingham's Aston ward of Labour's astonishing lack of shame in the new campaign:

We got a letter from the two Labour MPs whose constituencies overlap the Aston ward today. More entertaining than Bad Girls, it was. Have some edited highlights.

'We are particularly proud that [...] the communities in Aston Ward normally give a majority to Labour at election time - as they did last year in the election that is now being re-run.'

Aw. The Labour Party council candidates put in so much individual hard work to secure that majority, after all. You'd have to be a right heartless bitch not to be impressed by their sterling efforts.

'However, the ["electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic"] problem arose mainly because many voters who wanted to vote Labour wanted to vote by post. This was often because of long and anti-social working hours in low-paid jobs.'

Well, now there's a bit that was left out of A-Level Government and Politics. I guess external examinations really are dumbing down. All this time, and I never knew that

poor people + postal voting = electoral fraud

It's an automatic process that kicks in as soon as the numbers of poor people and postal ballots reach critical mass, you know. Nothing to do with council candidates sitting in a warehouse at night filling in postal ballots in their own favour at all. Nothing anyone could do about it, as long as those pesky poor people persist in voting by post.

The letter goes on to claim that in the previous election 'Not everybody understood the proper procedures or the postal vote rules.' Well, yes - the Labour Party for one. But do not fear apparently it is all the Liberal Democrats fault:

'The Liberals then exploited what had gone wrong to get the election re-run.'

The fact that the elections were declared null and void by a judge does not seem to trouble them nor does the fact that they may have had a small hand in the circumstances that led to the election being re-run. The letter asserts that 'democracy is at stake in Aston Ward in this election' and demands that voters should not 'allow the outcome of an election to be decided by a small minority who are voting by post.'

It isn't those who vote by post who are the problem it is those who seek to interfere with that process. Incredible!
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