Dead Men Left

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Oona King: postal ballot suspicions

What fun it is in Bethnal Green and Bow. Word reaches me via reputable sources that Labour Party canvassers, busily door-stepping one-time voters, are having a very rough ride. This underlying problem has been driving the Labour Party's increasingly dirty and desperate campaign (here, here, here, and here.)

You have, then, to wonder about what's going on here:

In the wake of the Birmingham case, in which Richard Mawrey QC found the postal-voting system was "wide open to fraud", guidelines were issued to political parties by the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers, warning them to steer clear of involvement in postal voting.

"Because of the risks of suspicions that the application may be altered and the risk of the application form being delayed or lost in transit, the local electoral registration officer's address should be the preferred address given for the return of application forms," the guidelines said.

But some candidates are flouting this advice. In a personal letter to voters in east London this week, the Labour MP Oona King told them to fill out the enclosed application form "and return it to me at the address shown", adding: "Then you can vote from the comfort of your own home."

Given both New Labour's previous record at the Bethnal Green campaign, and the terrible fraud in Birmingham, it's no surprise Respect are concerned:

"This is, at the very least, a deeply ambiguous and dangerous thing to do, given the concerns about postal voting fraud. There is another Labour Party form among the papers in the envelope but many voters may legitimately conclude that Oona King is asking them to return their postal ballot application to her office", said John Rees, Respect national secretary. "Oona King should recall this letter immediately and apologise for the confusion she is sowing in voter’s minds."