Thursday, 27 January 2011

Tower Hamlets post-script

The Labour party (of all people) have conducted an investigation and found that the new mayor, independent Lutfur Rahman, was elected with the aid of a number of 'voters' who had been added to the local Labour membership, but who did not actually exist.

There weren't enough of them to tip the balance by themselves, and produce a different electoral result; but there are other matters that - if they too were to be investigated - might then reach that level (or they might not: who knows?).

Andrew Gilligan is, as ever, on top of this and reports in very useful detail, as he has with previous episodes in this long-running story. The most telling extract, that informs us about the way election-rigging is attempted in certain places, is this:

"the Tower Hamlets electoral roll has gone up and down like a yoyo from year to year, depending on whether there are significant elections that year."

Although small variations can legitimately occur and those are expected, it really is far greater than natural changes in population and even a modest increase in registrations in electoral years could perhaps explain. There is now such a history of such things going on as Gilligan has previously reported, possibly coming to wide attention for the first time earlier this century in Birmingham.

For some reason, it nearly always seems to be Asian (usually Muslim) dominated communities where this happens. I don't know what if anything can be deduced from this, but the records show it very clearly. It is also predominantly Labour or ex-Labour candidates and their associates who have so far been found out and (in some cases) prosecuted.

While nothing conclusive should be drawn from this, as nothing is absolute in this arena, it should help inform us and possibly even allow to weigh up candidates' and parties' claims and attitudes when it comes to our own elections, especially here in London.

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