Strong evidence of electoral fraud in recent UK elections has been reported in several outlets. This would not be the first time considering political fraud is embedded in the system. Like electronic voting machines which enable leaders in the United States to steal elections at will, the UK’s way of procuring false votes is to invent false voters, or “ghosts”, all the more since no “ghostbusting” mechanisms are available.
Thursday’s election has been described as a shambles, a complete farce which shames the nation, after scenes of thousands being turned away from polling stations without being able to vote. Is this just another instance of chaotic Britain muddling along, like Dad’s Army, or is there a more sinister element of systemic fraud?
That malpractice had been at play in previous elections, in 2005, the Scottish elections of 2007 and the infamous Glasgow North East by-election last year, was more than evident. My view was that it could become the central focus of this election rather than the pseudo-conflict between three City-backed politicos.
This view seemed to be confirmed when high-profile candidate George Galloway MP of the leftist Respect party made thefollowing sensational revelations:
“Respect has a substantial dossier on the current abuse and the principal people involved in this attempted fraud. George Galloway will name these people and the Respect bus will drive to their addresses where reporters and photographers will have the opportunity to question the people Galloway has named.”
We had also had the comments of Martin Bell, the conscience of Britain, the White Knight who had vanquished the corrupt Tory, Neil Hamilton:
“There is actually a possibility that the result of the election could be decided by electoral fraud. That’s pretty grim.”
With these two leading the charge there was a real possibility that light would be cast on the dark recesses of British political life.
But this is Britain. On the morning of the 7th Galloway made this remarkable statement to the press:
“What we’ve done in these three cases is to point out the huge increase in numbers of people suddenly registering at their addresses in the space of a few days. We’ve never said it is voter fraud.”
Had someone” had a word” with George or was he just the conductor whereby the lightning of this issue was safely lead to earth? The rest is silence, a silence unlikely to be broken by a report from electoral observers from Europe andcommonwealth countries to come out in two months time.
And so the election remains just a shambles, nothing more. There is, of course, to be a thorough investigation to make sure nothing of the like occurs ever again.
The absence of fraud leaves us with a very unconvincing narrative for the course of this election. What was the nth rerun of the old firm five yearly fixture had been dramatically enlivened by the performance of Nick Clegg , leader of the Liberal-Democrat party, in the TV debates. As a result there was a surge of enthusiasm for Clegg, suddenly a contender, reflected in a huge increase in registrations to vote. But these votes didn’t go to Clegg. The last pre-election poll showed him kneck and kneck with New Labour with both trailing the Tories. The “strange” exit polls (as noted by Vince Cable), however, suddenly revealed a drop in the Lib Dem vote, which was confirmed in the actual results, as reported. So Clegg’s TV successes only inspired people to register and vote for his opponents. Either the British people are perverse or this electoral process was.
The growing corruption of the British electoral process is well documented and doesn’t require anything additional from conspiracy theorists such as myself. Listen to Richard Mawley QC, the judge presiding over a case of vote-rigging in Birmingham in June 2004:
“The system is wide open to fraud and any would-be political fraudster knows that”. Citing evidence of “massive, systematic and organised fraud”, Judge Mawley said the system was “hopelessly insecure” and sent a message to those that claimed that the current postal voting system was working, adding: “Anybody who has sat through the case I have just tried and listened to evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic would find this statement surprising.”
“The best and simplest way to procure false votes is to invent false voters – “ghosts”, as they are known in the trade” reports Nick Davies in a highly recommended 2001 Guardian article which exposed the various modalities of UK electoral fraud. He elaborates:
“The real joy of raising electoral ghosts is that there are no ghostbusters: there is no system for checking the accuracy of the electoral register. Riggers can find a derelict building, or add a couple of extra houses to a street, or use the address of a hostel or anywhere else with a transitory population, and simply bung in names. If they are unlucky or particularly clumsy, and happen to catch the eye of an electoral registration officer, the police may be called. But, under normal circumstances, the paperwork is routinely processed straight on to the register with no attempt at checking.”
He goes on to discuss widespread techniques such as the “Tipp-Ex trick” and “granny farming”. But this was 2001: he is describing the process in its infancy, as it were, before New Labour really systematised fraud by introducing postal votes for all, proxy votes for all and making it easier to add names to the electoral register. I don’t intend to give a comprehensive treatise on our fraudulent practices: I limit myself to providing these highlighted links for those of you who wish to do some further study. And very interesting it is too.
Electoral fraud in the UK is an open secret, the elephant in the room(another one!) but nothing ever happens about it. We have “independent “ bodies like the shadowy “Electoral Commission” making recommendation which are ignored. In fact, there are bodies everywhere and skeletons falling out of cupboards but we Brits are just too polite to notice. The police are forever following up allegations; there have been fifty in the last week. But nothing happens.
Trying to divert criticism from itself, Jenny Watson of the Electoral Commission blamed Britain’s “Victorian” electoral system. I’ve never heard it called that before; in any case, it’s much more like the notorious 18th century system of rotten burghs. We also hear comparisons with “third-world countries”. But corruption or alleged corruption in countries like Zimbabwe results in a chorus of indignation and calls for regime change. No one is doing that here for the simple reason that the people calling for regime change in Zimbabwe are the regime in Britain, and they don’t want to overthrow themselves.
Should we, the people, want to overthrow them? On the basis of the scenario I have outlined above there is a strong prima facie case for an orange revolution in Britain. I’m not referring here to another 1688, a coup d’etat by Anglo-Dutch finance backed by loyalist mobs. Instead, Lib Dem voters should be out in the main squares demanding a full criminal investigation into the events of last week: they should pick up where George Galloway left off. What use will PR be to them if the votes continue to be rigged? What is the use of all the votes in the world if we don’t have the rule of law?
The wider world also has to learn the truth about British democracy, a system whereby political fraud, as easy as throwing a frame of snooker, is enthroned next to financial fraud, and we are all the losers. They will then equip themselves all the better to resist the interfering, the warmongering and the malicious busybodying of a country which has yet to learn that the empire is over.
Cailean Bochanan is editorial columnist for UK-based In These New Times.