Friday, April 28, 2006

EXCLUSIVE: Birmingham Heads for Another Postal Vote Scandal

I have just received a leaked document showing a dramatic increase in postal vote applications right across Birmingham. I am told that the figures below are the % increases in postal vote applications in Birmingham in the three weeks before the deadline closed for the local elections. However, the more cautious part of me thinks it must be the figure compared to the number of postal votes at the last election. Whichever it is, the figures are very high and include the ward of the LibDem candidate who has been arrested (Nechells).

Lozells and East Handsworth 31.51 %
Springfield 27.54 %
Nechells 26.62 %
Bordesley Green 15.63 %
Sparkbrook 9.83 %
Average throughout Birmingham 11%

I wonder if our friendly West Midlands correspondent, Cllr Bob Piper (Lab), can shed any light on this.

17 comments:

Bob Piper said...

Absolutely not, Iain. I steadfastly discourage postal voting and must have one of the lowest totals in the borough. It encourages idleness amongst party members who think that if you get somone a postal vote because they say they will support you, they will always support you. I believe in simple old fashioned knocking doors and taking supporters to the polling station if they need a lift. Postal voting only if they arte to old or infirmed to get out, that's my view.

Iain Dale said...

Bob, I think you misread what I meant - I just wondered if you had heard about these figures and if you thought there was anything untoward. I wasn't casting aspertions in the direction of Labour!

kingbongo said...

why not Iain, after all they do have form on this in Birmingham and it is their system which is causing all these problems. Postal voting didn't used to be a source of controversy. Another Prescott success story.

Anyway, after the treatment the learned councillor doled out to Sir Cliff I think you have every right to cast aspersions at him :-)

Tower Hamlets strikes me as a cause for wider concern. Not sure which party or parties are involved but something pretty bad seems to be happening there.

Anonymous said...

Bob, you're a genius.

coolbuddha said...

There is a potential 'law and order' issue which needs attention.

Anonymous said...

It's well known in Birmingham that the real scandal in 2004 was that only Labour got caught.

As a confirmed Labour voter I am not excusing the behaviour of some party members. But I am saying that other parties were at it too, and they should have been punished.

All parties (and this includes, for instance, Tories in West Yorkshire) need to understand that importing the communal politics of some parts of the sub-continent is a disaster.

Maybe Labour actually got lucky in 2004 - because they were the first to be caught they are more alert to this evil - we'll see.

NB: This is not to say I think all South Asian politicians are like this - on the contrary the good people in all parties need to support those who want to break the corruption.

Jock Coats said...

I'm not sure why you would find it remarkable that there would be an increase in the number of postal votes applied for in the few weeks before the deadline. It seems to me that this would be the period of heaviest canvassing activity in any case. Although I think I gave out two postal vote application forms I was certainly loaded with dozens of them on every clip-board I picked up in that sort of period.

So, if these figures are what they say they are and not what you assume they are, are they still at all remarkable?

Also it includes the period during which many polling cards reminding people of their right to apply for a postal vote would have gone out.

Iain Dale said...

Jock, your point would be a good one if there was a uniform increase across the City. From those figures that's clearly not the case.

PoliticalHack said...

I'm with Bob on postal voting - it is only for those on holiday or who can't get to a polling station. Voting should be something of an event, not just a matter of ticking a box or sending a text message.

I can confirm that the fear of God has been put into every Labour candidate and agent in Birmingham regarding postal votes. In short - steer well clear of it.

I have my suspicions. And it ain't us.

Antony Calvert said...

Postal voting should be totally abolished. Polling stations are the best way of registering a vote.. even if this means mobile polling stations.

If there is ANY evidence of postal fraud I think that the national paty involved should be prosecuted.

I have no knowledge of Tory corruption with postal votes.

coolbuddha said...

I'm trying to send an email but can't get past the virus/fire wall thingy.

Richard Allen said...

Of course it is worth noting that the number of postal votes in Birmingham has actually fallen quite a bit compared to 2004.

I suppose the sad truth is that on one scale or another electoral fraud has blighted elections in inner city Birmingham for a decade or more. In 2004 it became so blatant that it was absurd and while I doubt we will see anything like that again I am sure that problems will continue.

Iain Dale said...

cool, you mean you are sending one to me and it bounces?

Anonymous said...

Iain ... This only makes sense if you can find out and tell us what these percentages actually are. Can you clarify?

The Remittance Man said...

Coolbuddha,

You say: "There is a potential 'law and order' issue which needs attention."

So you suggest we have a system devised by John prescott now to be investigated by Charlie Clarke's department.

Um? Yeah... I think I can see that working.

RM

Bob Piper said...

Iain, I never took it that you were casting aspersions. I was simply saying I have no idea about the postal vote goings on anywhere. It is not something I get involved with. I strongly suspect the postal vote changes were introduced to try to encourage greater engagement rather than to enable more people to fiddle, and the changes were supported by all three political parties. However, perhaps if politicians generally behaved with more respect and honour it would do more to engae the electorate than tinkering with the voting system.

I must say like visiting this site, you get a better class of insult. Learned? Genius?

The Remittance Man said...

"However, perhaps if politicians generally behaved with more respect and honour it would do more to engae the electorate than tinkering with the voting system."

By George! I think he's got it. Let's just hope the virus is contageous.

RM