Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bercow Issues Clarion Call Over Election Night Counts

Well done John Bercow. Today he basically told the Prime Minister to sort the issue of election night counts. As readers will know, up to one third of local authorities plan to hold their counts on the Friday after the election, giving weasel-worded excuses about the time it takes to process postal votes, the tiredness of the tellers etc. The Speaker has put it very bluntly to national and local political leaders. Sort it. This is what he said in response to a Point of Order by Julian Lewis.

"For my own part, I am a passionate believer in instant, not slow motion, democracy. It seems to me that it is in the interests of the House and the country that the count should take place on the night, and there are two overwhelmingly compelling reasons why: first, I believe that there could be a threat to the security of the ballot if the count is delayed; and, secondly, it seems to me that on the day the election takes place, it should be possible for the count also to take place so that we get the result speedily.

"Frankly, it should not be beyond the wit and sagacity of humankind—or indeed of local authorities—to ensure that that happens. I politely suggest to the House that what is required is not a passive acceptance of the particular views of individual local authority chief executives, but rather an assertion of leadership nationally and politically, at a local level, to achieve what I sense the House is uniting in wishing to see."

So, come on Mr Brown, come on local authority leaders. Do your duty and put these weak minded local authority chief executives (average annual salary around £175,000) in their place.

Hattip ConservativeHome

21 comments:

Jules said...

that is the first useful thing bercow has ever said. will it be the last i wonder?

Lola said...

Plus, and most importantly, it's an instant 24 hour decision. It's either 'OK, we trust you to carry on in power, for the time being' or it's 'F**k Off. Now!'. Either way doing it quickly is what's best.

Andy JS said...

I absolutely agree with everyone who is trying to get the votes counted on the night in 95% of seats.

If we could do it in the 1950s, there's no excuse for not doing today!

The chief executive of Newcastle council especially annoys me with his risible excuses for why the count can't be conducted on the night, despite the fact that the 3 Newcastle seats are usually some of the first to declare.

Líam said...

The (Tory) leader of Preston Council has gone on record to say he would like the good folk of Preston to know their MP "by the time they come downstairs for breakfast".

Good man himself. Now for the rest of the country! Same day counts must remain.

William said...

Don't like Bercow, but credit where credit's due.
Has anybody thought about the financial implications of holding off on counting? If the election result is still not known by the time the markets open, and it's looking like a hung parliament, there could be a loss of confidence in the pound. Might sound like a far fetched scenario but there is no reason why it coudn't happen.

Will Dean said...

Surely he said this yesterday, not today?

But anyway it still makes no sense:

"two overwhelmingly compelling reasons why: first, I believe that there could be a threat to the security of the ballot if the count is delayed; and, secondly, it seems to me that on the day the election takes place, it should be possible for the count also to take place so that we get the result speedily."

The second 'reason' is not a reason, it's just a reassertion of the original desire.

"You should do it because it should be done". What a load of blather.

DeeDee99 said...

Another important advantage is that if the good people of Buckingham do right by the country, Bercow will learn at the first possible minute that he has lost to Nigel Farage.

Ruth said...

I thought Speaker Bercow's constituency has already announced it will count on the Friday (as of 3rd Dec 2009).

Twig said...

There should be a forensic examination of the postal ballots to see if there has been any tampering.

50 Calibre said...

It's only Brown trying to screw another day in Power. Delusional or what...

Joe Public said...

I rather fancy the gentler torture.

Keep 'em in suspense for an extra 24 hrs before they know for certain their electorate have sacked the majority of troughers.

Allan said...

Andy JS

The reason it could be done in the 1950's and not now is because of the rise in postal votes, it has nothing to do with lazyness, or a ruse to get more money out of the government. It is an attempt to get the election votes counted as accurately as possable, and not to have the election turn into the laughing stock the 2000 Presidential election or more recently the 2007 Holyrood/Scotish Local Elections both decended into.

Mike Law said...

We had a next day count in 2006 for the local council elections (Newham). A lot of old salts came away convinced that something very fishy took place.

Thatsnews said...

Good point form John Bercow. Maybe he will grow into the role? I wonder if Labour could live to regret using John Bercow to annoy the Tories?

Just Wonderful said...

I have watched rather a lot of the Parliamentary goings on for the past few months, (more time on my hands than I should probably have) and a lot of John Bercow's reign as Mr Speaker seems to involve eliciting "pithy questions and equally pithy answers" to allow more questions during the various question times. On this point of order, however I do wholeheartedly agree. If it is beyond the wit of the Returning Officers to deliver an election night count then I say find another returning officer! Parliament should most certainly introduce, and pass, a 10 minute rule bill to ensure that an election night count occurs.

Not a sheep said...

How can the right number of postal votes for Labour be counted if the count is no delayed a little; have you no idea of logistics?

Sean Haffey said...

It's by no means clear that having vote counters sleep on election night rather than count votes makes any significant difference to the quality of the postal vote. As a local councillor, I'd be interested in seeing any evidence of this, so please feel free to contact me.

neil craig said...

With the amount of postal ballot fraud we saw at the last election I think parties other than Labour who "did everythng possible except write "steal me" on the envelopes to encourage fraud" to quote the judge at the Birmingham trial should demand that postal ballots be counted & announced separately & that in every constituency where they change to result it be held up until they have made a checkm of a statistically chosen number of postal votes. At the last election 1/5th of votes were postal & that is easily enough to swing any election.

Botogol said...

I see the BNP are woried they are not the only ones. I think fraud will be a major story in this election. We haven't heard the last of Zanu-Labour

Newmania said...

Yes I agree but I would still like to see the nauseating twerp lose his seat .

I seriously wonder, if the Conservative Party can put up with Bercow , if there is any place for me in it .

JMB said...

Does it matter? I suspect the majority of the electorate are not going to stay up all night though it does provide employment for political commentators. Why not have all constituencies (including rural areas) start at the same time next morning - 8 am perhaps.

Broon is not going to concede defeat until the last vote has been counted so it will not make much difference to when he leaves Downing Street.