Tag Archives: tower hamlets

Nick (finally) makes his education speech and launches the Coalition’s own ‘Champions League’

Five days after it was pre-briefed, Nick Clegg finally made his speech on A Liberal Vision for Education at Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets.

(Morpeth is, by the way, a fantastic school. I visited it for my day-job 18 months ago, and was shown around by two of its pupils, Vanessa and Mahir: the transformational progress of London schools in the past decade is one of the modern wonders of Britain.)

There was little in the speech we didn’t already know. In fact, there was little that wasn’t known last March when Clegg’s “surprise U-turn on free schools” (© …

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More election fraud claims – and the TV show which set up a fake polling station

In the London Borough of Camden, Hat Trick productions ran into hot water after setting up a spoof but official looking polling station immediately outside a real polling station, encouraging members of the public into coming to vote before revealing to them that the polling station was part of a prank for a political satire show.

Hat Trick also sent someone out door knocking, claiming to be a Liberal Democrat activist but really setting people up for more spoofs, to be caught on a hidden camera.

One Liberal Democrat supporter was called on at home by the fake Liberal Democrat activist, who …

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Police called in over electoral fraud allegations in Tower Hamlets

The Evening Standard reports:

Scotland Yard was today asked by the elections watchdog to investigate “unprecedented” evidence of voter fraud ahead of next week’s polling for London Mayor.

The Electoral Commission passed evidence to police after six Labour councillors in Tower Hamlets wrote to warn of “serious abuses of the electoral register”. It follows growing concerns of cheating in the east London borough, involving the creation of bogus voters at a series of addresses.

An investigation by the Evening Standard this year found instances of eight names registered in one room to vote. It is claimed that a man locked up in

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Electoral Commission’s verdict: electoral fraud is not a serious problem

The Electoral Commission has published the results of its third survey of reports of electoral fraud and other malpractice, this time covering the 2010 general and local elections and for the first time including data for every police force. Commenting on the findings, Electoral Commission Chair, Jenny Watson, said:

There was some high profile reporting of alleged electoral malpractice around the elections and perceptions of fraud continue to be a concern to voters. Yet these figures do not support the more pessimistic perceptions: there’s no evidence of widespread attempts to commit electoral fraud, or of election results being called into question. It is important the public have accurate information on electoral malpractice and I would like to thank police forces across the UK for proving the data to make this analysis possible.

It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point and no one should be complacent about the risks at the elections and referendums this year. We continue to work closely with the police, elections staff, the Royal Mail and political parties to ensure the threat of electoral malpractice is reduced, and we’ve seen examples of excellent joint working between police forces and electoral administration teams.

The UK Government’s commitment to introducing individual electoral registration will be another important measure to help tighten up the democratic process. The next step is for them to consider introducing the requirement for ID at polling stations in Great Britain, as is already the case in Northern Ireland. We’ve raised this in our report after the UK Parliamentary General Election and asked Government to lead the debate.

Electoral fraud 2010 report front coverThe reference to showing ID at polling stations reflects increasing concerns over impersonation at polling stations in the last few years, partly as a result of many of the easy ways of carrying out postal vote fraud having been curtailed by changes in the rules.

Overall the Electoral Commission found that 232 cases of alleged malpractice were reported to the police as a result of the May 2010 elections, with the police deciding in 137 cases that no further action was required.

So far two cases have been to court (one conviction and a fine of £200, one acquittal), two cases saw police cautions issued and 23 were concluded with the police giving informal advice short of a caution. The other 68 cases are either still with the police or awaiting decisions by prosecutors.

These apparently comforting figures have been attacked by some as showing undue complacency by the Electoral Commission:

Critics have attacked the report as a whitewash, stating that the lack of successful prosecutions simply highlights how difficult it can be to investigate voting irregularities.

Rob Hoveman, an election agent for the Respect Party, which claimed postal-ballot rigging was commonplace in East London, said: “The fact is that it remains very easy for votes to be cast through personation, for false voters to be registered and, above all, for undue, inappropriate and illegal pressure to be applied in the casting of postal votes through the postal vote on demand system.”

He added: “Just because a crime hasn’t been prosecuted doesn’t mean a crime didn’t take place.” (The Independent)

In addition to these concerns over whether particular problem areas exist which need more effective action, the details of some cases which were not pursued suggest that there is more going wrong than the number of successful prosecutions indicates. The Electoral Commission’s report gives this example from Peterborough:

Initially, Peterborough City Council followed robust sifting procedures of several hundred applications to register to vote and to vote by post. Following this, 150 applications were identified as high risk and referred to Cambridgeshire Constabulary for further investigation.

A man was identified to have delivered the applications to the City Council. He was subsequently arrested and his computer equipment was seized from his home address.

He denied any knowledge or involvement concerning fraudulent voting applications and summarised his involvement as being a delivery driver for the Conservative Association. He freely admitted handling the applications and denied any knowledge as to how they were constructed. Low level enquiries were completed with the Conservative Association to identify the existence of reliable third party evidence that might identify those involved but none was found.

The defendant was bailed to allow the examination of his computers to identify the existence of source documents (tenancy agreements in particular) which may have been used in support of false applications and to complete an identification procedure involving potential witnesses. Both these lines of enquiry were negative and no further action was taken against him.

A joint decision was made by Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire Constabulary that, as no person appeared to have been denied their right to vote in the 6 May elections nor any suspect identified, no further investigation would be carried out. Furthermore, no further referrals, intelligence or complaints, were received by Peterborough City Council or Cambridgeshire Constabulary in relation to allegations of electoral fraud.

Analysis of cases of alleged electoral malpractice in 2010

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Executive editor and news editor quit paper in storm over election smears

Trial by Jeory has the story from the contest to be Mayor of Tower Hamlets:

Lutfur Rahman’s campaign does seem to have galvanised a section of the Tower Hamlets community and many, if not most, are certainly very angry young people who are fuelled by a fair degree of hatred.

That bitterness has been targeted in almost equal measure at the Labour NEC and the party’s official candidate, Helal Abbas … There are many in the Labour party who believe the level of vitriol is similar to that experienced by Oona King in 2005 when she was beaten by Respect and

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When good intentions go bad: the Tower Hamlets Mayoral election

There are good reasons for having laws that require local councils to be politically impartial in their publicity work. The Mayor election currently underway in Tower Hamlets has shown, once again, the big problem with the existing rules (for English and Welsh councils).

Tower Hamlets Council logoThe council wanted to include a 200 word statement from each nominated Mayor candidate in the latest council newspaper. With the option open to every nominated candidate, this would have been a fair and useful step. However, the restrictions …

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LibLink: Interview with Lib Dem Tower Hamlets’ mayoral candidate John Griffiths

Over at Dave Hill’s London Blog on the Guardian website, there’s a candid and in-depth interview with John Griffiths, the Lib Dems’ candidate in the contest to become the directly elected Mayor of the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Here’s an excerpt:

… Griffiths knows what he’d do if he won. “The main function the mayor has to perform is to be an advocate, a champion, for the borough,” he says. “In the present situation, with a government of a different political hue from that of the Council, it’s critical that there’s someone there who can really stand up for

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Controversy hits Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets campaign film

The Tower Hamlets Mayoral election campaign continues to do its best to beat political fiction for implausible twists, witness the appearance and then disappearance of a disgraced ex-Assistant Chief Executive in Lutfur Rahman’s election film as recounted on Harry’s Place.

The Liberal Democrat candidate is John Griffiths, who you can find on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and how to help his campaign.

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Labour’s Tower Hamlets selection nightmare

You select a candidate in a keenly contested election.

You then receive complaints about how the contest was run.

So you suspend the candidate and, er…, don’t rush through an investigation or recount the votes to find a new winner or put the runner-up in post but instead your national committee hands the candidature to someone else, without members getting a say in the matter.

Oh, and the original winner decides to stand anyway, but as an independent.

Welcome to the tale of Labour’s Mayoral selection in Tower Hamlets, as told over on Dave Hill’s blog.

The Liberal Democrat candidate is John Griffiths, who you …

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Electoral administration isn’t going quite as well as it should…

First, the good news: all the reports so far indicated a strong surge in people registering just before the deadline earlier this month. The Independent has some further figures to add to earlier reports. Thankfully, Havering Council with its hostile approach to people using the Electoral Commission’s website seems to be very much the exception. Whilst its electoral division has called “ridiculous” the number of people registering at the last moment, other councils have welcomed the surge of interest rather than criticised it.

Then the not so good news…

Allegations of postal vote fraud: the scale of the allegations, …

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Postal voting under police scrutiny

There have been two further recent reports of police investigations into postal vote allegations:

Police to investigate claims of postal vote fraud in council poll
… A complaint has been sent by the Conservative party to Derbyshire police about suspected fraud in the Sinfin ward in the Derby City Council local elections – which will be held on May 6, the same day as the General Election.

The complaint involves concerns that a voter was approached by men requesting her to fill in and sign three postal voting forms in favour of the Labour party… (Derby Telegraph)

Police probe ‘voting fraud’ at Bethnal

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Tower Hamlets: Labour activist investigated over postal vote fraud

From the Evening Standard:

Police are investigating allegations of postal vote fraud by a London activist linked to one of Labour’s highest-profile parliamentary candidates.

The Met is examining an email in which Anisur Rahman, a Labour branch secretary in Tower Hamlets, admits “helping” a dozen voters fill in postal vote forms for the European elections.

Mr Rahman then told Rushanara Ali, who will become Britain’s first Bangladeshi MP if she is elected in Bethnal Green and Bow, that he was encouraging other activists to do likewise “for the benefit of the party”.

Electoral Commission guidelines ban activists from helping voters to fill in ballot

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Jonathan Fryer’s Diary of a Euro-candidate

Saturday
Most of the day is spent at the Keynes Forum Policy Conference at LSE, at which one of the sessions is specifically about the European elections, or at least the interlinked campaign themes of the economy and the environment. Both Sharon Bowles (South East) and Fiona Hall (North East) are MEPs who know their briefs intimately, which is reassuring and underlines the value of electing people willing to specialise in specific fields. But through conversations during coffee breaks it becomes clear to me that local activists are really thirsting for simply-worded, bite-sized Euro-items they can just slot into their Focuses. …

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