Three Labour members jailed for vote-rigging

A former city mayor has been jailed for nine months after being convicted of vote-rigging.

Labour’s Mohammed Choudhary, 49, former mayor of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was jailed at King’s Lynn Crown Court.

Party candidate Maqbool Hussein, 52, was jailed for three months and Tariq Mahmood, 40, received a 15-month term.

All three from Peterborough, were convicted of forgery over a scheme to fabricate votes for the Peterborough city council election in June 2004. (BBC)

One question: is there something wrong with a system that takes four years for a relatively small case such as this to be resolved?

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  • I don’t like to be a pedant (first lie of the day there) but now that it is a unitary and not connected to Cambridgeshire in any way – can we all finally get it into our heads that Peterborough is in Northamptonshire?!

    As to the story – I suppose it’s better to take a long time than go around jailing people on the offchance. We argue for terror suspects to get a fair trial before they go to jail, the same has to apply to vote-rigging.

    I don’t know the details of the case but if it’s anything like other vote-rigging scandals we’ve heard about I would imagine it involves very tight-knit communities where getting people to give evidence is quite difficult.

  • I’m probably going with a large stick to a nest of angry wasps here, but . . . .

    Has anybody kept a record of “vote-rigging” convictions over the past few years; and can anyone provide a breakdown by ethnicity?

    My impression is that a high proportion have related to candidates of Asian ethnicity. Is this accurate?

    And if it is true . . . what does it imply?

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '08 - 10:47am

    Both eastender and crewegwyn’s points are valid – there does seem to be a phenomenon whereby all political parties are concerned that they don’t have many ethnic minority members, and so if someone from an ethnic minority wants to join and become active, they don’t ask too many questions, they’re just delighted to have him (it usually is him, in these cases, isn’t it?).

    Political culture in the Indian subcontinent is different from here – parties are much more about personal loyalties and vehicles for power, and less about ideology, and there’s more of a “fair means or foul” approach to elections. This is why, though we find it embarrassing to admit it, a high proportion of these vote-rigging cases, from all parties, seem to involve members whose cultural background is from the Indian subcontinent.

  • The old maxim that when someone presents him/herself as a candidate two questions must be asked: (1) is he a liberal? (2) is he capable of doing the job?, is as valid now as the day it was coined.

    There is a distinction between ballot-rigging (which is a crime) and abuse of membership (a pratice associated with, but not exclusive to, people of South Asian background).

    The great exponent of the latter practice was the late Piara Khabra MP, who went out with a membership pad and recruited hundreds and hundreds of members so that he could win the selection contest. These were members recruited at the lowest rate for the single purpose of backing Khabra, not because they necessarily supported the Labour Party.

    Sadly, Khabra has been emulated, not just in the Labour Party, but in the Lib Dems as well. Dr Evan Harris recruited a huge batch of ex patients to win the selection in OXWAB, did he not? Or am I misinformed on this point?

    There was a debate a number of years ago between Steve Hitchens, who saw membership as a fundraising device, and Simon Hughes, who regarded it as ownership of the Party’s assets and belonging in the wider sense. Hughes wanted a signed statement of loyalty to the Party’s aims and objects, something Hitchens resisted very strenuously.

    Political parties have a habit of accommodating strange bedfellows where there is money in the air. For instance, Brentwood Conservatives and the Peniel Pentecostal Church, the old Liberal Party and the School of Economic Science, and the attempt by Exegesis to climb on board the SDP (though Owen, to his credit, pulled to plug when someone explained to him what Exigesis was).

  • Viqaas Tariq Azis and Sharaaz Mahmood 14th Jul '08 - 1:42pm

    I think that whatever Mr. Mahmood and the other two canidates did was an accident the might have made a mistake, the might have not knew what mess they were going to get themselves in to, i think that everybody deserves another chance, so we all need to give them another chance!!!

    Viqaas and Sharaaz

  • With due respect to Viqaas and Sharaaz the court was told that these gentlemen had arranged for postal votes to be sent not to the addresses of the voters, but to addresses connected to the defendants.

    I’m not sure how that can be “an accident”.

  • There are pages and pages of advice on this sort of thing from both the party, the local council and the electoral commission so to suggest that you can steal someone else’s vote from them “by accident” seems a little much.

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