So now we’ve had two Scottish by-elections in twelve months with suspected electoral fraud. And, if true, both perpetrated by the same party running the government of the United Kingdom.
It appears that Glasgow’s Labour-controlled Council added nearly 2,500 new voters to the electoral role in October alone. In addition, over 6,000 applications for postal votes were received. Postal votes are one of the easiest ways to commit electoral fraud in Britain.
It gets worse. From The Scotsman:
It emerged last night that police were called to two polling stations, St Dennis's and Alexandra Parade, yesterday, after voters arriving to cast their ballot were told their names had already been crossed off. The ballot boxes were handed over to the police, but the disputed ballots were still counted last night. Officials at Glasgow City Council said only three ballot papers were involved.
If things are as bad as they seem, Glasgow NE may turn out to be another Glenrothes, surely the most single minded act of political will in history. In case you have forgotten: a year ago, and with no assistance from any political party activists whatsoever, the good people of Glenrothes painstakingly filled out nearly 6,000 postal voting forms in the privacy of their own homes before carefully mailing them at their nearest letter box personally. The post office then conscientiously delivered them by normal mail to be counted on election day in the counting room. And, rather than reflecting the same spread of votes for all the parties reflected at the polling stations, every single one of them was for Labour.
Humbled by the unanimity of the Glenrothes postal voters’ rejection, the SNP chose not to make a legal challenge at the time, thereby avoiding the accusation of sour grapes.
Or it may have been because the marked-up electoral register from the by-election went mysteriously ‘missing’ and, lacking a record of who had actually voted, it would have taken too long to prove what had happened and by which time nobody would have cared. Over a year since the by-election, it has still not been reconstructed.
The point is this: the SNP suspected Labour of massive electoral fraud at Glenrothes, but the hard evidence went missing.
Fast forward six months to May this year. The Commons Speaker Michael Martin resigns for expenses irregularities, and Glasgow is due another by-election. Having already proved that they could unseat Labour in Glasgow East in 2008, the SNP could afford to lose it. There was less to be gained from winning such a by-election at all costs, six months out from a UK general election in which Labour are facing annihilation. With Gordon Brown expected to hang on for as long as possible, an SNP victory would not have brought this day one second closer.
Think about it. In the coming UK election, the head of Scottish Labour – the present UK Government – will be removed from its shoulders regardless of how many seats the SNP wins at Westminster in May. After the election, UK Labour will be an irrelevance, regardless of how many seats it has on the opposition benches.
And regardless of whether London is ‘dancing to a Scottish jig’ or ‘hung by a Scottish rope’ after May 2010 – even if the SNP wins every single Scottish seat in Westminster – Scotland would still be no nearer getting its referendum over the line. In fact, if the SNP starts calling the shots in a hung Tory government, the present constitutional arrangement may well start to look remarkably beneficial for Scotland.
Which might make it preferable for many to independence.
So, what am I saying? That the SNP deliberately threw the Glasgow NE by-election?
No. But they did certainly did not throw everything at it.
Until independence, the SNP main game will be the referendum. It needs four things for it to succeed: a Holyrood budget to fund it, the parliament to allow it to happen, a cleaned-up electoral system for a fair run at it and, of course, the political will of the Scottish people to vote for it.
When the Glasgow NE By-election was called, SNP was faced with a dilemma: fight Labour tooth and nail for several grueling months for a by-election that changes nothing, or put up a high profile candidate with enough credibility to once more draw out Labour’s suspected electoral fraud machine, which would be mobilised to make damn sure Labour did not lose its second safest seat.
The SNP strategists knew Labour would fight dirty. A hard-won by-election would have sapped the SNP of funds with no return on investment other than being one voice louder on Westminster’s opposition benches for the next six months. In the event, Salmond chose to keep his powder dry for the referendum, running a by-the-numbers by-election and saving party funds for when it mattered. David Kerr was the bait and Labour took it.
Kerr should feel no sense of shame or failure for how he performed. He may even be aware of why he was running. He is certainly no fool.
In the event, Labour won by 8,111 votes over the SNP’s 4,120. The irony being that electoral fraud – if indeed it was committed – was unnecessary, and Labour might have still won had they chosen to campaign cleanly. Or, at least, by only telling outright lies and utter fabrications about the SNP record in Glasgow.
So what was the point of all this?
The Scottish Government desperately wants to clean up the Scottish electoral system before the referendum on independence. However long it takes. With the evidence now gathered from possibly the second fraudulent by-election in twelve months, steps can now be taken to neutralise Labour’s suspected electoral fraud machine in Scotland.
Unless another marked-up electoral register going missing.