Monday, November 16, 2009

Did the SNP Throw Glasgow NE?

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.

Imagine that.

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.


McGonagall said...

Hmm - did they throw it? Never thought about that possibility. They didn't bother fighting it because it wasn't worth the effort? Good point.

subrosa said...

The thought did occur to me early on that the SNP weren't too worried about this campaign. If they had been concerned they would have ensured their first candidate was fully vetted surely, or don't they do that anymore?

David Kerr doesn't have anything to be ashamed of but I was disappointed with his Newnicht interview. Perhaps it was nerves being back in that environment.

It was a lacklustred campaign which is most surprisingl after Glenrothes.

Nobody has mentioned this Irish company that labour pays to help with campaigns. I've blogged on it a couple of times.

The Glasgow NE register. Is the SNP again going to leave it weeks before they request it? Was 7 weeks for Glenrothes.

Clarinda said...

Having read and thought about many disappointed views as to why the SNP appeared only to have held their percentage share of the vote without closing the gap - perhaps the choice either to get down and dirty to rebuff some of the manipulated parochial toot from Labour or launch the core value Independence principles would not be appropriate for that particular intransigent local Labour electorate nor the SNP's need to select the right time and place to initiate their national Independence campaign.
I'm just hoping that behind the scenes the SNP are putting the finishing touches to a pincer movement of using the driving force of clear Independence core values and rationale to drive the specifics needed to fight each local GE constituency campaign. Time is now of the essence and the money required must be well focused.

Anonymous said...

With respect, this is mince. The SNP gave Glasgow East its best shot and got stuffed. The idea that it in part did this deliberately is complete nonsense. The reality is that the SNP has a political problem making itself relevant in seats like this in the current economic and political situation. It needs to concentrate on finding solutions to this fundamental problem rather than trying to explain it all away by labour fraud.

If there was fraud i think you need some proof, and as you say yourself, the scale of the defeat made fraud unnecessary anyway.

Indy said...

Actually the SNP won Glasgow East.

OutLander said...

Cheers, Scunnert One.

OutLander said...

Hi Rosie,

The choice of Kerr was also a strange one. I never thought the Glasgow folk would go for him, even if he was born in the middle of Springburn Shopping Centre. I don't know - too polished, maybe. Glasgow folk vote for who they know, or who they think is one of them.

After proving they can win in Glasgow, and then losing in Glenrothes, something just didn't quite add up. There was no aggression. They just seemed to sit back on the ropes and let Labour land blow after blow.

Labour needed to win Glasgow NE a lot more than the SNP. And after May, they'll be history anyway.

OutLander said...


I think the SNP are gearing up to 'get down and dirty' on a national basis for the independence referendum. I think they are expecting a very grubby affair. They got a taste of what to expect in Glasgow NE.

And as I said to Rosie, I think the key in Glasgow is a well-known local candidate. There is a real siege mentality in parts of the city, and if they see someone they regard as one of their own, someone with a record for fighting their corner, he or she will get their vote.

And Labour's take on their victory, especially after the negative anti-Scottish Govt campaign they ran, as 'a vote of approval for Gordon Brown' will backfire on them badly in other parts of Scotland.

OutLander said...

Citizen Dumb,

"the scale of the defeat made fraud unnecessary anyway."

A slight flaw in your logic here. By your reasoning, if something turns out to have been unnecessary, it didn't happen.

With respect, THIS is mince.

OutLander said...

Hi Indy,

Well spotted. I had to read it again.

Citizen Dumb indeed.

Anonymous said...

"Did the SNP Throw Glasgow NE?", is the headline of this article.......but it is me that is "Citizen Dumb"

Yeh that's right, the brilliant SNP leadership deliberately got brilliant that they forgot to tell anyone in their own party.,,,,until now...and then only if you read this blog.

Meanwhile, the brilliant SNP leadership allowed labour to fiddle the vote by thousands, but was not brilliant enough to come up with a single piece of evidence to expose this mass electoral fraud. Even these UN observers in Afghanisatan were apparently more on the ball.

And after May 2010 Labour will not "be history", but the official opposition both sides of the border, something the SNP needs to waken up to.

OutLander said...

Oh, you’re back, CD,

Where to begin?

Did you even engage your brain before you put fingers to keyboard?

The headline was a discussion point. The article discussed it. And decided no. The post made the case that perhaps the SNP did not ‘deliberately get stuffed’ but that it didn’t bust a gut to win - because it had bigger fish to fry.

Not quite the same thing.

Re electoral fraud - how on earth can you come up with evidence BEFORE something has happened? Did you even read the post?

The ‘official opposition’? Sorry, but after May 2010, Labour might even be the third party in the UK. But the good news for you is that it might be official.

Tell me, how many pairs of Labour underpants do you get issued with when you join?

Dark Lochnagar said...

A very interesting post, Outlander. There appeared to be something far wrong with the SNP campaign as at no time publically or privately to members did they sound confident. Only time will tell but if it was not planned, I hope the powers that be realise that they have to change tack.

OutLander said...

“I hope the powers that be realise that they have to change tack”

Interesting choice of phrase, DL.

The SNP have assumed the levers and gravitas of power, and are in many respects the ‘powers that be’ in Scotland, while at the same time supposedly the revolutionary party fighting for an independent Scotland, free of the neo-colonial ‘powers that be’ in London.

It’s as if they are both government and rebels at the same time. Not an easy act to pull off.

The danger is that they become the conservative ‘powers that be’ of order and the status quo in Scotland, and forget how to fight. But I don’t think this will happen – there’s too much to fall out with Westminster about. Nor do I think what happened in Glasgow NE is a symptom of a wider malaise in the party. Hence the post.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I have come to this article a bit late but.

I was browsing methods of coitting electoral fraud and came across this one, actually posted by the BNP!

All it needs is two or so electoral officials at a station or two and the near certainty of a low turnout.

At 9pm official a selects out a certain number of no shows and selects ballot papers for them.

At 9:50 he fills them in and crosses off the voting list as having voted.

At 9:58 he puts them in the box.

The only person who has seen this is his oppo who is his ate and in on the fraud.

Where do the polling station officials come from? From the local authority in which the vote is taking place.

Anybody see where I a going.

I live abroad and thus have not voted for years in the UK so I a not up to date on security measures and procedures.

I posted this question on the Tom Harris and was set about in quite a political smearing way, questioning if I was a BNP member. I know how the tactics of politicians work and how they avoid answering questions but this was a political savvy sear job.

All I ask is, is this technically possible?

OutLander said...

Sorry I missed your comment, Bugger.

In answer to your question, absolutely. Did it happen at Glenrothes or Glasgow NE? That's what we need to know.

The more I learn about electoral fraud, the more I am coming to the opinion that this idea that it only happens elsewhere is a fantasy.

Check out my earlier post on this too:

PS Think your 'm' key might be on the blink.