Sunday, April 10, 2005
A young postman, quoted today in the Sunday Telegraph, is quite certain that postal voting leads to fraud. Within an hour of delivering the postal ballot papers, he is asked which streets he has delivered to. Houses are then visited and votes taken away.
Yet Mr Blair has said that postal voting is "no more prone to fraud than any other systems"
The postman, whose round is in a predominantly Asian area of Bradford near the university, says:
- "I guarantee that as soon as I deliver ballot papers for the general election, people will be taking them.
I will have them asking, 'What streets have you done?' Then they will go around to people they know. Many don't understand the forms, so they will tell people, 'Just give it to us. We will fill it in for you.' It will probably happen all over Bradford, in the Asian areas.
I have seen people with bags full of papers within an hour of doing my round. They all do it, every party. It will happen at the general election, at every election."
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reveals that, after a government-commissioned study showed safeguards would reduce the turnout of key Labour voters such as the young and poor, the government ditched a bill to combat postal voting fraud. At a cabinet committee, held on April 20 last year and chaired by Peter Hain, a decision was taken that the safeguards were "clearly needed" to prevent electoral fraud in postal votes. But a bill to deliver safeguards was ditched.
- "One of the main proposals was that people should be required to apply for their postal vote on a signed form and that should be cross-checked against their signature on the ballot paper. This proposal had the backing of both the police and the Electoral Commission, the quango created to ensure fairness in elections.
Yesterday's marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla was watched avidly by a large proportion of French viewers on the second channel here. The commentary was friendly, knowledgeable and erudite. All the invitees and all the members of the royal family were recognised and named. There was no irony in the description of the spectacle. Mr Blair's entry into St George's chapel showed his lack of ease - but the royal couple themselves were touching in their calm dignity and evident mutual affection. Are we to lose all this? The House of Lords, itself one of our last strongholds for the safeguarding of democracy, is no longer considered part of the UK Parliament (see Booker's Notebook)
Mr Blair is fond of saying things like "we are delivering as promised, and will deliver much more if we win that third term." In this almost-republic, what Mr Blair is delivering is bananas.