Postal vote concern

Via Nick Barlow’s blog, the Guardian is reporting about the recent up-surge in applications for postal votes, up by a third in some areas, which the Metropolitan police suspect may be a vehicle for massive fraud:

Judge Richard Mawrey QC … has heard evidence of wholesale theft of votes in the city, with thousands of postal ballots being diverted to a “safe house”, where they were allegedly filled in on an “industrial scale”. He concluded: “Someone who was so inclined could defraud the system.”

The article notes that inner-city areas with high ethnic minority populations are at high risk of “manipulation”, in which heads of households instruct their families to cast their votes for “their” candidate - of course, if the voting is done in the privacy of home, he can stand over them while they do it, or even do it for them. This isn’t the same thing as voting fraud, but the right of an individual to vote is granted to them, not to their husband or father.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with someone giving directions to someone else on how to vote, and people rushing to accuse patriarchal Muslims should note two things. First, this goes on among other religious groups also - articles at this site (which I don’t think are still there) have in the past clearly stated that the authors’ husbands or fathers cast their votes for them. Second, this often doesn’t work to the benefit of the Muslim community, but furthers tribal and caste politics.

There is, for example, a campaign going in Jack Straw’s Blackburn constituency to unseat him; the group MPAC UK have been particularly vociferous on this. Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan who is standing (or planning to stand) against him, alleges that Straw has elevated two “patriarchs” of the local Gujarati community to the Lords, as well as made “an official visit to Gujarat only last month, where he made much of Home Office proposals to make it easier to get visas to visit relatives”.

Other Muslims, such as MPAC UK, aren’t so impressed by his political favours, and want him out. They point out that there are 25,000 Muslims in Blackburn, and his majority is only 9,000. You can say what you like about the tone of this group’s website (I have, many times, in the past), and about whether Murray is really the man for the job. Here we have a group which is running a campaign to unseat an MP they see as detrimental to the affairs of the Muslim community, rather than the Gujaratis or some biraderi or other. Such campaigns may be undermined if local voters are induced to follow their tribal loyalties, rather than their conscience.

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