MP talks up postal voting after “Jew-hating racists” elected

June 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm 4 comments


A Labour MP has said the Electoral Commission should look “much more seriously” at all-postal voting after the British National Party won two seats in the European Parliament elections earlier this month.

Denis MacShane represents, Rotherham, part of the Yorkshire and the Humber Euro election region.

BNP member Andrew Brons was elected for the region – the party’s leader Nick Griffin won a seat in the North West.

Mr MacShane was speaking during questions to the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission.

“Is it not a fact that we have elected two Jew-hating racists to represent us in the European Parliament—we have done so in the form of British National party electors—even though in Yorkshire the BNP got fewer votes in 2004?” he asked.

“What is the reason? In the 2004 European Parliament elections, there was an all-postal ballot and almost twice as many people voted.

“I understand that there are some fiddles in postal voting, but we must look much more seriously at encouraging all-postal ballots, because that is the best way to prevent the fascists from being elected to represent our nation.”

Answering on behalf of the commission, Tory MP Gary Streeter said the Electoral Commission supports “a thorough modernisation of electoral processes in this country and has made recommendations to the government, but the electoral systems that we employ in this country are very much a matter for this House, not the Electoral Commission.”

Lib Dem MP David Heath said people do vote in large numbers “when these two circumstances apply: first, they think that the body that is being elected matters to them; and, secondly, they think that their vote will actually make a difference—that their vote counts.

“Are not those the issues that we, not the Electoral Commission, ought to consider so that we make our electoral system fit for purpose?”

Mr. Streeter said a number of issues can affect voter turnout.

Tory MP Andrew Mackay said it would be useful for the Electoral Commission to investigate and produce a report the recent European elections.

“Most of us believe that the prospect of voting for a list puts people off voting, but that people do like to vote for an individual elected representative,” he said.

“As the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr MacShane) just said, a system that allows an extremist party to be elected with a small number of votes is not a system that we should encourage.”

Mr Streeter said the commission is carrying out a survey of the effectiveness of the recent elections to the European Parliament.

He also told MPs that the Electoral Commission “is not opposed in principle to moving polling day to the weekend, ” in response to a question from Linda Riordan.

“However, it does not support such a change at present because there is a lack of compelling evidence to show that such an arrangement would be more convenient or accessible for electors, and increase turnout.

“As has been said, there are a number of reasons why voters do not turn up to vote at elections. Many relate to the political parties and our conduct in the House. All of us—not only the Electoral Commission—should consider how to increase voter turnout in this country.”


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Richard Rothwell  |  June 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    No! Postal voting is wide open to abuse – though not ass bad as electronic voting.

    The answer is to re-invigorate the voting system by making people feel that they are voting for someone important – not some minion of a political party. Finding some way to separate the legislature from the executive is a top priority.

  • 2. Liam  |  June 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Fixing the voting system rather than dealing with policy? How very New Labour…

  • 3. JJ  |  June 21, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Why should women have an independent vote? Any of them who are smaller and weaker than their partners, or could be coerced by other means like threats to their children should just vote the way their menfolk demand.

    Or, just maybe, a secret vote not susceptible to examination by a third party is valuable?

    And of course men are not exempt from compulsion by employers or church leaders.

    (Fanciful? Hilary Clinton did better in primaries where there was a secret ballot compared with similar towns which had open caucuses.)

  • 4. Rebel Saint  |  June 21, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    There are a number of very big assumptions here, not least being the idea that everyone who didn’t turn out to vote would have NOT voted for the BNP. I suspect the opposite is actually true. The core BNP support is found amongst the social housing projects, predominantly inhabited by ‘working class’ whites – exactly the same group of people who historically can’t be arsed to vote! I suspect the BNP’s share of the vote would increase dramatically if these people could be encouraged/persuaded/cajoled to cast their vote.

    The 2nd problem is that where postal voting has been used there have been ‘irregularities’ that have left us looking like a banana republic. When people feel duped you get reactions like we see in Iran. And – whether this makes me Islamaphobic or not, I do not care – a disproportionate number of postal voting irregularities were carried out by which community?! More fuel to the BNP’s fire.

    I just wish MP’s would realise that the way to defeat the BNP is to actually beat them, not rig the system against them! Look at the opinion polls and see the fact that Immigration issues dwarves most of the others in people list of concerns. Address the issues. Stop treating the electorate as idiots.


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