By Cllr Clive Jefferson:
British National Party long term re-elected District Councillor in Pendle, Brian Parker, and the defending BNP Councillor in Marsden Ward, Adam Grant, together with British National Party Pendle Town Councillor John Rowe, ran a tremendous election campaign this year pushing for the re-election of Cllr Grant.
THE WORK Brian and John put in was truly incredible and they even travelled to Burnley regularly to help the campaign there, they deserve our thanks, our respect and to be mentioned in this article for their long term service to the British National Party and to the people of the wards they represent.
After a bitter struggle starting with the Lib Dem candidate dropping out after close of nominations and telling their supporters to vote Conservative (without this underhanded tactic Adam would have easily defended his seat), no less than 5 smear leaflets against Cllr Grant, a huge push by the Conservatives, aid by Lib Dem activists and the dirtiest campaign imaginable by Labour, our small dedicated team came very close to defying the odds and retaining the seat under the most brutal conditions.
But unfortunately for the constituents in Marsden ward our candidate was beaten by just 37 votes, coming in a very strong second and beating Labour despite their dirty tricks.
Election Results for Marsden Ward
Election date: 3rd May 2012
Ballot Papers Issued: 1043
Turnout: 39.8 %
Candidate's Name Party Votes Elected?
Azhar Ali Labour Party [The] 291 No
Tommy Cooney Conservative Party 391 Yes
Adam Christopher Grant British National Party 34.2% 354 No
So when I read the article this week in the local paper in Pendle about wholesale election fraud in towns up and down the North West I thought I should publish it:
Andrew Stephenson, Pendle MP, has accused members of the Asian community in the borough of taking part in electoral fraud involving postal votes.
He made the claims during a debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, where his associate, Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, said he had heard ‘reports of wholesale fraud on an industrial scale’ in the town.
Pendle Council said that three complaints regarding postal voting in the borough elections on May 3 had been brought to police attention.
Police are also investigating postal and proxy votes in two wards in Blackburn with Darwen,and another investigation is ongoing into votes in Hyndburn.
Mr Stephenson said that South Asian women in Pendle had expressed concerns to him and said they had oblivious as to who they voted for because their husbands had done it for them, a practice known as ‘family voting’.
Labour leader for Pendle, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, said he took ‘great offence’ to the proposition that South Asian women had not voted for themselves.
Mr Stephenson made the comments during a deliberation on the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill in the House of Commons.
He said: “This is a particular issue in the South Asian community and indeed I have met Asian women in my constituency, who have told me they have no idea who they voted for as their husband did it.
“However, needless to say because of the close family ties and bonds of loyalty, this is not going to be reported to the police or investigated by anyone.
“Apart from electoral fraud taking place, and women and young people losing their right to vote in some households, such goings-on play into a narrative that gives an impetus to groups like the BNP and the EDL.
”I say we cannot allow this to happen.
“We cannot allow electoral fraud and the suspicion of electoral fraud to continue and become another reason for undermining community cohesion.
“It is clear that there is a cultural element to this.
“The current on the demand postal voting regime actively disenfranchises women and young people by allowing “family voting” to occur.
“By family voting I mean where the head of a household will pledge every one of his families votes to a particular political party.
“He can then ensure that this happens by watching other family members complete their postal ballots, or by completing the ballots himself, or indeed by completing them with an activist from the said political party.”
Mr Stephenson also accused the Labour Party of undermining tactics in its achievements in the Reedley ward during the borough council elections earlier in May.
He stated that in 2010,in Reedley, there were 800 postal votes where 3,049 people voted, with the Conservative candidate securing 49 per cent of the vote and being ‘easily elected’.
In 2011, Reedley saw a 25 per cent increase in postal votes and this year, a further increase of almost 25 per cent, an increase of 479 postal votes in two years.
The Pendle MP said: “Virtually all were from the British Pakistani Community and virtually all were signed up on to postal votes by the Labour Party.
“Not coincidentally, Labour candidates were elected on both occasions. The Conservative vote did not collapse. The Labour victory was not on trend across the constituency. Nonetheless, their support in Reedley rocketed.
“I accept that it is theoretically possible that local support for the Labour candidate did increase significantly, however the 45 per cent increase in the Labour vote in 2011, against the backdrop of an 18 per cent drop in turnout, and given the huge increase in postal votes and reports of party activists walking in to polling stations with piles of 50 votes at a time maybe indicates that was not what really happened.
“It is not so much that the numbers do not add up, but rather that they do.”
Cllr Iqbal replied: “In Reedley the Conservatives have taken that ward for granted and that is why they lost, but they have had over 800 postal voters signed up in the past there.
“It is quite clear this is a case of sour grapes.
They have lost wards they have historically won by a big margin.”
Cllr Joe Cooney, leader of the council, said: “People have to come forward and be honest, and if anybody has any evidence then they have to go the police to report it.”
A new bill aims to confront electoral fraud by speeding up the opening of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) so it is in place by 2015.
Currently, one person in every household is accountable for enrolling everyone else who dwells at that address. This plan is for each person being obliged to register to vote individually, rather than by household.
A fine could also be implemented for those who do not apply to be registered when asked to do so by the Electoral Registration Officer.
Blackburn MP and former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw said: “What Mr Stephenson has described sounds awful. It is unlawful and should not happen.
“I think there is an even bigger problem where the list of postal voters is published before the election. It is just too tempting for some political workers to abuse.
“It is wrong when someone in the household is dictating how other voters cast their vote but it is not a problem that is exclusively confined to the South Asian community.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor Tony Greaves, who proposed a motion at the authority’s annual meeting launching an investigation into postal vote fraud, declared “It is clear that the family voting tradition in the South Asian community has come into postal voting in some areas of Pendle like Nelson and Brierfield. Mr Stephenson is quite right about this and we need to see an end to postal voting on demand.”
Birtwistle continued in the same debate: “It is not just postal voting but impersonation where some people present themselves at the polling station as someone else to vote. We suspected this but could not produce any hard evidence for the returning officers but we do need an investigation.
“This was happening in wards like Daneshouse, Queensgate and Stoneyholme, where the turnout went up to 60 per cent, and the majority of the community is Asian.
“They appear to have been voting for the winning Labour candidates.
We need an end to postal voting on demand and possible even asking people to produce photo-identification at polling stations to stop electoral fraud.”
Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry said: “I do think there are questions about postal voting and electoral fraud being problem in particular ethnic groups.
“I have heard anecdotal reports about this with the Asian community in Blackburn from party workers but have no direct evidence myself.
“I do support Andrew in cracking down on postal voting on demand except where people can prove they need it.”
The House of Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans said: “This is a problem in some communities and we are not just talking the South Asian community.
It happens in some Eastern European families and indeed in some fine ‘Olde English’ communities.
“There needs to be a government investigation.
We cannot have our MPs going round the world telling other people how to run elections if this type of family voting is going on at home. ”
This is what we are up against and it is a scandal that we need to face head on.
We MUST harvest our own block postal vote – that is the key to regaining these seats – but also we MUST take action against this endemic fraud taking place on an industrial scale right throughout the country.
I am going to take legal advice on this and see if we can get the ballot papers re-examined – especially the postal ballot papers. WATCH THIS SPACE.
How can you help?
Please spend a few minutes writing a polite email outlining your concerns and DEMANDING action.
Ring and email Pendle Borough Council, the police and the local newspaper and ask them what action they intend to take about the election fraud that took place in the recent May elections were Asian postal votes were fraudulently filled in and posted by the men of the family? Quote the MP in the above article and demand that:
A) The police investigate
B) The council launch a full independent investigation that includes the independent scrutiny of the postal ballots case, the signatures on said postal applications in Pendle and Burnley.
C) Cast doubt on the outcome of the elections and demand a new set of elections are held with international observers and the Electoral Commission monitoring events as clearly confidence in the electoral system has been destroyed.
Telephone 01282 661661
Fax 01282 661630
Ask for a written reply with exactly what action is being taken.
Also ring or email the newspaper.
And the local police at