By Tim Montgomerie
In an interview with the New Statesman Tory Chairman Sayeeda Warsi alleges that at least three seats were lost to the Tories because of electoral fraud. This fraud was largely amongst the Asian population, she suggests, and benefited Labour.
The remarks came within a wide-ranging interview with the NS's Political Editor, Mehdi Hasan:
“At least three seats where we lost, where we didn’t gain the seat, based on electoral fraud. Now, could we have planned for that in the campaign? Absolutely not.”
This is the first time a senior minister has made such a blunt and specific allegation about the impact of electoral fraud on the general election result. Can she reveal the names of those seats? “I think it would be wrong to start identifying them,” she says, but adds: “It is predominantly within the Asian community. I have to look back and say we didn’t do well in those communities, but was there something over and above that we could have done? Well, actually not, if there is going to be voter fraud.”
Did Labour benefit from the alleged “fraud”? “Absolutely,” Warsi says, without hesitation. The peer says she has written to Clegg, who is overseeing the coalition’s reforms to the electoral system, to highlight the issue of fraud and voter disenfranchisement."
A Labour spokesperson told the BBC that the Tory Chairman's allegations were "unsubstantiated" and she should share any evidence she had with the electoral authorities.
On Platform recently Tower Hamlets councillor Tim Archer, who fought Poplar and Limehouse at the last election, called for reform of the voting process to protect against fraud. He noted that "a quarter of Parliamentary Candidates surveyed [by the Electoral Commission] had concerns about election fraud taking place in their constituency and 28% thought that voting was unsafe." He explained the problem (my emphasis):
"Elections in Tower Hamlets and other urban areas demonstrate that our current system has three major flaws which are open to abuse. Anyone can go on the electoral register, anyone can apply for a postal vote whether they need one or not and ballot papers are given out at polling stations to people based on trusting they are who they say they are, rather than proving who they are. Believe me, you have to provide more proof to borrow a library book in Tower Hamlets than you do to vote in one of its elections. Moving to individual voter registration rather than household registration, combined with the need to provide a National Insurance number will help with the voter registration issue and the government now needs to implement this as soon as possible."
Read Tim's full piece.