Tower Hamlets residents voting in the 2018 local and Mayoral elections are to be excluded from the pilot of a scheme that requires voters to prove their identity at the ballot box.
The reason? Not enough time to inform voters before the May 2018 elections according to the Council’s Chief Executive.
This and more is contained in a letter from Cllr. Peter Golds, Leader of the Tower Hamlets Conservative Group, to Greg Hands MP, Minister for London at the Department for Communities and Local Government (see below).
“I am extremely concerned about a decision which will exacerbate our problems and which the Government should be aware. I was recently told by the Chief Executive [Will Tuckley] that the borough would not now be part of the 2018 pilot scheme whereby voters will be required to show ID. The reason given was lack of time to inform voters.”
Cllr. Golds is of the view that when the DCLG Commissioners were running the Town Hall there was no hint of the borough being excluded from the pilot. Maybe the will to get this done left the same day the Commissioners did.
The pilot scheme is part of the Government’s response to Sir Eric Pickles’ report Securing the ballot: review into electoral fraud . Sir Eric’s report was undertaken as a direct result of the corruption, electoral and otherwise, which had gripped Tower Hamlets by the throat and was choking it to death.
Local authorities were invited to apply to trial different types of identification, including forms of photo ID such as driving licenses and passports, or a utility bill to prove their address backed by a signature check. Voters would be asked to produce ID before they can be given their ballot paper.
It is not known if Tower Hamlets applied to be included in the scheme* although it was included in the original list of 18 areas where there was ‘a higher risk of allegations of electoral fraud’ published by the Electoral Commission.
The areas were Birmingham, Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Calderdale, Coventry, Derby, Hyndburn, Kirklees, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough, Slough, Tower Hamlets, Walsall, Woking, Luton, Bristol.
Presumably Tower Hamlets is no longer on this list.
Cllr. Golds also takes the Met’s Operation Lynemouth to task regarding the election court evidence that still remains unexamined by the Met as reported yesterday:
Peter Golds conclusion is what many have feared for some time – that the Met’s criminal investigation into Lutfur Rahman and the rampant corruption of the Tower Hamlets First administration will be allowed to wither and die.
(* Love Wapping has not contacted the Council for comment due to the Council media team apparently blacklisting LW by not responding to routine enquiries. We have contacted the Electoral Commission for comment as they do their jobs very well.)
Update 26 July 2017
This from the Electoral Commission:
“We are awaiting an announcement from the Cabinet Office as to which local authorities will be involved in voter ID pilots at next year’s local elections. Our role is to publish independent evaluations of these pilots for Government and Parliament to consider.”
It beggars belief that the very borough that has been at the centre of the worst allegations of electoral fraud is not included in the very scheme designed to eliminate it.
Tower Hamlets causes the problem but does not seem to want to be part of the solution.
With ten months until the 2018 local elections there is no excuse for not taking part in this vitally important trial.
Far from being a ‘beacon council’ the London Borough of Tower Hamlets seems to have plunged its flaming torch into a bucket of cold water, its good intentions turned to steam.
LW is on record as stating that unless there is a radical change in attitude by the authorities to the past, present and future issues of corruption and voting that the 2018 local and Mayoral elections will be as invalid as those of 2014.
That change in attitude is not currently evident. If this continues the 2018 elections will be a catastrophe, not just for the borough, not just for London but our society.
It may be that there is not the political will or ability to drag the borough out of the gutter politics of mutual loathing, division and tacit acceptance of corruption which continues to be the norm.
Maybe it is not the fault of the politicians? It could be that we are just witnessing the start of a gradual unravelling of the democratic process and the ultimate total breakdown of what we like to think of as society.
It is possible that the system in Tower Hamlets is not only broke but there is no way in the world to fix it.
Related Internet Links
- Eliminating electoral fraud in polling stations DCLG
- Electoral Fraud Briefing Electoral Commission (PDF)