The 2015 General Election result was a shock. But we know that the Conservatives won because of ‘Shy Tories’, ‘late swing voters’, Milliband was too Left-wing and a vote in England against the SNP, don’t we? And your feelings tell you election fraud in the UK is a ridiculous idea, don’t they? But, then look at the facts. Voter fraud cases have gone to court. In April 2015, a court removed, Lutfur Rahman from the elected position of Tower Hamlet Mayor after he was found guilty of corrupt practices in the election. The judgment included fraudulent use of the postal vote. Fraud in local elections are not rare, as the news website, Get Surrey shows:
Woking Borough Council postal vote election fraud trial begins. 13 APR 2015, BY GUY MARTIN Relatives of Liberal Democrat candidate who won seat on council by 16 votes are standing trial accused of conspiracy to defraud. http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/woking-borough-council-postal-vote-9035336
What about national elections? This is what the political website, Politics Homes says
Eric Pickles to investigate electoral fraud …corruption in the electoral system was one of the things he hoped to explore since it ‘undermines democracy’. He said an unnamed chief executive had recently told him of being ‘quite amazed to find that on polling day itself 5,000 postal votes were handed in’. Speaking to Radio 4’s World at One Sir Eric argued the account ‘raises eyebrows at the very least’. He said postal voting was something he wanted to have a ‘long, hard’ look at. Sir Eric also insisted it was ‘fair to say’ that the recent case of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets was ‘an extreme example of what’s happened but it wouldn’t be isolated? http://www.politicshome.com/party-politics/articles/story/ericpickles-investigate-electoral-fraud
So, what is the evidence about the General Election? An examination would show that the Conservatives won the election on the basis of postal votes in marginal constituencies. According to the British Election Study 2015, the vote for the Labour Party went up by 3.6% and they won 15 seats whereas the Conservative vote went up by 1.4% – they gained 21 seats. The real puzzle is what happened to the Lib Dem vote. Many expected disaster for the Lib Dems because they let many of their voters down by backing a Conservative coalition government. Many expected wholesale desertion to Labour and minority parties. What happened? Where Labour could have won, Lib Dems voted Conservative and where Lib Dems could have beat the Tories won, Lib Dems voted Labour. This is what gave Conservatives a majority. According to the British Election Study:
…That is to say, it was Labour’s vote gains that helped to deprive Labour of an overall majority or largest party status. There was a tactical unwind that cost the Liberal Democrats seats but delivered those seats to the Conservatives. The question of why former Lib-Dem voters shifted allegiance to the Conservatives in cases where they could have voted for and elected a Labour MP is more puzzling. Among 2010 Lib-Dem voters in our sample, 7 per cent were former Tories and 25 per cent were former Labour voters. There should have been a much greater potential Lib-Dem-to-Labour switch than Lib-Dem-to-Conservative (at least if we look at the campaign). We need to better understand what motivated these voters….’ http://bit.ly/1F84rRn
What is actually being said is that where Lib Dem voters could have helped Labour defeat the Tories, they voted Tory. And where they could have helped the Lib Dem beat the Tories, they voted Labour. So, basically Lib Dem voters rewarded the Conservatives for their handling of the economy with the Lib Dems and punished the Lib Dems for keeping the Tories in power. Does that make sense? So, what evidence is there that the postal vote in the marginals won it? What did Labour Uncut say?
Revealed: Ed’s night-time dash to casa Brand driven by postal ballot panic by Atul Hatwal Uncut has learned the real reason for Ed Miliband’s sudden night-time visit to Russell Brand?s Shoreditch home: panic caused by the early tallies of postal ballots being fed back to party HQ, from marginals around the country. Labour is behind and urgently needs to reach out to new voter groups. Russell Brand was a means to that end. Postal voting started in mid-April. Over 5 million are expected to cast their ballot in this way and over the last week, local teams from all parties have attended postal vote opening sessions in each constituency.’ http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2015/05/02/revealed-eds-nighttime-dash-to-casa-brand-driven-by-postal-ballot-panic/
So, marginals won it for the Conservatives and the postal vote was important in the marginals. What was the situation in the marginals during the run up to the election: Labour was ahead. The Spectator asked Tory funder and pollster, Lord Ashcroft.
Poll of key marginal seats finds swing towards Labour 17 March 2015 Sebastian Payne Lord Ashcroft has polled eight key constituencies, of which seven are currently held by Conservatives and one by Labour that he visited six months ago to see who is winning. In these seats, Ashcroft has found there is currently a five per cent swing away from the Conservatives. http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/03/poll-of-key-marginal-seats-finds-swing-towards-labour/
Lord Ashcroft admitted that Labour Party was ahead of the Tories in campaigning in the marginals.
Is there a problem with the Tory ground war in the marginals? And if so, how big is it? By Mark Wallace Lord Ashcroft’s latest batch of polling in Lab/Con marginals included an interesting note on how the campaigns are being carried out: ‘Most people said they had had literature, direct mail, phone calls or visits from both main parties, but Labour have the edge in these local campaigns on the basis of this evidence. More than 70 per cent had heard from Labour in half the seats polled.’ http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2015/04/is-there-a-problem-with-the-tory-ground-war-in-the-marginals-and-if-so-how-big-is-it.html
So, in the run up to the elections Labour was ahead in the marginals and had a better campaign than the Tories. But the Tories won. How was that? Well, let’s look at some news stories about the election. Postal ballot forms for a marginal goes missing:
General Election 2015: Investigation into reports of ‘missing’ Wirral postal vote forms 6 MAY 2015, by Liam Murphy Wirral council confirms they have reissued postal ballot papers to several addresses in heswall An investigation is to be launched into reports of missing postal vote papers in Wirral. The local authority has confirmed it has had more than three dozen requests for ballot papers to be re-issued in the closely fought Wirral South marginal seat – but insists the papers had been sent out. Wirral South is one of the marginal seats which could decide the General Election – Labour held the seat with a majority of just 531 back in 2010. http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/general-election-20 15-investigation-reports-9195178
Concerns over ballot rigging after last-minute flood of postal votes A last-minute deluge of postal votes allegedly sparked concerns about ballot rigging at Milton Keynes Council. Instead of the anticipated four or five ballot boxes, 18 brimming boxes containing more than 4,600 votes turned up at the council offices yesterday. http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/local/concerns-over-ballot-rigging- after-last-minute-flood-of-postal-votes-1-6730869
General Election 2015: City Council ballot papers blunder forces Stoke South recount By Claire__Smyth May 08, 2015 A RECOUNT is taking place for the Stoke-on-Trent South seat – because of a ballot papers blunder by the city council. Ukip’s Tariq Mahmood today branded the count an ‘absolute shambles’ after misplaced ballot boxes were found downstairs at the Kings Hall when the counting of the votes upstairs was nearly complete. And more votes – sent via post – were discovered when the ballot boxes were being verified. http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/General-Election-2015-Vote-recounts-ordered-Stoke/story-26463974-detail/story.html
The best one is this in marginal Aberdeen: (I left the computer I used to work out how many anti-SNP postal votes to create. Opps!)
General Election 2015: TABLET COMPUTER found in ballot box at Aberdeen count 8 May 2015 by Andrew Clark With ballot boxes being emptied and votes being counted across the country, a rather odd discovery has been made in a ballot box at the Aberdeen City count. While sifting through the paper votes one vote counter found a computer tablet hidden in the ballot box. http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/572911/general-election-2015-tablet-computer-found/
But surely, it was the ‘Shy Tories’ etc. So, what of the investigations into voters, what are they saying? This is what UK Polling says investigations have not revealed either Shy Tories or Late Swing voters:
Firstly, late swing – the BES data finds virtually no net change at all between how people said they would vote pre-election and how they reported having voted after the election. The BES team conclude from this that late swing is unlikely. We’ve now got published re-contact data from the British Election Study, ICM, Opinium, Populus and Survation, only Survation found any obvious evidence of late swing in their re-contact survey. Secondly, Shy Tories. This is essentially the most difficult potential cause to evidence – if people lie before the election, and lie after the election and we can’t check their actual ballot papers, how do you detect it? You need to look for circumstantial evidence. The BES team have compared levels of Tory support in their polling in different types of area, on the assumption that if people feeling embarrassed to admit voting Tory really was a problem it would be less of an issue in heavily Tory areas than in areas where no one else voted Tory. They did not find this pattern. http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9460
The British Election Study states:
…The first is the ‘SNP threat’. As discussed above, we currently find little robust evidence that attitudes towards the SNP and expectations about a hung parliament resulted in gains for the Conservatives from Ukip or in vote losses for Labour from former Lib Dems. The second red herring is Labour’s left/right position that is, the question of whether Labour was either overly or insufficiently left-wing. Generally, our data shows that people were more likely to vote Labour in 2015 when they thought the party was more left-wing, and less likely to vote Labour when they thought it was centrist. This suggests there is very little to the argument that Labour was too left-wing to attract voters. At the same time there is not much to support the argument that Labour was not left-wing enough. There was very little difference in the likelihood of voting Labour between someone who thought Labour sat at the left-most end of the scale (0) and someone who saw it as just left of centre (4) it is only when people saw Labour as sitting to the right of this point that support really drops off.. http://bit.ly/1F84rRn
Shy Tories, Late Swing Voters, Anti-SNP voters, anti-Left Labour voters are a cover story to explain to the public the result of something else – vote fraud. I would also put into that category the BBC Exit Poll. This poll was the first to get people to think the election result would be very different to what they had imagined. And there results were very different to what is usually found. A national swing vote disappeared and was replaced with a regional swing vote. So, the North went Labour, we were told, and the South went Tory. Yet, even the exit poll was wrong. It failed to predict a Conservative majority. How did they pick swing voters if there were none? How did they take into account postal voters? There is something not right here. So, what is the evidence around postal votes? Research found that postal voters lied about their votes to the detriment of Labour. The UK Polling Report, when exploring whether people mislead the polls on their voting intentions, found evidence of postal vote fraud. there was low turnout did lie about their voting intentions:
‘…a small proportion of people said they had already voted by post before most of the ballot papers had even been sent out, in areas where there were not any local elections this May there was still a chunk of people who reported having voted in their local elections. At the moment, these people who look as if they might be lying disproportionately break to Labour, so would explain some of the error’. http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9460
So, there you have it! The accurate exit poll could not have been accurate. No Shy Tories. No late swing. No anti-SNP vote. No anti-Left-wing Labour vote. But there was voter fraud.