Saturday, April 11, 2015

Treating Jack Straw differently

From BBC News:
A UKIP parliamentary candidate is to be questioned over allegations he tried to influence voters by giving away sausage rolls at a party event featuring snooker star Jimmy White. 
Kim Rose, standing in Southampton Itchen, said he had been told to report to police over allegations of treating. 
Electoral Commission rules state food and entertainment cannot be provided by candidates to "corruptly influence" votes.
Craig Murray (whose headline I have nicked) reckons that such matters are handled differently when a cabinet minister is involved. Writing yesterday, he quoted a blog post of his from the 2005 general election:
On 24 April 2005, in an election rally in Jack Straw’s Blackburn Constituency, over one hundred Blackburn electors were given a full free meal by the Labour party, with Jack Straw present, having just made an election speech to the lucky partakers of this generosity. ... 
There was no shortage of witnesses – protestors were ringing the hall. The police were actually providing protection for this criminal event, and showed no interest in the fact that the proceeding was illegal. Jack Straw runs Blackburn as a personal fiefdom. 
I therefore went to a police station and made a formal complaint. This obliged the police to investigate, and to do them justice, the detectives of Lancashire Police did a very good job, establishing the facts of the incident. They then sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service. 
The Crown Prosecution Service returned the file to Lancashire Police, saying that the offence was “Trivial” and there would be no prosecution. As this was one of the worst examples of large scale electoral treating since it was made a criminal offence in 1832, presumably this means the CPS has decided that the law on treating has fallen into desuetude, and candidates may now provide food and drink to electors. 
Or only New Labour ministers?
It seems Craig was right.

1 comment: said...

Election irregularities reported to the electoral Commissioner in 2011. I was told a 'note' had been appended to the returning officer's file; a note which was lost less than two years later when needed in the malicious prosecution of a local blogger. And guess what? She's still the returning officer this year!

Isn't it great how bumpy the playing field has become.