Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lord Bonkers' Diary: By-election fixing

Far away in Liverpool, the latest issue of Liberator is on sale from the magazine's stand at the Liberal Democrat Conference. So it is time to spend another week at Bonkers Hall.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10.

By-election fixing

Like all cricket lovers, I was shocked to learn of the allegations about match fixing. They reminded me of that sad period during the 1950s when Eastern betting syndicates turned their attentions to British council by-elections. All over the country, candidates stood with the sole intention of losing – and some pretty fruity leaflets were issued as a result.

Things came to a head in a contest at Weston-Super-Mare, where the candidates of all three major parties were clearly doing their best to be defeated. In the event, they were trumped by an Independent Ratepayer, who was given 14 days without the option at the subsequent court case, but at least the authorities were finally compelled to act.

In those days, of course, local by-elections still fell under the aegis of the Marylebone Cricket Club, and at first-rate job they made of it. If they succeed in sorting out this Pakistani no-ball business, then I would be in favour of scrapping the Electoral Commission and putting them back in charge.

After all, whom would you rather see entrusted with our democratic system: some faceless bureaucrat or Derek Underwood?

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