"...To no one will we deny or delay, right or justice." Magna Carta (1215)
We would all like to think that the UK democratic process is sacrosanct, but after ten years in politics I'm coming to understand that the cards can seriously be stacked against you and not just for the most obvious of reasons. Class, culture and race may periodically play a part, but money, manipulation and the machinations of 'Party' politics can be the biggest obstacles to progress.
I'm a teacher, youth worker and journalist and I stood in this year's London Assembly Elections for the Labour Party in the West Central constituency. It was a great campaign and for the second time running I massively reduced the Tory vote making an unwinnable seat winnable as I did in Havering & Redbridge in 2012, reducing the Tory majority from 40,000 to just 4,000. You can read more about me here.
With a vote winning track record the stage was set for a potentially huge surge of support in Westminster, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, but ultimately the vote came up 14,000 votes short of the mark that would have won me the seat. What appears to have happened is that there was an 80% shortfall in increased voter turnout in West Central, reasonable enough when considered in isolation but the London-wide results tell an entirely different story.
In real terms the average rise in turnout across the 14 constituencies in London in 2016 as compared with 2012 amounted to 25,648 votes. In West Central turnout increased by just 3,902 votes. 80% lower. The stats below tell it more starkly:
Table 1: Sample London Assembly turnout figures 2000 - 2016
Constituency 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016 12/16 Increase
Merton & Wandswoth 114330 120088 167437 153785 187455 33670
Greenwich & Lewisham 94697 108771 149238 133659 164897 31238
North East 117586 128665 197893 195321 231531 36210
Havering & Redbridge 108975 129347 167922 143759 172806 29047
West Central 106600 116101 166379 149419 153321 3902
So, seemingly somewhere in the polling process over 20,000 votes went missing in West Central! The election was lost by 14,564 votes, the turnout results appear artificially low when compared with results across all the other constituencies in the London Assembly Region. So I decided to Put Democracy on Trial believing in fact that the system has been cheated!
At the Pre-Trial hearing on July 26 2016 the Court agreed there is a case to answer, and having secured funding for the first stages of the process I'm taking the case forward independently. Clearly the outcome is a matter of public interest, particularly for voters in Kensingtion, Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, but there are wider ramifications. If there has been vote tampering or errors in adjudication we need to root it out. Here are examples of just five ways in which the system could have been cheated:
- Altered Ballot Papers
- Stolen votes – electors put on Postal Vote list and denied vote at the polling station
- Registering false voters
- Electronic Vote Count Error
With the trial date set for Thursday 8 December 2016. We're now less than two weeks away! I'm asking for your support with costs. There is no public funding for legal fees in these cases, the financial burden of bringing the case is all on me. Simply securing copies of the marked registers of voters for instance is costing me nearly £1000!
If like me you too would like to ensure that progressive candidates are getting a real shot at representation in the UK do please pledge your support. Every donation will help, no matter how small. Anonymous donations welcome too. Knowing you back the principle of maintaining an open, fair and transparent electoral process in Britain sends a critical message of solidarity to the establishment. Hope to hear from you.
PS: Feel free to contact me via social media or email for more info & updates.