Obviously that is a remarkably good result for UKIP. It strongly suggests that across the North of England (and points north) UKIP are the opposition and the Tories the "splitters". Their entire propaganda against UKIP has been, not that there is anything they can criticise in our policies, but that we are slotting the anti-Labour vote. Presumably,
This is how Electoral Calculus had previously said this seat should go at a general election
Actually that would not have made it a marginal for the Tories but at 7,500 difference, it is not a no-hoper either. At the beginning of the campaign Tories were ahead of UKIP
The by election turnout was poor but then it normally is at by elections, particularly when the result is expected not to be close.
It also looks like a good result for Labour (they got 58% when the equivalent in 2010 was 44%) but there are 2 major reasons, one ethically dubious and the other worse, why this is not so.
The ethically dubious one is that, as with almost all other by elections recently, they went for the shortest possible campaign (presumably also an influence for a low turnout). That means the voters don't get a true political debate, which is particularly damaging for UKIP since we are censored from the "legally balanced" BBC
The worse one is that 40%, yes 40% of votes cast were by postal ballots (9,200). Even when they are carried out honestly postal ballots favour established political machines, who have the likes of our Fascist friend O'Hare from yesterday's post to set them up. At the best it also means that these votes were cast 3 days into the campaign.
But most seriously, the words of the judge in the Birmingham Vote Fraud trial cannot be ignored particularly in present circumstances. He said that the evidence was "overwhelming", that " There are no systems to deal realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated", that "Frauds of this magnitude require a considerable degree of organisation and manpower, not to mention supervision and co-ordination. It would be unthinkable for them to be the work of a few hothead activists", & of Prescott's reforms which made fraud possible on this scale that this was "positive assistance to fraud "...... "Short of writing 'Steal Me' on the envelopes, it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands".
Richard Mawrey QC, sitting as an electoral commissioner in Birmingham, found evidence of fraud in last year's city council elections that would "disgrace a banana republic". The elections, where several Labour candidates bucked the trend to win, were dogged by claims of intimidation, bribery, "vote-buying', impersonation and even the creation of a "vote-forging factory".
The Labour cabinet was subsequently widely described as having considered making the system more secure but decided against it because they would lose votes. The Tories and LibDems (as shown in Eastleigh) also have long established political machines and aren't all that much more interested in stopping fraud than Labour. Originally postal votes were only available to those who were provably incapacitated and there was no corruption problem.
Postal votes will not be nearly as important during general elections because the political machines are spread much thinner and also because there will be a longer and genuine campaign. We cannot know exactly how many of these votes went to which parties. If all of them had been Labour their ballot box vote would have been 4,000, putting them just behind UKIP but, attractive though that is, I don't think it can be so.
In a previous case where Labour got 49% of the votes they got over 70% of postal votes. With 58% in this case that implies they got about 80% of postal votes which would take their polling booth vote down to 5,800 (though UKIP may have had a few postal votes too).
Labour still won. But they cannot take much heart because had it been a general election, as it will soon, it would have been much closer. And had it been conducted as honestly as elections used to be, closer still.
* For those Beeboids who prefer picking up politically incorrect phrases by UKIP members to broadcasting any actual discussion of real political issues I would point out that the description of our electoral system as "would disgrace a banana republic" was not mine but the judge's.