West Midlands Labour Councillor Bob Piper can contain his glee at the arrest of a LibDem Councillor's wife in Birmingham on electoral fraud charges. The truth is that all parties have people who will stretch the law, so we shouldn't be too sanctimonious about it. Birmingham Conservative Council leader Mike Whitby (pictured) probably sums it up best.
“The Conservative Party in Birmingham has been at the forefront of rooting out fraud and corruption that has blighted our local elections for years. We highlighted the need to look at the Northern Ireland system which can offer the necessary
safeguards to ensure our local elections are free, fair and clear of any illegal or corrupt practices. For two years we identified the frailty and the weaknesses of our postal vote system and how it had been appallingly abused by those wishing to cheat the people of our city. Even the Labour Leader on Birmingham City Council admitted that the changes to the postal vote system, that his government introduced, ‘looks and feels wrong”. We argued that our postal vote system is open to abuse, and presents an invitation to cheat. It would seem that despite our best efforts, there are still those who wish to tarnish our democratic reputation yet further. It is vital that the police and the public remain vigilant to ensure that the results on the 4th May reflect the will of the people. The Conservative Party have already set a strong example by formally complaining to West Midlands Police about a suspiciously high number of postal vote applications. I have also met with the Chief Executive and senior Conservative Party officials to discuss the implementation of a pilot scheme to combat this very problem and I look forward to setting the foundations for stronger democracy in Birmingham that will not only help prevent those who wish to cheat the chance to do so, but will repair our battered reputation.”
It seems that there are still huge problems about conducting elections in our second City. Labour's PPERA Act has a lot to answer for. We just didn't have this sort of problem before - well, certainly not on the scale of what's happened in Birmingham. The law on postal votes clearly needs to be completely re-written.