Fraud “endemic” in Labour’s rotten borough

The Scotsman – The mandarin who is out to ‘sack Jack’: Corruption. The word is everywhere in Blackburn politics: like many small towns where one party dominates, it’s a handy jibe for opponents to make. But here, there may be a little more substance to the slur. Earlier this year, Mohammed Hussain, a Labour councillor, was jailed for three years after a court found that at least 200 of the votes for him in the Bastwell ward were fraudulent. What gives Hussain’s case such deadly resonance is that the 200 votes were postal ballots. In the general election next month, at least 16,000 people will vote by post, up from around 4,000 in 2001. In a total electorate of 73,000, that has set nerves jangling. “We’re scared to death of vote-rigging, and postal votes are the biggest worry,” says Tony Melia, a local businessman fighting the seat for the Liberal Democrats. In Blackburn’s Asian community, rumours of fraud abound, tales of local shopkeepers collecting blank postal ballots and handing them to Labour members; family patriarchs and mosque elders simply confiscating voting forms and filling them in en masse for Labour… Lancashire Police haven’t ruled out sending officers to accompany postmen delivering ballot papers. Phil Watson, the town’s returning officer, said earlier this week: “I can’t guarantee it will be fraud-free.”