Sunday Times – Focus: Could the election be won by fraud? (by Robert Winnett and Abul Taher): This week Craig Murray, a former diplomat hoping to become the local MP, will be writing to the Electoral Commission to raise his fears of vote-rigging in the constituency. The soaring numbers of people voting by post, he said, are leaving the election wide open to fraud. “I’ve been approached by several people in the Asian community who are under huge pressure from Labour activists to apply for a postal vote rather than a ballot vote and then hand their postal vote over to the Labour party. That is happening now in Blackburn on a wide scale. In my career as a diplomat I’ve been used to precisely this situation abroad but wasn’t expecting to face it in the UK.” In Blackburn the contest is particularly tense. The sitting MP is Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and the local Muslim community is threatening to vote him out in protest over the Iraq war. In its efforts to hang on to every vote it can, Labour is urging people to register for postal votes; already 50% more people than in 2001 will be using the system in Blackburn this time. Many of them, claimed Murray, are facing pressure or even threats of “repercussions” intended to influence who they support.
For the record, I think I should state that we don’t think these repercussions include being boiled alive.