Jack Straw Treating Again

by craig on April 26, 2010 11:19 am in The Election

I am in Blackburn on the trail of Jack Straw. Yesterday I spoke to several hundred local Muslims at a Blackburn fundraiser for CagePrisoners. I told them very directly that it was no good their salving their consciences by donating, if they then again gave their votes to the man who gave the green light to British cooperation with the extraordinary rendition policy, and who overruled the Foreign Office legal advisers to launch an illegal war in Iraq.

While I was doing that, Jack Straw was committing a lesser but still very important crime. He was “Treating”. Yesterday Straw fed 700 constituents with curry, nan, dessert, tea and coffee at Jan’s Conference Centre at an election rally in Blackburn .

Every political candidate and agent knows that this is illegal. It is a specific criminal offence known as “Treating”. It carries a jail sentence and disqualification for the candidate.

Precisely the same thing happened, at precisely the same venue, at the last general election. I swore out a complaint to the police,but no action was taken.


The extraordinary thing was that, not only was the criminal offence carried out in an open and blatant manner, but this criminal offence was actually aided and abetted by the police. Jack Straw arrived not only with his close protection officers but with escorting police officers who actually guarded the criminal act.

From the Electoral Commission’s Guidance:


A person is guilty of the corrupt practice of treating if they corruptly, directly or

indirectly, either before, during or after an election, give or provide (or pay wholly or

in part the expense of giving or providing) any food, drink, entertainment or provision

in order to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting.


I genuinely despair of the deep-seated corruption of this country where a Cabinet minister is enabled repeatedly to break the law in this way.

It is worth noting that an independent candidate, Bushra Irfan, was reported to the police by the returning officer for an internet page that suggested that food would be given at a meeting. Irfan’s campaign apologised and removed the offending page; no food was given. However Jack Straw was able to actually give out seven hundred meals under the noses of the police, with not a word said by the Returning Officer, who by law should now disqualify him. A criminal trial should follow.

I have wriiten widely about the amazing corruption of the electoral process in Blackburn and its corrupt administration by Blackburn Council. I had hoped that this scrutiny might be sufficient to force them to behave more honestly. But theyareso arrogant and bressnecked in their power here, they really don’t give a damn about the law,


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  1. From the wording of the guidance it would appear that the matter isn’t quite as straightforward as you suggest. Treating becomes an offence only if it is “in order to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting”.

    OK, it’s difficult to imagine what other purpose it could have but at least there is an arguable point. However, any mitigation raised by the Straw camp could equally be put forward by Bushra Irfan, who might have been wise to continue with her hospitality as advertised and use any legal proceedings to highlight Straw’s far more brazen flouting of the rules.

  2. MJ

    You have to look at the context of why the law was made and at the case law. Giving out free food at an election campaign meeting is always taken as treating. It is plain as a pikestaff that this is precisely the behaviour which the law was introduced to outlaw.

    The truth of the matter is that if Jack Straw does it nothing happens, but if another candidate did it they would certainly be arrested and probably jailed.

  3. Surely the only way this might _not_ be in order to corruptly influence any voter, would be if this were such an everyday event, that nobody would consider it a favour marking any particular occasion. Does this sort of thing happen routinely, or is this favour conferred only immediately before every general election?

  4. Does Jan’s Conference Centre routinely provide free food to hundreds of people? Err, no.

  5. Why not test this by giving out packets of crisps or Mars bars at a Put an Honest Man into Parliament rally in Dismore’s constituency, let the Press know, and insist on trial by jury if the police decide to arrest or prosecute?

  6. I’m surprised the other candidates in Blackburn don’t make a case with the police, returning officer, and Electoral Commission just to start with. Surely these other candidates have more standing on this concern than anyone else.

    Do we know for sure who paid for it all? 700 meals would put a dent in anyone’s wallet, even for one who had become enriched while acting as a “New” Labour minister. Straw personally?

  7. According to the Electoral Commission, there were only four cases of any sort of corrupt influence in the 2009 and 2008 elections, and that is a wider category than treating.


    Also, the same EC document says that treating must be done not merely “to influence voters to vote or to refrain from voting” but also “with corrupt intent”.

    So it sounds like it’s quite a hard offence to prove – but obviously an easy one to allege.

  8. It may be worthwhile scrutinising the election expenses of Mr Straw.

  9. John D. Monkey

    26 Apr, 2010 - 1:57 pm


    Best of luck in trying to get the mainstream media to report this.

    I’m not a betting man but I’d risk a small wager that none of the press will even mention it…and anyone who links to it on any BBC or Guardian blog will be moderated out.

  10. This is rather timely for Mr Straw


    “Pilot Lotfi Raissi wins up to £2m compensation for 9/11 accusation

    An Algerian-born pilot is likely to receive compensation of up to £2 million after having been wrongly accused of training the 9/11 terrorists.

    Lotfi Raissi was told yesterday by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, that he was eligible for a payout.

    Mr Raissi has been fighting for compensation for six years after his arrest ten days after the terror attacks in September 2001.”

  11. Quite O/T but the Guardian reports today that the Lib Dems are reaching out to the Tories in an early attempt at coalition building. This is a good way for the LDs to piss off any of their reluctant progressive voters, and wonder if there is anything that party members (or potential LD voters) can say en masse to discourage Clegg from this path. Craig, what do you make of this?

    The LD position on Afghanistan is bad enough, and I think they’re leaning to the right with the political wind generally. They’re not progressive enough on Trident and they’re sometimes using regressive language on matters of economy and immigration (sensible amnesty notwithstanding). Bending to Tory policy surely makes matters worse, doesn’t it?

  12. I have asked the Electoral Commission how I can complain about “treating”. If anyone suggests that I have no reason to complain since my vote is not in the Blackburn and Darwen constituency, my reply would be that electoral corruption benefits political parties, not just individual candidates. My vote in Lewisham West and Penge aims to reduce the chances of having to suffer another corruptible Labour government; I have a direct interest in Labour candidates in any constituency not being able to use corrupt practices to get elected.

    Examples of the dishonourable tradition of treating can be found in the 1956 anthology edited by Herbert George Nicholas “To the hustings – election scenes from English fiction”.

  13. Jon @ 2.10pm – is this the kind of thing you meant –


  14. They (opposition) hold all the cards. Yes it is terrible, but i learnt long ago that the police are a political force and are there to protect the rich and powerful, hence why none have been decently charged. Police taking action surely ye JEST.

  15. Have you ever written to the letters pages of The Times about this?

  16. Hi Mike, the link to the front page story is here:


    Thanks for your link – doesn’t sound like Cameron feels the same about the idea!

  17. I’m sure if someone like George Galloway did this the press would be all over it.

  18. its funny that you should post this today.

    I was using your very example from the last election of Jack Straws “treating” to explain to a colleague from India what safeguards there are meant to be in order to stop this bribing of the public to vote for themselves. I tehn had to explain about how the resturnign officer though is from the party that is in power and in rotten bourghs like blackburn any complaints are ignored. he wasn’t suprised unfortunatley after living in this country for 4 years.

  19. My ruthlessly boring mind suggests a strategy. Ask the LD candidate to propose a similar free lunch and then report him to the Returning Officer. Surely it must be win-win – either you get a ruling that it’s not allowed, or you buy a lot of Muslim votes with a few baskets of pakora.

  20. John Bishop,

    Would you like to posit an alternative motive for giving free meals at an election rally?

  21. An excellent commentary on the ‘election’ campaign from John Hilley, a Scot who contributes to Medialens.


    Don’t mention the wars…..

    Election Glasgow South: Tom Harris and other party warmongers

    Don’t mention the wars. Yes, I know, it’s another (pluralised) use of a tired cliche. But it seems the most apt way of referencing the dark issue being drowned out by the current election noise on Cam-Brown-Cleggability.

  22. Could other candidates carry out a civil action in the courts, after all some genuine and non-corrupt candidate is being deprived of 5 years of a nice salary, ridiculously good pension and still juicy exes.

  23. Craig: a strict reading of the rather bizarrely-worded rule suggests that, provided you do not “corruptly” attempt to persuade the recipients of your largesse either to vote or not vote, then you’re in the clear.

    There’s nothing to say you can’t merely extol the virtues of your own party or rubbish the others.

  24. MJ: Surely providing meals and sundry largess IS a corrupt attempt to persuade the intentions of voters?

    There’s nothing wrong with someone attempting to “extol the virtues of your own party or rubbish the others”, granted, but you don’t get to do that while shoving £10 notes into their pockets. Or giving them meals for that matter.

    It’s tough to come up with an interpretation of the rule which doesn’t mean exactly that.

  25. Hmm, back on topic, what are Straw’s major opponents doing about this?

    And what sort of person would change their vote if you bought them a curry?

  26. Doug Allanson

    26 Apr, 2010 - 6:12 pm

    I think we’re all missing the point here. Ole Jack is only sticking true to his credentials. He has always been a careerist who would set fire to his own tail to get elected. I always thought he was in favour of the Iraq war until I read Andrew Rawnsley who says he knew it was a dogs dinner and only orchestrated it for five years because otherwise he would get the sack.

    Ole Jack is just following in the footsteps of the Duke of Newcastle who used to do this ‘Treating’ stuff for about thirty years in the eighteenth century, and got in government after government.

    Its a tradition

  27. ‘Trick or treat?’ Or both, perhaps…

    Kissing babies, hugging OAPs, dishing-out ladles of liquid at sundry soup-kitchens. Sending armies off to murder and maim. What’s new?

    Jon, it depends on the curry (!)

  28. Here is the “Pocket Guide for Police Officers” that tells them how to handle allegations of ‘Treating’


  29. If it’s mass-produced curry from a certain supermarket, that’s not treating, it’s attempted poisoning. Mind you it could count as an over-enthusiastic treatment for constipation, depending on the events of the next two hours.

  30. “Surely providing meals and sundry largess IS a corrupt attempt to persuade the intentions of voters?”

    As worded the offence is not in persuading voters how to vote, it is in persuading them whether to vote or not.

  31. Was the food HMC certified Hallal?

    If not we should all tell the people of Blackburn that Jack straw had feed them Harram food labelled as Hallal.

    And if tries to defend himself against this accusation, he will only bring attention to his illegal activities.

  32. Who was the caterer?

    Is it possible to find out?

    It is a good idea if we do, may be the Hallal option consisted of pork, just like the pork chops in the Hallal meals for so called terror suspects at Belmarsh?

  33. It was mules’ testicles, rolled in absinthe.

  34. A Mr and Mrs Virmani are the owners. They recently applied for planning permission to install a marquee.

    When I googled Jan’s Conference Centre

    Craig’s piece appears at No 14 and 15.

    T. Bliar’s lot have also appeared at the facility.


  35. Why am I not surprised, Craig:


  36. Hence the ‘stubborn’ attitude of Straw eh? Suhayl 😉

  37. Suhayl Saadi

    It was pigs testicles warped in Bacon,

    I know mules are harram too, but pigs seem more harram for some reason.

    And I’m not sure if there are many people in Blackburn who know what absinthe is, or the fact that it is Alcoholic.

  38. What policeman would take a stand on this?

    The Jersey, CI, police chief, Graham Power, was dismissed by a corrupt Jersey administration in a bid to discredit a long overdue investigation into child abuse on the island.

    This happened on Jack Straw’s watch and he absolutely refuses to do anything about it.

    Straw is officially responsible, on her Majesty’s behalf, for the good governance of the crown dependencies.

    Nuff said.

  39. But what ever he feed them to gain their votes, it is always a good idea for us to tell them it was Harram.

  40. Another day comes to an end in Blackburn, Jack is feeding the masses whilst we huff and we puff and then, finally, we blow his house down.

    The Essex boy will soon have time to conbtemplate his mal advice.

  41. Richard Robinson

    26 Apr, 2010 - 8:57 pm

    “always a good idea for us to tell them it was Harram.”

    Hey, no. Not if he could prove it was ok, it’d just be a “Poor Straw, victimised by lying opponents” backfire.

    “And I’m not sure if there are many people in Blackburn who know what absinthe is, or the fact that it is Alcoholic”.

    Try Benedictine.

  42. That would make it “Poor Straw, victimised by lying opponents” for feeding people to get their votes!

  43. “Try Benedictine”

    That’s Burnley.

  44. Gary McKinnon, a suicidal young UK citizen with autism is facing extradition to the United States on charges of accessing US computer systems or ‘cyber-hacking.

    Janis Sharp, McKinnon’s mother, is standing as an Independent candidate in the 2010 General Election in Blackburn in protest against the sitting Labour MP Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary when a revised extradition treaty was agreed that seriously undermined the legal rights of British citizens accused by America law-makers.

  45. Richard Robinson

    26 Apr, 2010 - 10:04 pm

    MJ – Yes, so it is. Curses, foiled again.

  46. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne claimed the American government would not “hang one of their citizens out to dry in the same way”.

    “The [UK] government must ensure that the US-UK Extradition Treaty is repealed and that its replacement treats US and British citizens equally,” he said

    (Thanx Lucy – bless you)

  47. Much as I dislike Straw, there is a problem. The offence of “treating” contains the word “corruptly”. Just what does it mean? It is so easy to argue that the “meal” was an incidental to a meeting at which a candidate merely stated his views but left it to individual voters to decide what to do.

    I find it extremely difficult to believe that any Muslim would ever vote for a political party which has engaged several times in warfare against Muslim countries. It takes some explaining. Even Condoleeza Rice realised just how dependent Straw was on Muslim votes when Washington “ordered” his removal from the Foreign Office.

  48. Mark Golding: “US-UK Extradition Treaty”? Shome mishtake shurely… that ought to be the “UK _to_ US Extradition Treaty”.

  49. ObiterJ

    80% of Jack Straw’s votes are Muslim votes.

    I am finding my commenters even more obtuse than usual and it is pissing me off. I put it down to a deplorable ignorance of British history and Eatanswill (lookit up, ignorami).

    Where on earth did you lot go to school? Were none of you taught about the GreatReform Act of 1832, its provisions and the reasons for them. I learnt this atO level, not even A level.

    All political views are welcome here, but if you are simply ignorant, then shut up.

    (Bangs desk in bewildered exasperation at the modern world and goes out to have a pint).

  50. The reason why Muslims are ignored by all political parties, is Muslims are seen as people who will always vote Labour.

    Labour feel they will gain nothing by trying to get the Muslim Vote because they have already got it. They are not afraid of losing it because they feel they will never loss it.

    The other parties will not try to get it, because they feel it is impossible to get it because it belongs to Labour.

  51. @ craig – re your post 10.42 – Why the insulting reply?

    I know full well that most of Straw’s vote is Muslim. My simple question is WHY. I just do not see why they would support a man who, as you have said “gave the green light to British cooperation with the extraordinary rendition policy, and who overruled the Foreign Office legal advisers to launch an illegal war in Iraq.”

    Anyway, I won’t be holding my breath for a sensible answer. I thought that with your supposed local knowledge of Blackburn you might just be able to explain it. How wrong can you be.

  52. The question is what those 700 meals were really intended to achieve, since 700 is only a small percentage of the constituency. They were intended, in my view, to be a morale booster for Nulab activists. They couldn’t be intended to influence all voters, since 99% of voters wouldn’t have been invited to the event. That being the case, it couldn’t influence anyone towards Nulab (since it was only given to Nulab supporters), and so wouldn’t seem to be treating in that case.

  53. What’s the Great Reform Act (1832) got to do with it? It’s The Electoral Commission’s ‘Guidance for candidates and agents’ (2010) and its interpretation that’s at issue here.

  54. “All political views are welcome here, but if you are simply ignorant, then shut up”

    I think that’s what it says in the Lib Dems’s Welcome Pack, sent to all new mwmbers.

  55. I remember a few years ago, it was for a by-election as I recall, that Michael Crick of Newsnight did a piece about the over spending by political parties on the election budget which is supposed to be tightly controlled. No further action was taken.

    It seems the rules are in place but can be broken only by a select few. The rules catch the ones who are not in the club. We all know the system is corrupt, Treating is just another example.

    It is to be hoped that the Muslims in Straw’s “thief-dom” come to their senses and vote more sensibly. The same could be said for the white working class but they will continue to vote for Christmas. I would guess the election is pretty tightly stitched up so no one hold their breath on that score. However surprises have occured, Chris Patten and Michael Portillo both lost their “safe” seats. Maybe there is a God afterall…

  56. Up to his usual treating tricks, we see.

    Tell us, Craig (or Ingo), do you have any info on whether Jack is harvesting blank postal voting ballot papers as usual this time as well?

  57. “So, there we have British elections today: an unfair electoral system, censorship of candidates’ electoral addresses, little real political choice for voters, widespread postal ballot-rigging and elections administered by partisan council officials in a corrupt political climate.”

    Nothing could be clearer and warrants a frustrated banging on the desk.

    (also feeling guilty for going off on a tangent – but, I have have a great deal of sympathy for Gary’s mum because my son Kieron was diagnosed with ADD after a disastrous first and middle schooling).

  58. MJ

    No, the electoral commission guidance only explains the law. The actual law is the Representation of the People Act. That makes treating a criminal offence with a possible jail sentence.

  59. Craig, is there a web address for the campaign of “the Asian Barbara Castle”?

  60. yep, there is, its http://www.bushrairfan.co.uk. A failry simple site, nothing too fancy.

    Nice to hear from you strategist, come on in, the water is hot.

  61. Abe Rene

    I genuinely cannot understand the motivation of you and MJ in resorting to increasingly convoluted causistry to justify Jack Straw’s illegal act.

    No, they most certainly were not all NuLab activists. And I am pretty sure you will find that whoever wins Blackburn this time will not have a majority of much more than 700 and probably less.

  62. Yes Craig, whose side are they on? I studied C19 British History at ‘O’ Level and know about the Great Reform Act and the abolition of rotten boroughs. We seem to have returned to a pre 1832 state of affairs in Blackburn and probably many others.


    I see Mohammad Sarwar was there. Is he greasing Straw’s wheels too like Lord Taylor of Blackburn?

    ‘Sarwar has estimated assets of £16 million, mainly from the family wholesale cash and carry business, United Wholesale Grocers.[10].

    In 2007 his son, Athif Sarwar, was convicted of an £850,000 missing trader fraud in a company, United Wholesale (Scotland) Limited, of which he was Managing Director.[11][12] Mohammad Sarwar was a remunerated director of the company,[13][14] but not involved in the fraud.’ (Wikipedia)

  63. Thats what you need sons for mary, to stand up and be counted for daddy. Mohammed sarwar is dodgy and he can’t change his company, its obvious that there is an apparent deep bond between jack Straw and M.Sarwar, not just a working relationship.

  64. Craig, you know as well as I do that law and order in this country is corrupt:


  65. Arsalan, after I’d penned the suggestion regarding the gonadic composition of the nosh served by Mr Straw, I feared that you would provide us all with an elegant and piquant recipe…

    Now, if it were Glasgow, it would be steeped overnight in that exclusive liqueur cultivated lovingly, by hand, by the monks of a certain abbey.

    Indeed, I had conjured-up an image of ‘hand-rolled testicle soaked for a long, Saxon summer in buckram-lined barrels of Buckfast’… this is a phrase which even the intrepid Leonard Sachs would have baulked at enunciating, though the great Ivor Cutler (or indeed, his soul-brother, I mean ‘ole ‘rothel, hobbly, hobbly, ho’ Stanley Unwin) would have iterated with enormous and rollicking aplomb.

    The vernacular, Buckfast-driven, early C21st equivalent of this long, winding, Iambic utterance would be to say, simply,

    “Jack Straw is a wanker.”

  66. I’m with you on this Craig. It’s obviously a corrupt practice. It’s just that the wording of the guidance is so peculiar that any lawyer could drive a horse and coaches through it.

  67. Craig

    The invitation was on a specially printed card for ‘Muslim friends of Labour’. Hence my belief that only Nulab active supporters were invited. I understand that a substantial proportion of Blackburn voters support Jack Straw because he has done their community favours, so it doesn’t surprise me that there should be 700 active supporters there.

  68. “Muslim friends of Labour” sounds like an oxymoron – unless of course, they have been corruptly bribed, or “treated”. I wonder if the invitation stated also that there would be free grub. If so, that would be good prima facie evidence, no?

  69. MJ has got a point scousebilly, its a long piece of rubber to stretch as you like it, prima facie evidence does not come into it.

  70. From Mary ‘In 2007 his son, Athif Sarwar, was convicted of an £850,000 missing trader fraud in a company, United Wholesale (Scotland) Limited, of which he was Managing Director.[11][12] Mohammad Sarwar was a remunerated director of the company,[13][14] but not involved in the fraud.’ (Wikipedia)’

    Even though convicted in 2007 and jailed for three years the son was released from prison pending appeal. Since then I haven’t seen any information as to whether he won the appeal or not or even if the appeal actually took place.

    Interestingly there’s evidence that these carousel frauds are set up by government agents with billions of taxpayers’ money being channelled abroad and unsurprisingly never being recovered by HMCE/HMCR

  71. Funny how great minds think alike.

    @ Tom Welsh – ” But how can you prove it objectively? Only by finding people who were treated and who will testify that, in return for the food and drink, Mr Straw personally asked them to vote or not vote in a particular way.”

    Answer: Straw certainly did not invite 700 of the constituents to dinner just to have some Indian nosh. So, I guess if you play his after dinner speech, he must have somewhere in it said ” vote for me” – so there – now you have his intention.

  72. lol, Biryani and Samosas for votes :)

  73. So how can we complain, who to complain etc about this man Straw?

  74. Tony Greaves

    30 Apr, 2010 - 1:50 pm

    All it needs is for anyone (doesn’t have to be a candidate or even live in Blackburn) to make a formal complaint to the police that election law has been broken. They will then have to investigate.

    Tony Greaves

  75. Matthew Forkins

    2 May, 2010 - 4:08 pm

    I hope you have raised this matter with the police and the elections unit Craig. I am sure they will be able to decide whether it is treating or not.

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