Treating Jack Straw Differently 97

A UKIP candidate has been obliged to report to the police for breaking the law on “treating” for providing sausage rolls at an event. Yet Jack Straw at elections in 2005 and 2010 held rallies for the Muslim community in Blackburn at which the Labour Party provided hundreds of voters with full sit down meals, free of charge, and Police refused to take any action – indeed they were protecting the event. This is yet another example of the political elite being above the law.

This is what I posted on this blog seven years ago:

On 24 April 2005, in an election rally in Jack Straw’s Blackburn Constituency, over one hundred Blackburn electors were given a full free meal by the Labour party, with Jack Straw present, having just made an election speech to the lucky partakers of this generosity.

Every reader involved in electoral politics will know that this is a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act, formally known as “Treating” – the provision of free food and drink to electors in an attempt to influence their vote. Conviction leads to forfeiture of the election, banning from public office and a prison sentence of up to two years.

It is also an offence of strict liability – a candidate is liable even if it was organised by someone else on his behalf. A candidate is viewed in law as responsible for his campaign. But in this instance, Jack Straw was actually present.

There was no shortage of witnesses – protestors were ringing the hall. The police were actually providing protection for this criminal event, and showed no interest in the fact that the proceeding was illegal. Jack Straw runs Blackburn as a personal fiefdom.

I therefore went to a police station and made a formal complaint. This obliged the police to investigate, and to do them justice, the detectives of Lancashire Police did a very good job, establishing the facts of the incident. They then sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Crown Prosecution Service returned the file to Lancashire Police, saying that the offence was “Trivial” and there would be no prosecution. As this was one of the worst examples of large scale electoral treating since it was made a criminal offence in 1832, presumably this means the CPS has decided that the law on treating has fallen into desuetude, and candidates may now provide food and drink to electors.

Or only New Labour ministers?

I have no sympathy for UKIP. But if action is taken against UKIP where none was taken against Jack Straw for an absolutely blatant example, on a far greater scale, of the same offence, then that would be sickening, and yet a further example of the fact that the law is in no sense applied equally in the UK.

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97 thoughts on “Treating Jack Straw Differently

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  • Rose

    A further thought: just who do the CPS represent if as Craig suggests they have decided that a law has become redundant because it is rarely used?

    As I understand it the PACE Act of 1984 was introduced to provide a balance between the powers of the police and public rights and freedoms. Perhaps we need a new act to address current abuses of power. Acronym anybody?

  • John Spencer-Davis

    It was worth reading this article just to come unexpectedly across the beautiful word “desuetude”. The last time I saw it was in Paul Foot’s “Words As Weapons”, which, if you haven’t read it…do.

    Could not the UKIP candidate point to the non-prosecution of Jack Straw as a precedent?

    For that matter, couldn’t anyone, and provide champagne and smoked salmon with impunity?

    Kind regards,


  • John Goss

    Unless forced to do so I shall not be leaving this great blog which reaches a wide audience because of the well-argued posts and some of the quality of debate.

    Those who spoke out about Jack Straw and Tony Blair’s illegal war in Iraq were ignored but beforehand and afterwards we have had a tremendous effect, even though it seems like we achieved nothing. What is done cannot be undone. But future conflicts by NATO on the unsuspecting or suspecting can be avoided and the security of Europe can be enabled by listening to good politicians (there are a few) and opposing acts of insanity like that of Cameron sending (without parliamentary debate) troops and personnel to a country (Ukraine) which is a potential tinderbox to the start of World War Three.

    The Fascists (everybody should know by now I say it as it is) in Kiev are steadily trying to reclaim the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lughansk (who do not want to be part of this illegal government) despite a supposed ceasefire. Today President Poroshenko was greeted in Odessa with chants of ‘fascists shall not pass through’ although there were enough police to protect him and he did get through. Last week there was a big demonstration in Kiev outside the US embassy from a few thousand who know what is happening.

    As I so often get accused of using Russian sources (I actually use Russian sources because the west ignores the issues) and even tonight TASS is reporting a massive shelling of militsia positions I will try and appease those who cannot see the wool for the sheep by using a parliamentary speech from a great German orator (sorry you fascist supporters not Hitler) who is trying to bring Angela Merkel to some kind of sense.

  • HarryLaw

    Treating requires a ‘corrupting intent’, the supply of sausage rolls is far less corrupting than a sit down meal, even in these hard economic times, I could not bare the thought of listening to a UKIP candidate, even for a few minutes, no matter how hungry I was.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    10/04/2015 4:26 pm

    Ishmael, do please attribute – unless you wrote it.

    Kind regards,


  • Mary

    John In case Ishmael does not see your question, he was quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Mask of Anarchy. It’s the one that contains the famous line – ‘We are many, they are few…’.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    10/04/2015 10:09 pm

    Are you certain that the whole of the passage is quoted directly from Shelley? I am not sure that it is.

    Kind regards,


  • Ishmael

    I bite there words off, not as hard as the last. I hate going back on my word. Twice. Grrr.

    Your correct, we can’t meaningfully oppose them, the fascist regime that is the heart of our country. All major institutions are devoted to them.

    Does anyone believe it’s a coincidence we support dictators. Royals, Saudi etc. Fascists in Ukraine. I’v no option but to leave I think, or go underground. I can’t openly live, engage with politics, ‘society’ in a kingdom after being victim to the body politic this vicious ideology creates. All my life. And to expect the privileged who take on this persona to be nothing but condescending is perhaps a symptom of my own lack of self respect.

    I’ll mark this day, at the sausage role fire. No, It is the day to leave for me. Best to luck to all of you and some fond exchanges. No hard feelings.

    Until that day.

  • Mary

    So closely intertwined are No 10 and the BBC that the 10 o’clock newsreader has just said ‘It is understood that David Cameron will make an announcement tomorrow on future NHS funding’.

    Not news. PR more like.

    Cameron’s spin doctor Craig Oliver (from the BBC incidentally) is married to Joanna Gosling, one of the BBC News presenters.

    The state’s broadcaster indeed.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    10/04/2015 10:17 pm

    Why not stick around? The stuff you post is a good deal more coherent than some postings on here.

    Kind regards.


  • RobG

    @John Spencer-Davis
    10 Apr, 2015 – 9:53 pm

    With regard to the article you link to, about the Peasant’s Revolt, to be fair, church leaders have issued a public letter to the Prime Minister condeming modern British society (food banks, and all that). It was reported by the mainstream media, and was generally represented as a call to vote Labour, even though most people realise that things will be little different under Labour.

    I don’t have a link to hand at the moment, but this opinion piece in today’s Guardian gives a pretty good insight, I believe, into why we now live in Stepford Wives land:

    I would venture that the 2015 General Election is going to be the most historic since the one in 1945, and I don’t think they had sausage rolls back then.

  • Mary

    Most of us feel the same as you do Ishmael if that’s any consolation.

    Best wishes.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    10/04/2015 10:20 pm

    I understand, and it’s excellent of them. But nobody seems to listen to church leaders any more, do they? Justin Welby has been banging on about food banks for months. Is Iain Duncan Smith listening?

    BTW what on earth is an “impossibly wanky answer” in your article?

    Kind regards,


  • Ishmael

    Thanks John Mary etc.

    “The stuff you post is a good deal more coherent than some postings on here.”

    If so then thanks.

    Don’t worry i’ll be doing my own thing, still helping the Greens. Protest whatever.

    I’m sure know harm is meant but i’v been through other institutions with the same feeling. It is a top down blog, I’m happy that I did contribute. +I really need to get back into my painting. It’s a lot of energy and I think I need to spend elsewhere.

    Maybe we are just not ready yet. But it’s never going to be easy. Ie we will have to do it. Though perhaps could be bloodless.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    10/04/2015 10:34 pm

    You’re an artist? That’s great: I’m envious. Maybe that’s where you will shine most brightly.

    I visit a lot of homes for my work and sometimes someone will wave an arm at the wall painting and say “I did that” and my eyes just pop out.

    Kind regards,


  • RobG

    John, you’ll have to ask Marina Hyde, who wrote the article.

    I think many here will agree that the Guardian has gone totally down the pan and is now more beholden to the HSBC than it is to its readers.

    However, the Guardian is a ‘left wing brand’, and so it has to keep up the pretence. This means that a lot of stuff is allowed through the cracks. Hyde’s piece in today’s Guardian is perhaps a case in point.

    Would you venture what side the Guardian will come out and support in this election?

    The Sausage Roll Party, perhaps?

  • Peacewisher

    @Ishmael. Stick around. And good luck with helping the Greens. They’ve had almost as bad a press as UKIP and SNP…

  • RobG

    Ishmael, I think Craig was only saying that you should give other posters space, not that you should leave this blog.

    Heck, we all get passionate about political matters, which of course is why we post here.

    If I went full blast I could probably outdo the government agents who post here; but unlike them I am considerate of my fellow citizens.

    By all means speak out (and never be afraid of the government a-holes), but a conversation, by definition, has to be at least two-way: allow others the space to also speak.

  • Ishmael

    Rob, it was a series of very shot posts. Live thoughts.

    It does not stop anyone discussing the….whatever. Anything

    I don’t want to leave in bad blood. But this is really not a good point RobG. It’s starting to smell.

    And nobody engaged save to try and, as you are, make this my issues, when I never asked anyone to do anything. Stop feeding me this crap and telling me i’m full of shit.

    If you can’t say a fond farewell, maybe it’s your issue.

  • John Goss

    John Spencer Davis, thank you so much for the Paul Foot article on the “Peasants’ Revolt”. Poetry is my thing and ever since reading Foot’s “Red Shelley” I have been a fan. As well as the importance of the message, the historical research, and the socialist roots it portrays, the great thing for me is Foot’s style. There is much all writers and potential writers can learn from this.

  • craig Post author

    John Goss

    If you haven’t read it, Michael Foot’s The Politics of Paradise is brilliant.

    Ishmael all I objected to was your splitting up your contribution on this thread into 11 very short posts, which was a bit self-indulgent. It’s not a poetry website. The content was fine if you ran them together.

  • RobG

    It only smells of freedom, Ishmael.

    Something that apparently most people thesedays don’t have a clue about.

    This isn’t the CIA’s FaceBook, or Twitter, et al.

    The government agents aside, it’s real people trying to have a real conversation.

    You know where to post funny pictures of your cat…

  • RobG

    Craig, we cross-posted; and I think Ishmael will get the message.

    And I’m sure Craig Murray has written some poems in his time.

  • John Goss

    Craig, thanks for that. Not so keen on Byron, though respect him as a poet. but I love that brief interlude when there seemed to be so much hope in literature and science. It has hopefully made a great impression on all students of English literature, amazingly against the establishment choice. Robert Bage, in “Hermsprong” as a novelist of ideas brought to the table the
    revolutionary Mary Wollstonecraft’s idea that women might also have some needs shortly after she had written her ‘Rights of Women’.

    I think Michael Foot would have made a great PM. Don’t know who knobbled him to make him look like a white-legged buffoon while he was on the campaign trail, or whether it was a proper unfortunate accident. One way or another you’ve got to believe in the Devil even if you don’t believe in God.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Where we live, we have a traditional English Festival..and we all go marching round the streets of Our Village..The Place We Live

    And We Burn The Straw Jack

    It’s a Harvest Festival..

    I don’t do Facebook well only a bit..and she says well where the hell is it? I said log on to your own account love..She said no you do it for me..I asked well O.K. – what’s Your Password Wife?

    She says..well its all on my mobile phone..why isn’t it there…

    Just look at what we both did tonight…

    Were We There?

    Did anyone take a photo of you…

    Did anyone take a photo of me…

    Did we have a completely Brilliant time…

    Did all our Friends Turn Up ..including all Your Beautiful Girl Friends…

    Why do you want to see this all on Facebook?

    She says..cos I took the photos on My Mobile Phone..and They are Not There…

    I said well what the fck..You were…

    And The Band Were Brilliant

    In fact we all were..

    Why do you want to publicise this???

    Its just normal..

    No one is interested…

    And so we walked home together..with me wearing that shirt.

    I was just wearing my Girl.

    I Love Her To Bits.


  • Tony_0pmoc

    Look if none of you cn’ts are going to start making sense…then I sure as hell are not going to vote for any of you

    Try a bit of Truth

    Oh we Can’t Do That ..We are Bribed, Blackmailed and Threatend By The American Neocons and Their Lunatic Friends and We Actually Believe the Russians are Going To Nuke These Cnts..well if They Don’t Behave…

    Have You Seen The State of The Girls in Washington at The USA Press’s Department..Doing This Insanity Live..

    I Mean FFS I would Rather Shag Edwina Currie.

    The Americans can’t be Serious


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