Electoral Commission Obstructionism on Indyref2 is Just a Foretaste 157


The Electoral Commission has sought to apply the handbrake to the gathering momentum for a new Independence referendum, by a submission to the Scottish Parliament which is a model of bureaucratic obstructionism. This is simply a foretaste of the attitude of the “neutral” and “independent” organs of the United Kingdom state, such as the BBC and Electoral Commission, in the coming struggle for Independence, in which the British state will be using all possible levers to defend its own existence.

It should not be forgotten that it is the Electoral Commission which insists that the postal ballots be mixed with the ordinary ballots before counting, so there can be no record of any discrepancy between the postal ballot result and ordinary ballots. If the ordinary ballot was 60% yes and 40% no, but the postal ballot was 90% no and 10% yes, this information is deliberately and systematically destroyed by the counting method insisted on by the Electoral Commission. I have for years been attempting to get a coherent official justification for this deliberate destruction of obviously vital information in guarding against fraud, and have never received one. So I openly proclaim I do not start here from a position of trust in the Electoral Commission.

The Guardian is reporting triumphantly that the Electoral Commission’s submission to the Scottish Parliament on the legislation for Indyref2 throws a 2020 date into doubt and requires at least a nine month lead period for the referendum. This is (for once) a broadly accurate report from the Guardian.

In particular the Electoral Commission argues at para 7 of its submission for a period of “at least six months” between the passing of the legislation and the start of the campaign. This is so that campaigners and administrators can learn and thoroughly understand the rules before the campaign gets underway.

This is ridiculous bureaucratic bullshit. In the EU referendum campaign, the period between the legislation coming into force in December 2015 and the vote – not the campaign start, the vote, – in June 2016 was six months and one week. For Indyref2 the Electoral Commission is claiming it needs six months before the campaign even can start. Yet we have already had a Scottish Independence referendum and the rule changes proposed by either the Scottish Government or the Electoral Commission are minor. The main rules are already known, we have done it before and I have understood all of the proposed changes within three hours of studying them – it does not need six months. More fundamentally, since when has legislation come into force with a six month grace period while we get used to it? I don’t recall that happening the last time they lowered the drink driving limit.

The Electoral Commission then at para 11 suggests that the campaign period, following the six month “understand the rules” period, is a minimum of ten weeks. This is preceded by a six week period for designating lead campaigners. It is not quite clear if the Electoral Commission thinks the six week designation period can be during the six month know the rules period, but the implication is not. So it appears the Electoral Commission is proposing a minimum of six months plus six weeks plus ten weeks – ie 10 months – between the entry into force of the referendum legislation and the date of the referendum.

But that is not the limit of the Electoral Commission’s obfuscation. It is demanding the right to change the referendum question, in line with unionist demands. The perfectly straightforward “Should Scotland Be an Independent Country?” – which delivered a result the unionists are loudly declaiming as definitive – was approved by the Electoral Commission. They now “firmly recommend” they should have the power to insist on a new question after 12 weeks consultation with focus groups, opinion polls and political parties, which mumbo jumbo the Commission characterises as “new evidence”, which is an interesting definition of “evidence”. What the Electoral Commission means is that it will insist on a question for which the Tories have long argued, as here:

Had the question been more precisely, “Should Scotland leave the United Kingdom?”, the “No” vote would have been much stronger.

I suspect that the Boris Johnson cabinet has in fact made the prospect of leaving the UK a much more appealing prospect, and this much touted question effect may have radically diminished, but the unionists and Electoral Commission wish to try. If anyone is yet unconvinced that the Electoral Commission is deliberately seeking to postpone an Indyref, note that they state they need a period of 12 weeks to consider the question.

I have one further point to make that has been picked up by neither the Scottish Government’s proposals nor the Electoral Commission’s proposals. That is the restriction on who can fund.

Why is that the UK and not Scotland? The only people who can vote are residents of Scotland. Surely this is a Scottish democratic exercise and the same people should be allowed to donate who are allowed to vote? Why should English residents be permitted to fund and sway the campaign in Scotland? For the purposes of this referendum, England is as foreign to the process as anywhere else, and if English residents can fund a campaign, then why ban French, German, Spanish, American or Russian residents?

The United Kingdom routinely holds its General Elections in five weeks from dissolution of parliament to the new PM moving into Downing Street, and occasionally in less than a month. Those elections feature long and complex manifestos containing myriad policies, generally published about three weeks before the polling date. The notion that a second Scottish Independence referendum would require ten months, and that it would require a new question, is nonsense that further calls into question the motives of the Electoral Commission.

We have become used to the brazen anti-Independence bias of the BBC. It is hard to live with the cognitive dissonance that comes from distrusting the institutions we have been brought up to respect, but we should treat the Electoral Commission with no more trust than the BBC.

There will not be a repeat of 2014. The British Establishment were fairly relaxed about that Independence referendum because they did not believe they could lose – remember Yes started around 30%. They had the fright of their lives, and we saw the ramping up of BBC bias, the breaking of purdah rules with “the Vow”, and some peculiar postal vote turnouts in response. This time all that will be much exaggerated and we will definitely see a far higher presence from the UK government’s online covert players – 77th Brigade, GCHQ, Integrity Initiative etc. We will see more activity from security services including by agents planted inside the Independence movement which could include agents provocateurs and false flag incidents. And we will see state institutions like the BBC and Electoral Commission acting in an increasingly biased fashion.

That is why it is essential that, if we go the referendum route again, we have international observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who will monitor all of these aspects, crucially including media monitoring. I hope to announce a new initiative on this shortly on which I will request your assistance.

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157 thoughts on “Electoral Commission Obstructionism on Indyref2 is Just a Foretaste

1 2
  • Brianfujisan

    Well Said Craig..

    Was it the east coast Press and Journal that Lied about Manky’s crew..quoting 2;500 unionists ..when in FACT there were Less than 50.. opposed to 12,000 indy marchers ?

    • Courtenay Barnett

      In the US there is voter suppression. Various methods are used depending on the demographics and the likelihood of negatively impacting certain “undesirable” eligible voters.

      The electronic vote and its susceptibility to manipulation is but another aspect of seeking to predetermine outcomes.

  • Colin Dawson

    The Electoral Commission has no legal position in the legislation concerning referendums proposed by the devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations so I have two words for them and the second one is off.

    Scotland does not need the permission of the UK Government or the Electoral Commission to hold a referendum on whether to terminate the Treaty of Union and we will certainly not allow them to dictate the timescale for such a referendum.

    • Les Wilson

      One would think that would be the case Colin, but this is Westminster we are talking about.

      The fact that UK doners would be able to fund the no campaign is also a nonsense in a Scottish only vote. How can that be legal or democratic. So much wrong with all of this. They INSIST, who are they to insist on anything Scotland does, they are another English construct, they proved that in 2014.
      Also do we not have our own laws that could do something about this. Can we not use our own legal system to thwart their evil intentions?
      Legals please advise….

  • Samual Adams

    At some point you just got to throw the damn tea into the harbor and tell the King and his minions what you really think of them.

  • Kangaroo

    Spot on Craig, it is indeed no business of the British State whether or not there is another indyref. There was no interference from the EU regarding the Brexit vote.

    Hopefully we will not need a Referendum this time.
    #DissolveTheUnion

    • john king

      I hope not as well, its far harder to gerrymander an election than it is to do it with a referendum!

    • Mist001

      Nicola Sturgeon is on record many times as saying that she will not hold a second Indyref WITHOUT a section 30 order. I don’t know if it’s the business or not of the British state whether or not there is an Indyref2 but one thing I do know, is that Sturgeon is MAKING it the business of the British state by maintaining that she won’t act without a section 30.

    • djm

      “There was no interference from the EU regarding the Brexit vote”

      Well, it’s still fairly early in the morning, but I won’t read anything more stupidly inaccurate on T’web today.

  • David

    there was overt interference from the English intelligence cyber agencies during Indyref1, it was illegal, probably mis-used GCHQ & HMGCC for months. They had a very fast OODA loop, observe-orient-decide-act, such as any potentially-viral pro-Scotland YT content was very quickly neutralised.

    This time, presuming brexit chaos and an inevitable Indyref2, the cyber agencies have recently been ‘legalised’ (to commit illegal-acts on home territory), and been strengthened to include not least the 77th Brigade agents of change (or in this case no-change) “using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries” (Oh, and the 77th Brigade is destined to be at maximum ‘Special Influence Methods’ strength in December 2019….)

    Wow, that’s going to be some battle!

    I’m not trying to be negative, but some parts of UK are already planning & training to have a full spectrum ‘digital battle of Bannockburn’ or just make the provincial populace worry about other Hobgoblins, and go away

    • Dungroanin

      “In the official 10 week campaign we served about one billion targeted digital adverts, mostly via Facebook and strongly weighted to the period around postal voting ..”

      Dominic Cummings on the Brexit referendum.

  • Antonym

    London had ample practice keeping its over sea colonies down through hook and crook for ages; now Scotland will be at the receiving end.

    • michael norton

      If you look at the trouble that Ireland has caused the U.K. over the last one hundred years, you will understand that they can never let that sort of thing happen again and they will not let it happen
      by any and all means, including armed troops on the ground, rigging Referenda and locking people up, probably including torture.

  • Tanya Stone

    I agree with Colin Dawson and Sam Adams. Why are you allowing some UK organization to control your referendum? Surely the free nation of Scotland has the organizational ability to hold a referendum without requiring any assistance from some British bureaucracy. You could hold an “informal vote,” just a practice vote, a straw poll among yourselves, working out of local libraries or whatever local organization is ubiquitous throughout Scotland (“Scottish People Cast Your (informal) Vote This Week!”), and then count it yourselves by hand, publicly, and see where you stand. That informal vote can then be given whatever power you care to endow it with, once the count is in.

  • Adam Ash

    Craig! As you have pointed out many times; the act of assuming independence is one which involves only the people of the currently-not-independent group. Why should a British Electoral Commission be considered at all in the decision-making process of the Scots? Viewing Scotland’s struggle from afar, one wonders why Scotland does not just get on with it? Pick a day – this coming Tuesday sounds good enough – and on that day tell the world that Scotland now runs its own affairs. Let Westminster find out about it via Facebook, where all good news is found! But please, either do it, or shuddup about it!

  • Les Wilson

    You are right on all counts here Craig, I fail to see why they would not accept a previously tested and agreed wording.
    The ONLY reason for that are to assist the Unionist cause, there can beno other reason. The end up timing is another nonsense, to give their mass propaganda a chance to influence Scots.
    We have our question, it was already used, and as far as I know is an Internationally accepted question in cases like this and others to.

    The commission showed how biased it was in Indy1, they intend to abuse their position even more this time as the reason for attempted change and the various timelines is to assist the Westminster government. We should not accept this intervention in any way.

    Question, I agree with your idea of the OSCE, I know you mentioned this some time ago.That should be the way we go, the alternative was abused the last time, and will be worse this time.

    However, prior to 2014 Indy, I contacted the SNP government and pointed out that we MUST have independent monitors in place.
    Their answer to me was that this was a reserved matter, so what I suggested could not happen.
    While I believe it is Scotland’s choice not England’s, and we should not need their permission insuch actions of democracy. They will again insist, that this is a reserved matter. What do we do to make sure we can have unbiased monitors in place when they will undoubtedly say we are making the referendum illegal, despite our saying we are not?

  • Clark

    Could the Scottish Government call an “advisory” ie. non-binding referendum without Westminster approval, and in the event of a Yes majority declare UDI?

  • Chic McGregor

    The last time the OSCE was asked they said they could only monitor if invited by the UK government.

    I didn’t believe that was the case, but that is what they claimed.

    • craig Post author

      That is the case, Chic. But the Scottish government could and should request the UK government to ask.

        • Rhys Jaggar

          There is not yet a Government of England, something plenty of English folk consider to be a significant democratic deficit, especially when Scottish MPs think they can vote on financial settlements solely affecting England when devolved assemblies are not subject to votes by English MPs on analagous Scottish funding decisions.

          • Bill McLean

            “There is not yet a Government of England” – you kidding Rhys? Only for the past 312 years there has been de facto.

      • Adam Ash

        Craig, respectfully, are not you and Scotland-in-total being suckered here? The establishment seems to have cemented in your poor wee heads the notion that you have to defer to some other power to ask Scots questions about the future of Scotland. Just ask, run your internal referendum and find out what you – the good people of Scotland, want. Don’t try and convince your present ‘elected representatives’ to do it – they are part of the Westminster system, and will not take their noses out of that trough. You need to set up a shadow provisional government of people who are respected by the populace, prepare a draft constitution and basic laws, run a referendum under its new standard, and act on the results. The most important thing you can and must do is to utterly and completely ignore Westminster and its lackeys. You must walk your own path, else go to your graves mourning an opportunity lost.

  • Dave

    There have always been postal votes, but initially this required a bit of effort to obtain, if you expected to be unable to attend the polling station. Then following falling turn-outs Blair promoted ever-so-easy postal voting to increase turn-outs. The rationale being high turn-outs (highlighted) gave the system legitimacy, even if the system was now wide open to abuse (not-highlighted), although a high court judge did say the system was worthy of a banana republic!

    But Lab and Con happy with the change for administrative and self-serving reasons and because a higher turn-out would ease pressure for a genuine change in the system with voting reform.

    I held a survey at the time and found postal votes both increased and decreased turn-out. Increased those who formerly couldn’t be bothered to walk to the polling station and decreased those worried about no longer having a secret ballot. But democracy is partly a ritual and is sustained if everyone shares in the ritual of walking to the polling station on the same day and without the early voting gives added impetus to election campaigns.

    Hence rather than seek changes to postal voting, the practice should be ended and reserved for those who genuinely are unable to attend a polling station.

    • michael norton

      yes Dave, the trickery of postal voting, should be reduced to the bed-ridden.
      This will get round a lot of the fraud.
      I fully agree that walking to your local polling station shows you making the slight effort to engauge in the democratic process and this is important.

      • Terry callachan

        It’s not just postal votes that are the trickery there is the PROXY vote as well which I consider to be more risky than postal voting at least with postal voting you know where it was posted.

        With proxy voting you can get someone else to vote on your behalf, the rules say if

        1) You will be away on polling day
        2) You have a medical condition or illness
        3) You are working or in HM forces and can’t get to a polling station

        1) Just think how many people no longer live in Scotland but get someone they know in Scotland to do a proxy vote

        2) So many people who have Alzheimer’s dementia etc who cannot make a reasoned judgement about anything could be voting by proxy if a relative or friend etc applies to do the proxy vote the councils do not check that signatures are valid just like social security don’t check signatures as valid

        3) People working or in HM forces would surely just do a postal vote unless this is for those working overseas only

        I recently read the Scottish govt new legislation on voting and it is just so weak and open to fraud.

        Bottom line is if you cannot get to a polling station you don’t get a vote unless you can provide a medical certificate from your doctor to say they confirm that you would not have been in a fit enough state of health to get to your polling station and that rule would have to make sure that the doctor based their judgement on their examination of your health records or an examination of you yourself.
        None of this nonsense where the doctor just writes on the medical certificate what the patient tells them.

    • nevermind

      Postal votes can be applied for until the day of election, hurriedly put into any ballopt box and or electoral office to be added to the count. As an election agent, having dealt with a few officials in charge, I have NEVER seen postal votes being mixed with normal votes, they are counted separately and verified separately.
      Further, postal votes can come from overseas from anybody with a UK passport who at one time has resided in Scotland some 30 years ago, a practise I look upon as gerrymandering, as these people do not contribute or take part, pay taxes or contribute much to the economy, Craig knows of this practise and it stinks. To let Scottish voters living in England vote, is just about acceptable.

      Voting from home because of this that and the other reason should seize, which leaves the option of proxy voting with family members, who then could enable you to take part in a vote referenda.

      Elections under a FPTP system are easily rigged/skewed and the electoral commission is a b…h to the political party of the day. and we all know its currently led by a snollygoster of the worst kind.

      • Ruth

        ‘I have NEVER seen postal votes being mixed with normal votes, they are counted separately and verified separately.’

        After councils receive and process the postal votes with rigid checks that they are valid, the actual ballot slips in their envelopes are put into large boxes ready to be taken to the counting centre on election day. There the envelopes are opened and the ballot slips are mixed with the polling station votes. They are counted to check that the exact number of votes registered at the council offices matches the number of votes

        This I have checked.

        • Lorna Campbell

          You are correct, Ruth. However, I believe that the postal votes are recorded separately before being mixed in with the polling station votes, so that, after that, it is impossible to extrapolate from them in any meaningful way, and the Electoral Commission did not keep a separate record of the YES/NO votes for each part of the ballot. We can only surmise that the postal vote heavily outweighed the polling station vote. The postal vote is also recorded on computer before the final count, leaving it open to interference. If interference is possible, in the event of an independence referendum it can quickly become more than possible. The only way to know for certain if it has been tampered with would be to obtain the information of every postal voter’s vote by asking them and seeing if that tallied. I believe, too, that ballot papers are destroyed after the vote and count, but I’m not sure on that point. The secret ballot is, itself, a double-edged sword. International observers, appointed by the UN, are a must at any such referendum, and it should not be within the gift of the UKG to offer this service or not. It should be a prerequisite.

    • elkern

      Oregon (USA) does all elections by Postal Ballot only, and everyone there seems to like it. Oregon is (IMHO) a relatively well-run State, with a history of electing smart independent Senators (like Wayne Morse, rare Republican who opposed Vietnam War). It’s turned solidly Blue (Democrat) recently – a rational reaction to the dementia which has overtaken the GOP – but I think they’ve been using Postal (only) Ballot for a couple decades.

      I’m skeptical – to me, the process of voting in person is fun & important. I get to see the local school (or firehouse, or other local public building); I like the idea & the reality of standing in line with My Fellow Citizens, trying to find politically neutral things to joke about. I’d miss it, and I think losing that experience would be another step down the path from Citizens to Consumers.

      Some techno-optimists have suggested on-line balloting, but the Russia! Russia! Russia! may have dampened that squib. XKCD nailed it:

      https://www.xkcd.com/2030/

      Anyway, best wishes to Scotland!

  • Alec

    Why do the English people have no say in the union? What make you think we want to continue with it? Surely if you are arguing for a democratic vote about an agreement involving two or more parties then all should be allowed to vote whilst not having a veto on the other’s future?

      • Kempe

        Then why have we had years of negotiations with the EU over Brexit? Is no deal Independence going to be any better than no deal Brexit? Does Scotland really want a hard border with its biggest trading partner?

        • Dungroanin

          But the UK will leave without a no deal legally. Scotland is not allowed to leave. Just like the Catalans aren’t allowed to leave …
          It ain’t rocket science.

          • William Purves

            The Catalonians did not have a treaty with Spain. The Scottish people, who are Sovereign, have a Treaty of Union between their Government and the English Government, which is actually the present Westminster Government as the English Government did not dissolve its self in 1707 as it was supposed to do. They cheated from the very beginning.
            Scotland, being one of the two signatories, can, therefore, repeal the Treaty. International law would uphold this.

    • John Macadam

      Gorbachev argued the same point about the Baltic States, saying that the consent of the Baltic States and Russia was required for their Independence. The argument is not only fundamentally imperialist, it’s also a loser

    • nevermind

      According to Alec, EU citizens living here and paying taxes, in some cases far higher than others, etc. who have lived here longer than in their countries of birth, who have made the UK their home, disregarding the nationalistic money grab of becoming citizens, should have had a vote in the Brexit referendum.

  • Sharp Ears

    The place persons involved are here:
    https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/who-we-are-and-what-we-do/who-we-are/commissioners/our-commissioners

    The chair, Sir John Holmes, ex Ambassador etc, is a director of the Ditchley Foundation. Nuff said.

    Dame Sue Bruce has responsibility for Scotland.

    ‘Term: 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2020
    Dame Sue Bruce is our Commissioner with responsibility for Scotland.
    Sue Bruce is a non-executive director with SSE PLC; Chair of Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO); and is a Deputy Lieutenant of the City of Edinburgh. She is also a member of the Audit Committee of the University of Strathclyde, and a former Chair of Young Scot.

    Sue Bruce served in Local Government for almost 40 years, finishing in 2015. Her most recent post was as Chief Executive of The City of Edinburgh Council having previously served as Chief Executive at Aberdeen City Council and Chief Executive at East Dunbartonshire Council. Amongst her noteworthy achievements was the turnaround of the Edinburgh Tram Project, the establishment of the Edinburgh Guarantee and prior to that, the performance improvement of Aberdeen City Council.’

    The Commission’s annual expenditure is £23.5m

    You get a silly answer when you ask who appoints the commissioners.

    ‘Who appoints the electoral commission?
    1.The Electoral Commission was established by Parliament as a body independent of Government. The Chair of the Electoral Commission and the other Electoral Commissioners are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen, following an Address from the House of Commons.
    12 Dec 2017
    Appointment of an Electoral Commissioner – The Speaker’s Committee
    https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmspeak/688/68803.htm

  • nevermind

    This is an attempt to stall and introduce rigmarole into the method of referenda, wholly designed to stifle Scvottish Independence and its movement.
    Any very large Independent poll carried out and showing a massive rise in the desire to be Independent, should/could be leading to a debate in Holyrod on an immediate withdrawl from the UK, whop and what should be negotiated and what taxes should be re allocated to strengthen budgets as Scotland crashes out of the uncertainty of living under an ever increasing fascist regime.

    Three letters UDI

  • Willie

    A most interesting illumination of the part that the Electoral Commission plays in the war against Scottish independence.

    But it only a part of the ear being waged by the dark forces of state.

    Ultimately though the state will resort to physical force if all else fails. Just look at NI where they are gaming for force – and indeed now have more undercover.special forces operating than during the troubles.

    Ireland will burn again. There is no way the UK will let it go – the collapsing of the Assembly and replacement with Westminster rule, the repudiation of the Good Friday Agreement. Who cares if the Irish shoot each other was Stanley Johnson’s recent opinion. It don’t get much more subtle than that.

    And so in Scotland we can expect no less. Undermine the Scottish parliament, intervene in Scottish voting and then some. Plan for physical intervention. No they would never do that – eh?

    Many thanks Craig for lighting up this particular Electoral Commission ploy. Most folks would otherwise be blissfully unaware.

    • Sharp Ears

      The state broadcaster had a long story on Mountbatten last night, on the 40th anniversary of his death. I did wonder about the timing.

      Given full welly by Ms Viner.
      ‘TV tonight: a masterpiece on the assassination of Lord Mountbatten
      His killing by the IRA in 1979 is the focus of a moving and powerful documentary. Here’s the evening’s best TV.
      19 Aug 2019
      The Mullaghmore Memorial Cross to the death of Lord Louis Mountbatten.
      Photograph: Ronachan Films and Erica Starling
      The Day Mountbatten Died
      9pm, BBC Two
      Director Sam Collyns’s powerful film about the events surrounding the IRA’s assassination of Lord Louis Mountbatten in Sligo in August 1979 is a respectful masterpiece, which uses Mountbatten’s death as a springboard to discuss the other lives taken by the terrorists that fateful day in revenge for Bloody Sunday: three others aboard his boat Shadow V and 18 British soldiers murdered in Northern Ireland. Friends, relations, military commanders and even former IRA men tell the dreadful tale.’
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0007smd/the-day-mountbatten-died

      It ended with a photo of P Charles looking at Mountbatten, and a voiceover – ‘The grandfather he never had’.

  • Ruth

    I absolutely agree with you that postal votes should be counted separately and have raised the issue before. I believe putting the votes together is a deliberate ploy by the Establishment to turn elections or referendums..

    After councils receive and process the postal votes with rigid checks that they are valid, the actual ballot slips in their envelopes are put into large boxes ready to be taken to the counting centre on election day. There the envelopes are opened and the ballot slips are mixed with the polling station votes. They are counted to check that the exact number of votes registered at the council offices matches the number of votes. However, if a government was so-minded/desperate for a certain result, surely it would be very simple to get its agents to enter council offices and swap boxes making sure that the total number of votes correspond to the number of council registrations of the postal votes sometime before election day. Postal votes make up about 20% of the vote. If the government with the intelligence services wanted to swing the vote, all they’d have to do is swap the boxes in marginal seats.

    I believe the Scottish referendum was rigged and interestingly the BBC, ITV and Sky didn’t run any exit votes so there was nothing to compare the referendum result with other than opinion polls that are quite easy to fix.

    • Lorna Campbell

      The postal ballots are registered on-line way before the final double count, Ruth, and I believe they are also counted separately as a preliminary, so that they are, in effect, counted twice when they go to the polling station count. If there are shenanigans, it is on-line where the data could be changed and existing ballot papers replaced with others but containing the genuine voters names and addresses, but not their genuine vote. It is probable that, if this were to be done, it would have to be done by one of the arms of government – the security services, perhaps? I think what Mr Murray is saying is that, if the postal ballot is much higher for NO, higher than the polling station vote, the authorities will naturally opt for more postal ballots – and they are the ones that are not really open to scrutiny before polling day.

  • Muscleguy

    Last time here in Dundee we in RIC tried to gain access to nursing homes to campaign. We were refused but BT teams were seen going in to large nursing homes multiple times.

    I wonder how many elderly people without their faculties voted No via postal votes in 2014? It was an obvious rort and over the whole country would have garnered a lot of votes.

    Back in NZ the equivalent are Special Votes, you can vote in any polling station in any constituency and in Embassies etc. These are couriered to the relevant constituency and have to be counted separately because the validity of each voter has to be checked against the local roll and parties try and challenge this.

    Special votes have decided close contests. I don’t see any reason why postal votes should be treated any differently. I also think the restrictions on where you can vote should end and postal voting restricted as a consequence.

  • Sarge

    Even with bureaucratic stalling, a propaganda tsunami and enhanced spook activity, it seems inconceivable that a majority of Scots would choose to be ruled by an uppercrust English nationalist / proto-imperialist manchild like Boris Johnson. If they did, then I doubt the world would ever look at Scots in the same way again.

    • N_

      Anybody who thinks independence boils down to that issue should be “looked at” in a certain way, that’s for sure. By “think” it, I mean really think it, rather than think it’s expedient to frame the propaganda like that. Oh, wait. Those who deceive others often do deceive themselves.

      How long do you expect Boris Johnson to remain in office?

      • Sarge

        I expect Johnson to still be in office when indyref2 takes place, even if he calls an early election. He will frame that election as a straightforward vote on finally respecting the EU referendum result and paint Labour as democracy-defying remainers. It’s very clear too that Corbyn’s own Mps will seek to cut the legs from him, along with the entire media.

        So Scots will be deciding whether they want to continue to be ruled by a contemptuous Eton toff who is a lapdog of John Bolton and openly bought by oligarchs. Under those circumstances, you will seriously need to up your own propaganda efforts.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        Agreed. I have long been uncomfortable with the notion that a momentary situation should sway a long term decision. As you say, how long will the current government last? What will replace it? It is a tactical error for Sturgeon to portray Johnson as UNIQUELY unacceptable. When he goes (and that will be before IndyRef II) the next administration automatically becomes less toxic (thanks to Sturgeon).

  • N_

    If “Should Scotland Be an Independent Country?” was a good enough formulation in 2014, it’s good enough now. It’s the independence side who have a proposal to make and there should not be an issue with their couching it in positive terms, assuming that the question is not leading, misleading, or hard to understand, which these words aren’t. (I leave aside the point that many people do not understand properly what “independence” means. Most understand well enough.)

    “The unionists” are not as scared as you might think. Just make the case for independence. Enough of “we always get robbed” and “even if we lose it will be because the wrong question was asked and the ballot boxes were stuffed”. Those weren’t the reasons you lost last time. Learn from your errors and good luck.

    I was in a cafe at a visitor centre at a famous tourist attraction in Scotland recently. One of the types of tea served was Twinings’ English Breakfast, as evidenced by the labels on the teabags. Staff in the cafe had described it on the board as “Breakfast Tea”. Obviously neither England nor Scotland produces the Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas of which this blend is made, but…..for goodness’ sake!!

    As for the Electoral Commission, they are a bunch of w*nkers with a budget.

  • Deb O'Nair

    The problem with postal ballots is that most of them are cast before polling day and are not secret, thereby giving a heads up as to the most likely outcome, which in turn provides ample opportunity to alter the outcome if it is not the desired one through specific campaign targeting, e.g. based on demographics, or plain old fraud. Stalin said it does not matter who votes in an election but who counts the votes.

  • Dave

    The Electoral Commission was set up by Blair to undermine democracy in the name of democracy and included the need to register as a political party if you wanted your party name on a ballot paper.

    It was another example of New Labour (New Marxism) double-speak, hence you will find undue importance attached to financial matters, which is done to ensure there are enough hurdles to deter amateurs and if not deterred to make sure no one can return an accurate return of expenses and face being de-registered as a result. And further powers to investigate and criminalise political party’s in order to de-register them.

    There was no other reason for setting up the EC because there were already well established electoral bodies to oversee the democratic process. The Association of Electoral Administrators and Returning Officers

    • Sharp Ears

      I thought that was a wind up Dave but ’tis true. A crowd of ex and serving local authority types.

      https://www.aea-elections.co.uk/about/national-officers/

      There is also the LGA, the local government association. If my own local authority is anything to go by, corruption rules and there is little or no democracy. It even made ‘Rotten Boroughs’ in Private Eye. Salaries in local and county government are eye wateringly high. Their grandiose job titles proliferate.

      • Dave

        I agree New Labour as New Marxism seems perverse, but its cultural gender et al Marxism rather than class Marxism, but both involve double-speak and a privileged elite running the state in the name of the people and if you question the elite you are deemed an enemy of the people.

  • c avery

    I contacted my local council just after the referendum in 2014 and was advised by the lady i spoke to that they had been undated by rUK citizens applying to vote; stating that their holiday homes were their permanent residence. i dont even want to begin about transient students also getting to vote.

    • jake

      It’s not just holiday homes ( and the potential to enfranchise every member of an extended family), it’s accommodation addresses, b&bs, buy to lets, time-shares, static caravans, lodges, wigwams and the rest all of which can potentially provide an “address” as a basis to claim habitation and electoral registration rights ( along with free prescriptions, personal care, university tuition fees etc).

  • Petra

    I was informed prior to 18th September 2014 that all postal votes were being sent to England. For what? After a great deal of phoning around, and so on, before and after the 18th, I got nowhere in relation to the ”English question”, but found out that the postal votes were opened and counted (not just validated) in Renfrewshire from the 8th September 2014 on, due to the sheer volume of applications. I wonder if this was actually happening right across the country? This could also account for Davidson, et al, being aware of the result beforehand.

    And following the Indyref1 result Individual Electoral Registration was introduced in Scotland on 19 September 2014.

    http://www.renfrewshire-vjb.gov.uk/electoral

    ……………………………………………………

    If this is what they were capable of doing 20 odd years ago what can they do now? Seemingly holding exit polls is the only way to expose such practice.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzBI33kOiKc

    • Lorna Campbell

      It doesn’t matter of they were predominantly for NO – well, it does, but you know what I mean – it is illegal for the final votes to be known to any political party or individual. Those are the EC’s own bloody rules. Yes, John McTernan and Ruth Davidson, to name just two – there were others – boasted about the size of the NO postal vote and how it would determine the end result of the referendum. McTernan made this pronouncement a full four days before the close of poll on a public programme to Andrew Neil, I believe. Four full days before the close of poll. These people were investigated and talked some s***e about having taken samples of the postal vote – also illegal if the final envelopes were opened by these ‘samplers’. Were they subject to legal proceedings? No. Banana Republic doesn’t do this farce justice. How dare they try to limit any future independence referendum.

  • Petra

    Take a look at the differences between postal voting in Scotland (UK) and Northern Ireland. If we adopted their (NI) more stringent practice it could cut right down on Electoral fraud. There’s also a section on the UK (Scottish) ballot paper that you can fill in if you want your form to be sent to an address that’s different to your registration address. Handy or what?

    Scotland:-

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/711954/Apply-to-vote-by-post-England-Scotland-and-Wales__1_.pdf

    More stringent? You don’t have to give a reason for requesting a postal vote in Scotland (UK), however you do in Northern Ireland, such as in relation to disability. Filling that form in, alone, would surely deter many fraudsters.

    ”Provide the reason for the application and if applicable tick the relevant box. If

    • you receive the higher rate of attendance allowance; or
    • you receive the highest rate of the care component of
    the disability living allowance; or
    • you receive the higher rate of the mobility component of
    the disability living allowance

    because of your disability, you MUST enclose evidence such as an official letter. In all other cases you must have the form attested at section 7 by a qualified person.

    Please ensure you provide sufficient detail to support your application or your application may be refused.”

    Northern Ireland:-

    http://www.eoni.org.uk/vote/voting-by-post-or-proxy

    http://www.eoni.org.uk/getmedia/d8208cb7-a9c0-4dd6-ab25-b094523c31dc/Indefinite-Absent-Vote-Application-form-Disability

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Interesting, I didn’t know that NI had substantially tougher rules on postal voting. Presumably this is to keep out the undesirables (Sinn Féin). It is alleged that Sinn Féin’s electioneering moto was “vote early, vote often”.

      The point I think is that NI notwithstanding, the rules on postal voting are lax precisely to facilitate Deep State interference.
      Take the attitude of authorities to Deep State favourite, Jo Swinson running £7,000 over election expenses limits for East Dumbartonshire. “Nothing to see here, move along now”.

    • Willie

      But voting counts for nothing in NI – postal or in person.

      A repudiated Good Friday Agreement, The collapse of the Assembly and direct rule. The disregard for the vote on favour of the EU. The callous and flagrant demand for no backstop and the reintroduction of a border.

      Democracy does not work on NI with a resurgence of violence. But Boris and his ilk do not care. A return to violence is exactly what the Brexiteer British want.

      At a stroke it will allow them to show resolve, steadfastness, and the galvanising for some of the true British no surrender mentality – which in the case of the Argentina conflict, reelected Thatcher.

      It will also justify a clampdown on Scotland if one be needed. And

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