Saturday, April 16, 2005
Me thinks he doth protest too much
I see that Michael Howard has decided to join the growing chorus of complaint against the postal voting system, which is wide open to fraud.
Yet the suspiciously large numbers of postal vote applications in several Tory target seats demonstrate that Tory activists are just as adept with a wheelbarrow as their Labour counterparts.
Indeed, all the main parties are ignoring the Electoral Commission's recommendation that they do not handle postal voting applications at a centralised local address of their own before sending them on. Under the current lax laws, centralised processing of applications is not illegal, and the Electoral Commission has no powers to enforce its recommendations.
Howard's manufactured indignation suggests a contingency plan. He knows he won't win on 5th May, and is preparing the ground to undermine the Labour government's legitimacy. He is planting the idea that, even if Blair wins, he won't 'really' be prime minister. It is doubtful Howard would be complaining so loudly if he were ahead in the polls.
Presumably the Liberal Democrats' decision to ignore the Electoral Commission's request is more pragmatic. They are just as keen to win in their marginal seats as the other parties and take the view that if you can't beat 'em, you may as well join 'em.
The consequence is that the postal voting system is tainting everyone and will make any sort of political or legal challenge after 5th May more difficult, which is obviously Labour's intention.