The report on electoral fraud from Sir Eric Pickles has been grim if unsurprising reading for those concerned about the abuse of our democratic institutions. The findings show that forms of voter fraud ranging from the use of religion to blackmail voters, endemic postal vote fraud, intimidation of vulnerable voters and outright vote rigging are evident, especially in Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities across Britain, including the infamous Tower Hamlets. Moreover, it finds that law enforcement has been turning a blind eye to this crime so as to protect fragile sensibilities.
The report makes a few common-sense recommendations, such as curtailing intimidation by requiring activists speak English at polling booths, clamping down on postal vote fraud and requiring some form of ID to be provided at polling stations, though inexplicably it does not state that this should be photo ID. These proposals are drawing an entirely predictable reaction from certain leftist media outlets, pressure groups and politicians, a reaction that can be divided into three parts.
First, there are accusations that the report is racist as it singles out Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities. The issue with this is that the report reflects the facts, and the facts are that said communities are objectively more likely to be the setting of electoral fraud than other communities, so this accusation can be dispensed with almost immediately. Pointing out that some communities are more likely to engage in certain activities when it is objectively true is an act not of racism but of observation. Indeed, to ignore these findings because they don’t show every community to be equally at fault would be to set a lower bar for Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, a form of paternalistic racism in itself.
The second part comes in the wild claims of disenfranchisement by people who have no idea what they are talking about. Let us be clear: disenfranchisement means the revocation of the right to vote of a person or group. Nobody apart from the dead and those who weren’t eligible to vote in the first place will be barred from voting by a crackdown on election fraud, ergo, there is no disenfranchisement occurring. A disreputable few claim that ID requirements, like those that exist for such exclusive activities as buying alcohol, opening a bank account and applying for welfare, are a crippling barrier for minorities. A basic assessment of facts reveals that is easy to get photo ID of one form or another Britain, and that those disreputable few are assuming in spectacularly patronising fashion that minorities are too stupid to work out how it is done. These claims too, then, can be dismissed.
The final part of the entirely predictable reaction is the argument that basic precautions again voter fraud is a right wing conspiracy to reduce the Labour vote. To put it another way, this argument runs that it is unfair to curb voter fraud because Labour is the main beneficiary. While it is certain true that Labour disproportionately benefits from voter fraud, this shows a moral failing on part of certain Labourites rather than a compelling reason to enable it.
In conclusion, the Pickles report shows beyond doubt that voter fraud exists to a significant extent. Electoral fraud is a crime against the very foundations of British democracy and its very existence poisons our politics and enables thugs like Lutfur Rahman, and all the significant arguments levelled against cracking down on it are either extraordinarily foolish or extraordinarily cynical. The Pickles report is a vital and timely work, and we can only hope that its proposals are acted on swiftly.