Exclusive: electoral expert – Copeland by-election ‘unlawful’, count ‘suspect’


The fallout from last Thursday’s by-election results continues to lead news bulletins and feature prominently in the all-too-predictable media attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The media continues to try to pin responsibility for Labour’s defeat on Corbyn, even though Labour’s election results in the constituency had been in sharp decline since 1997 and an anti-Corbyn candidate was standing.

But there may be yet more to the story.

Applied IF Limited is an independent, non-partisan company that specialises in the forensic analysis of election results and has the ear of senior civil servants, the judiciary and senior police officers involved in electoral law.

The company contacted the SKWAWKBOX with a preliminary analysis of the Copeland by-election and the results may cause shockwaves.

The crux of the matter is the legislation – from the Ballot Act 1872, though the Representation of the People Act 1983 to the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act 2011 – applying to the way in which votes are counted and, in this preliminary report, to the information that must be disclosed under the pertaining legisation, for an election to be lawful.

The key matter in the preliminary instance is the count of issued, rejected and cast votes, as the rules say that rejected and valid votes must add up to the number of issued votes (minus, in the case of postal votes, any postal votes sent out but not returned. According to Applied IF, figures for all of these must be published.

In the case of the Copeland by-election, this appears not to have been fulfilled in any respect. Here is Applied IF’s ‘Simplified Voting Count Model’ Crux report:


The picture appears clear: the absence of key information on the number of ballots issued (by post or in person), the number of postal votes not returned and the number of rejected (which is not the same as ‘spoiled) ballots means that a prima facie case exists that the election was not conducted lawfully.

This means that there is significant scope for the count not to have been conducted correctly or fairly. Especially when you consider the on-air mention (video here) by the BBC’s Tom Bateman, during live coverage, of ‘unusual’ procedures around the counting trays and David Dimbleby’s announcement on Question Time that Labour had held the seat.

Applied IF’s mathematicians are currently conducting an analysis of the electoral rolls, council records and voting counts to ascertain the level, if any, of discrepancies in the process and the result. Details will be published on this blog as soon as available.

Until that point, nothing definitive can be said about the outcome of the election – but based on the information available so far, Applied IF insists that it can already conclude that the election was not conducted lawfully, which should be of serious concern to every reader, regardless of political leaning or party allegiance.

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  1. Can result be overturned ? – hopefully asking .
    Thanks too for keeping our spirits up x

  2. I’ve recently been following the story of Nigel Oakes, SCL & Cambridge Analytica, who trade on their ability to “Manage elections”. Especially as the 2015 GE win was put down to a ‘targeted social media camapign’ but also there is a postal vote conspiracy floating round Scotland as regards the referendum, reading it asks Copeland two questions, What percentage of the votes were postal (in comparison to previous years)? How did those votes break in comparison to previous years? #SurprisingToryWin


    1. Hmmm …. is this how Lynton Crosby “promised” David Cameron an election victory?
      SCL and Cambridge Analytica and their ‘election management’ seem to be cropping up a in a few places tonight. It seems they had a hand in Brexit too –
      “Cambridge Analytica, an offshoot of a British company, SCL Group, which has 25 years’ experience in military disinformation campaigns and “election management”, claims to use cutting-edge technology to build intimate psychometric profiles of voters to find and target their emotional triggers.”

  3. well this is all very curious isn’t it – we all need to watch closely how this one develops. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I don’t know if anyone checks these comments or if it is even relevant. But I noticed something fishy about this by election, too. I distinctly remember reading in, I think, the Guardian live blog on Friday that 70% of the votes cast had been postal votes. I then went back to find this yesterday but could find no trace of the comment. I then searched to find any info about the postal voting online but could find nothing.
    However, intriguingly, while the official Council website for Stoke Central gives a breakdown of the postal votes cast in its election and the detailed results given in the press do too, the Copeland one makes no mention of it at all and nor do any of the results reported in the press.
    I can now find no official breakdown of this anywhere. Seems a little strange to me.

    1. Indeed, John – 2/3 seems high, but I saw a figure of 9,000, which I’m told is more than double the number in 2015. Boundary changes were before the 2010 election, so it’s not an effect of new districts being added.

  5. Police are supposed to be investigating Conservative party fraud in 2015 elections and nothing has come of that while the MPs involved still vote in Parliament. How much is actually likely result in this latest scandal even if the worst is proved?

    1. Is that not dependent on the level of noise made? We have to make them defend the facts they present, not wait for them to present the facts! It’s not like they ever have, only cut price promises and denial of clearly defined demographic disasters that get kicked onto the next administration, ad nauseam, until they become a crisis. Because The Truth doesn’t get you elected. They only bend to public pressure and they have got used to and are willing to barge through, the pressure we currently put up. So next steps………

  6. According to someone who was at the count in Copeland, Labour were ahead at 1am when boxes of Tory postal votes were delivered.

    1. Why were they waiting for the postal votes to be delivered? There is a cut off date for them to be received so no reason for them not to be available at the start of the count. I also read that ‘9000’ postal votes were ‘awaited’. Administratively that makes no sense.

    1. It’s run by people with no party loyalties or affiliations who are as happy to point out problems with seats Labour win, which is pretty much the definition of independent and non-partisan. Try reading the article and arguing with what it says – otherwise it’s you who stink of desperation.

      1. “It’s run by people with no party loyalties…”

        Yeah – looks really, really non-partisan to me. Enjoy coming up with ever more outlandish reasons for why Labour are consigning themselves to history – other than the obvious!

      2. Apparently, according to these people, the 2015 GE counting model was fraudulent and the EU referendum unlawful. If these allegations are true then they have presumably been reported to whichever authorities have jurisdiction. Can you ascertain the outcome of these reports? A briefing as to exactly which part of which legislation has been breached, and in what way, in Copeland would also be useful reading. Or it could just be a lot of nonsense of course!

      3. Investigations continue. But they’re irrelevant to the facts of this case, which is what you should be addressing instead of casting aspersions.

      4. “It’s run by people with no party loyalties or affiliations”

        Some sample posts by one of its directors on twitter:


        “If you want to help Corbyn – and Corbyn’s Labour – read and share this https://skwawkbox.org/2017/02/26/if-you-want-to-help-corby

        On Tom Watson:

        “Tory party wannabe”

        “#CorbynMustGo to New Brighton for his Easter break. He’d get a rapturous welcome from local socialists – who know he’s doing a great job !”

        “I don’t class 1997 to 2015 as a “Labour” party. It was fecking Tory / establishment. 18 years wasted.”

        Sounds completely non-partisan and independent to me!

  7. Please get this info out there whatever way you can. It seems corruption is everywhere you look. The truth must out it should be screamed from the rooftops . We’re still awaiting the outcome of election fraud from last year . Is anyone watching this situation

  8. There was another incident which caused the BBC presenter at the count to express surprise – and that was the fact that no ballot papers were stacked on the tables in the main hall.
    This is the usual way in which it is possible to ascertain who may have won and who not.
    However, all the ballot papers were removed from the main hall so it was impossible to verify who might have won without the detailed figures to hand.
    The ballot papers were apparently taken out of the main hall to another room – highly unusual – and I can only guess that the count officials then agreed the outcome separately outside the main hall with the party agents and candidates.
    The one person you might want to contact on this is the Labour Party agent. I believe it may be someone by the name of Fiona Stanton, who is based at Copeland Labour Party, Phoenix Court, Earl Street, Cleator Moor, CA25 5AU.
    I believe they/she can be contacted via copeland@labour.org.uk or by telephone on 07872 417 306.
    We should all remember too that the turncoat Blairite former MP caused this unnecessary and unwanted by-election, which local electorates inevitably resent and usually punish the party thought to be responsible for dragging people out again to vote – again!
    Also, the local CLP seemed to go out of their way to select a non-Corbyn candidate who – ultimately – was unsuccessful.
    Blaming Corbyn for a lousy ex-member of the PLP and a lousy candidate chosen by the CLP does not make sense to me.

  9. Hmm. Interesting.
    Where does one go from here? Who is responsible for investigating?

    1. Electoral Commission, in principle – but perhaps too compromised. Let’s see what other information comes out in the next few days and decide how best to pursue.

  10. I’ve taken the time to read some more of the stuff that these people have produced. I’m amazed that anyone can take them seriously and use their output as a basis for doubting the result of the Copeland election.

    1. Strange that, since – as published this evening – at least two mainstream outlets have now gone to them for guidance on it.

  11. See https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/01/judge-grants-extension-to-police-investigation-into-tory-election which reported that a judge had granted a one-year extension for the Kent Police to investigate over-spending by the Conservative candidate in Thanet South, where Nigel Farage had stood for election in 2015.
    The original investigation was conducted by Channel 4 TV and there are numerous articles available on-line which bear out the fact that some 30+ Tory MPs may have over-spent during the general election.
    So, you see, the Tories have plenty of form where stealing elections through electoral malpractice is concerned.
    What is difficult to understand is why Labour, the Lib Dems and UKIP are not demanding progress reports on the over-spending allegations.

    1. Hi 🙂 I expect that Labour and the Liberal Democrats are asking for regular updates …. just keeping it quite 🙂

  12. This seems to be a lot of nonsense. An incomplete record does not provide any proof that the election was result was not valid.
    Please provide the final completed record. False and incomplete information proves nothing.

    1. It proves it’s unlawful, as the law requires the complete info to be provided. More will follow when it’s available. Patience – Rome wasn’t built, and all that.

      1. According to the Electoral Commission guidance to ROs the statement of Postal ballots (Form K) cannot be sent to the EC earlier than 10 days nor more than 15 after the poll. We’re currently at day 6. What’s unlawful?

  13. I asked a couple of basic, simple questions earlier to which I’m still awaiting a response from SKWAWKBOX. Exactly which part of which legislation is it alleged has been breached, and in exactly what way? Given that Applied IF Ltd claim that the EU referendum was unlawful and the 2015 GE counting model was fraudulent, have they reported these things to the appropriate authorities; if so which authorities and what has been the outcome – if not why not?

      1. I find the documents there quite difficult to follow. In the Copeland case which specific part of which specific legislation is alleged to have been breached?

    1. The total number of votes cast for all the candidates was 31,068.
      Add to that the 40 rejected ballot papers and the total is 31,108.
      This is the final figure shown on the official declaration.
      The IF report form (which is what I think you are referring to) does show the result as ‘UNLAWFUL’. Why they conclude this is not clear.
      What may also be queried is the fact that it appears that the number of ballot papers issued is exactly equal to the numbers of ballots cast for all the candidate and the 40 rejected ballot papers exactly.
      How likely is this?
      This suggests that every single postal ballot paper issued was completed and returned.
      How likely is this?

      1. That’s the point of that particular summary report. Simply reporting total votes cast does not fulfil the legal requirements and leaves huge scope for malfeasance.

    2. Exactly which part of which legislation is alleged to have been breached?

  14. If we are now talking about electoral malpractice, what strikes me is just how acquiescent the Liberal Democrats are to having been so royally rogered by the Conservatives.
    After spending 5 years in bed with them in the coalition government to then be so publicly shafted by the Tories in 2015 must be excruciating.
    The Liberal Democrats ended up losing 49 MPs; an absolutely staggering number for them to lose; my guess is that they lost most of these seats to the Tories and their dodgy over-spending practices.
    So why are the Lib Dems so quiet?
    Why are they not protesting more loudly?
    Why are they not demanding to know what the police are doing?
    Could it be that the Tories have “stuff” on the Lib Dems from their days in joint government and the Lib Dems are having to hold their tongues?

    1. ALL parties ‘may’ have ‘stuff’ on other parties MPs etc ….. BUT ….. i would guess that the Lib Dems are making complaints, just not reported by the media

  15. After a bit of digging with my Local Authority I’ve found that “Form K” is completed for each election (sample here https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/…/Local%20elections%20Form%20K%20AR.xls ) and sent to the electoral commission who presumably must collate them to have produced this report http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/191861/Plymouth-UKPGE-electoral-data-report-final-WEB.pdf (pages 8-12) and this spreadsheet http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/excel_doc/0011/191648/UKPGE-turnout-postal-rejected-admin-amended-WEB.xlsx Coluns W onwards.

    Now what legislation exactly has been breached?

  16. It looks as if my last comment exposing this, with evidence, for the nonsense it is has been censored. What price free speech in the Skwawkbox world?

    1. Haven’t censored anything, Graham. Your posts are even on auto-approve. Takes time to check – you do realise the table you sent was for the GENERAL election, not the by-election? Maybe you want to modify your belligerence now?

      1. My post of 28/2 4:38pm “Your comment is awaiting moderation. ” It’s not visible to me if I use my phone with which I haven’t commented rather than my PC with which I have, nor I assume to others.

        The thrust of Applied IF Limited’s argument is that the 2015 count was also unlawful because the correct tallies weren’t published. They were as I’ve demonstrated above. If they’re wrong on that (and their graphic above is wrong) then I think it’s pretty firm evidence that they’re wrong on Copeland.

        At GE 2015 returning officers had about a fortnight to return Form K with postal vote details. That gives Copeland until about the end of next week, so the absence of those details today means absolutely nothing.

        In the unreleased post there was a link to a FOI request that someone had made to their local council for the equivalent information held in Form K. I would suggest that anyone still clinging to this particular conspiracy theory make a similar request to Copeland in a couple of weeks time to satisfy their doubts.

      2. The 2015 figures were published some considerable time after the fact, apparently – and you can’t retrospectively make an unlawful ballot lawful by putting the missing information up long afterward.

      3. Thank you for finally publishing yesterday’s 4:38pm post, although I note that you have not acknowledged that it was effectively censored for 23 hours, contrary to your assertion.

        The Electoral Commission required Form K to be returned about a fortnight after the 2015 election, so presumably the data was available by FOI request if nothing else after that, but can you in any event point me to the specific clause in the specific legislation requiring the Form K data to be published by a specific date?

        (Obviously for the ballot to be categorised as unlawful there must be a breach of specific legislation)

      4. ‘Effectively censored’? Grow up ffs. I had a backlog of 90+ comments to moderate and a full-time ‘day job’ that requires my attention. No idea one of yours hadn’t auto-approved until you raised it and then had to find time to find it. Believe it or not, there are other things on my to-do list as well as look at your comments.

      5. But you said earlier that my posts were on auto approve. Now you say that the “censored” post had to be moderated. Which is it? The devil’s in the detail!

  17. I’d like to invite the author of this blog to join me for an interview on Press TV – If you are able to do so, email me: ukcoordinator@presstv.ir with name and contact details.
    If you are in London, we will arrange transport to and from the studio, if you are outside of London, we can perform a Skype based interview.
    Please let me know today… (01/03/2017)

  18. I’ve now been in touch with the Electoral Commission, and it appears that there is no requirement for Copeland to forward Form K to them in the case of a by election. The law does require Copeland to forward it to the government and retain a copy for a year, but not, seemingly to publish it.


    I cannot see any unlawfulness here, but In any event I’ve made a FOI request for it.

    But, of course, if Applied IF Limited know better, I’d be delighted to see their references to the appropriate legislation

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