Ballots directed to home address of supportive CLP secretary – and addresses of postal voters apparently circulated only to MP and supporters, who have been delivering/collecting
Labour members in Barking have complained to the SKWAWKBOX – and to the party – about irregularities in the postal vote process in the selection contest to decide who will represent the party at the next parliamentary election.
As the SKWAWKBOX exclusively reported, Hodge was ‘triggered‘ in a vote of member branches last month, in a move driven by the party’s right – many of whom were unhappy that promises they say Barking MP Margaret Hodge made to step down at the next general election were not kept and who want an MP who lives within the constituency.
The SKWAWKBOX had already reported concerns over the fact that Barking CLP (constituency Labour party) secretary Saima Ashraf, who is receiving and collating the contest’s postal ballots at her personal address, had been photographed supporting Hodge during the latter’s reselection campaign.
But members now report seeing Hodge’s supporters carrying bundles of postal votes and also collecting – within an hour of the passing of this week’s deadline for postal vote applications – completed votes from the homes of Labour members.
Other complaints include that:
- Hodge herself has offered to come and collect ballots in person from members
- that councillors supporting her have done so, including bringing family members together to all complete their ballots at the same time under guidance
- that the list of postal vote recipients provided to Hodge has been denied to other candidates
- that some candidates’ statements, which should have been delivered with the ballot papers, were either missing or carried no details of the candidate making the statement
In addition, the ballot papers are not numbered or marked with any individual identifiers to prevent copying – indeed some appear to have been printed out at the homes of members – raising fears of ballot-stuffing.
The concerns were crystallised by a visit to the home of a prominent party member, when the resident said – before any ballots should have been distributed – that it was a pity that one of the candidate names was not higher on the ballot paper. When the alarmed campaigner asked how he knew how the names were listed, he discovered that a bundle of the papers was behind a sofa cushion.
Complaints have been made to the CLP secretary and Labour’s London regional office, as well as to the party’s National Executive Committee.
Both Margaret Hodge and Saima Ashraf were contacted for comment. Neither had responded by the time of publication.
The selection campaign concludes on Monday with a final hustings and vote by Labour members present, to which the postal vote totals will be added.
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