Saturday, 11 April 2015

Sausage Roll Republic

In parts of Thailand and other Asian "democracies" it's quite common for candidates to simply buy votes. From a couple of pounds for a council seat to a bottle of £5 whisky plus cash for a parliamentary seat, straight out buying of votes is a fairly common practice. It's rightly seen as a shabby and cynical ploy which favours corrupt politicians with relatively cheap votes from rural peasants who probably wouldn't otherwise use them.

That is "treating." One of the strategies that corrupt and powerful elites use to keep a tight hold on their power and privelage in third world countries with large populations of ill informed people. The fairly crude method they use to do this is to drive around on election day announcing their offer through a megaphone. In the worst areas there have been allegations of them actually bringing ballot papers to ensure the vote is cast "correctly" once procured.

Meanwhile in Southampton UKIP candidate Kim Rose has been asked to report to a police station to answer the charge that he was using the same tactics to buy votes in the Itchen seat he is contesting in next month's general election.

What had this corrupt monster offered his would be constituents to pervert the course of democracy? A sausage roll. On the 21st of February, over 2 months before polling day, Rose had put on a party where for £2 entry there was some snookering of some sort with Jimmy White, tea, coffee and sausage rolls.

Now 3 weeks before the election it has been decided that this grave electoral fraud needs to be investigated, and as far as I can tell before police have had so much as an informal discussion with Rose about his actions, the national media informed.

Another tactic used by powerful third world rulers to keep hold of their power while maintaining a facade of democracy is to use the police, the civil service and the media to throw damaging accusations at potential rivals to discredit them and their parties in the run up to elections.

With the caveat that I'm not a lawyer, it seems that the relevant legislation here is s114 Representation of the People Act 1983 which states that

“A person shall be guilty of treating if he corruptly, by himself or by any other person, either before, during or after an election, directly or indirectly gives or provides, or pays wholly or in part the expense of giving or providing, any meat, drink, entertainment or provision to or for any person—

(a) for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting; or

(b) on account of that person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting, or being about to vote or refrain from voting“

The person who receives the meat is also guilty of an offence, if he accepts it ‘corruptly’.

So make up your own mind whether a sausage roll at a party 10 weeks before an election is "corruptly influencing" people to vote for UKIP, or whether some quite different third world tactics are being employed to influence voters in Southampton and beyond.