The High Court has been hearing plenty of evidence of electoral malpractice in Tower Hamlets. Of course discovering the truth about what has happened is important and so is ensuring there are consequences for any proven culprits.
But most important of all is ensuring that democracy is restored in the future. There is a call for a rerun of the election which saw Lutfur Rahman returned as the directly elected mayor. But if that was garnted would the fresh election be conducted properly?
The evidence from Cllr Peter Golds, the Leader of the Conservative Group on Tower Hamlets Council, reported in the Evening Standard has been that the Metropolitan Police had been “extremely poor” thus far in ensuring the proper conduct of elections.
Cllr Golds said a “number of serious issues” had been raised with police in London over a “very long period”:
“I think the Metropolitan Police have been extremely poor. Speaking to colleagues up and down the country there is a general feeling, sadly and tragically, that police services are not responding to problems of electoral malpractice. In my experience elections in (Tower Hamlets) are the least transparent, worst managed and corrupt I have seen in London. I have over the past decade sent numerous letters to the police and the electoral authorities, many of which have been ignored or simply brushed aside. For over a decade electoral malpractice has been an ongoing problem in the borough … masses of evidence has been sent to the police and either ignored or been subject to ‘cut and paste’ investigations.“
The police have a duty to uphold the law. Electoral fraud is not a trivial offence. Nor is it accetable to ignore it due to sensitivities over political correctness. I fearthat Cllr Gold has a point in suggesting this is not a problem confined to Tower Hamlets. Nor is it a problem confined to the past.
This must be given a much higher priority.