Democracy in Tower Hamlets is not only under attack through widespread electoral fraud but also intimidation. So it is a relief to see that police officers will be on duty outside every Polling Station in Tower Hamlets during the election for Mayor of London tomorrow.
Of course the fraud will only be stopped when those running the Council's Electoral Services Department have the will to stop it. That means carrying on systematic checks. At the moment where large numbers are registered from the same address it is shrugged off as overcrowding. Sometimes it is. But when the media have carried out spot checks they have found frequently it isn't. For instance when City AM knocked on a door in Bute House in Shoreditch where seven postal votes were cast in a recent byelection they found that only two adults lived there.
Will the votes in Tower Hamlets be enough to clinch it for Ken Livingstone? In 2008 there was a majority for Livingstone of 20,000 compared with 6,000 in 2004 – this was during a period, of course, where in London generally there was a big swing against him. Among the total votes cast across London there was a majority for Boris Johnson last time of 140,000, after including second preferences. It was a lead of 6% over Livingstone. Given that there has also been evidence of voter fraud in Newham as well as Barking and Dagenham a Livingstone victory by a margin of around 1% would probably equate to the election having been stolen.
The official Council funded newspaper East End Life assures its readers there is no problem. It states that the "police have confirmed there is no substance to the allegations." In fact Scotland Yard have launched a formal investigation. East End Life adds cheerfully that the Electoral Commission has "no investigatory powers." They got that bit right. It is a useless Quango costing us £23 million a year but averting its gaze as our proud tradition of free and fair elections comes under attack.