"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Saturday, April 23, 2005

PM has WMD problem all over again

Ballot fraud is Not a big problem says Tony Blair

Simon McGee Political Editor : Yorkshire Post 23/4/2005

TONY Blair has dismissed widespread criticism over postal ballot security as "hugely exaggerated".

And the Prime Minister refused to accept any need for a review into the controversial voting method following the election.
Applications for postal votes in this election have rocketed across Yorkshire. In Birmingham councillors were convicted of ballot-rigging, and in Bradford investigations are continuing into claims that in last year's all-postal local elections votes were "harvested" by candidates or party workers.

Just to remind you what you are voting for....


The only thing unusual about the hail of bullets that struck the car of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena in Baghdad, was that this time the US said sorry. Since the start of the invasion, occupation forces have wiped out numerous carloads of Iraqis.

This little girl was splashed with the blood of her parents as they were shot while driving home. Where is she now? Who knows? The killers are immunised from prosecution.

"Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies,in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists,the hopes of its children."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

Car bomb rocks mosque in Baghdad

A car bomb has exploded outside a Shia mosque in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 20.

The blast happened during Friday prayers at the al-Subeih mosque in the eastern New Baghdad district.

Friday 23rd April 10. am UK Click on Title for BBC live video link

Friday, April 22, 2005

PR will solve increasing Voting Fraud Problem says Gubment

Post voting fraud will get worse, says police chief
By Andrew Sparrow, Political Correspondent Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 22/04/2005)

Postal voting fraud will get worse as offenders realise how easy it is to get away with it, a senior police officer has warned.

Chief Supt Dave Murray, of Thames Valley Police, said fraudsters would develop "a feeling of untouchability" because the law made it so hard for them to be successfully prosecuted.

Also more on Birmingham Lib Dem challenge to rule election illegal in High Court.

Publicity drive to warn of postal vote fraud dangers

A NATIONWIDE publicity campaign warning people of the risks of postal voting fraud is to be launched early next week, the Government announced last night.

Advertisements in national and regional newspapers will tell the 6.5 million people due to vote by post how to do so “safely and securely”. They are expected to advise the public not to hand their completed postal ballot papers to party activists or candidates, in order to cut potential fraud.

Left Click Headlines for Link to story

198% rise in postal votes in Hornsey & Wood Green

21 April 2005 HORNSEY and Wood Green in London constituency has seen a sharp rise in postal vote applications as more voters claim they want to vote from home.

Applications have risen from 2,063 at the 2001 General Election to 6,141 this year - a 198 per cent rise - according to latest figures.


Telegraph report / Councillors lose appeal

'Vote rigging' councillor loses court battle(Filed: 15/04/2005) Daily Telegraph

A Labour Party councillor accused of being involved in a "vote-rigging factory"has lost his High Court bid to challenge a decision to remove him from office.

A judge ruled that Muhammad Afzal did not have an arguable case and the decision made against him, by the Election Court, was "unimpeachable".

The ruling also affects two other Birmingham councillors from the Aston ward - Mohammed Islam and Mohammed Kazi - who were also removed from office and named as "interested parties" in today's challenge.

Now the Socialist Worker have unearthed another story... see pic

But now it’s getting worse. Labour is asking which party you are supporting at the same time as asking if you want a postal vote. A Labour leaflet in Hackney, east London, has a form where you are asked to tick a box to say you would like a postal vote.

The next box is to register as a Labour supporter, and the next two boxes ask which party you most closely identify with and which you are going to vote for on 5 May.

The form is then supposed to be returned to 88 Buckingham Road, London N1. According to Hackney council’s website this is a property owned by James Cannon. He is a Labour councillor and the agent for Labour’s Meg Hillier, who is standing for the seat of Hackney South.

Daily Telegraph reports OSCE Election help today 22nd April

Daily Telegraph doesn't like the OSCE coming...

"There is another consideration. We are likely to have the Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights here to monitor this general election.

How humiliating that is for a country that has supposed it was a model for those aspiring to parliamentary democracy."

The Times reported last week..."Last week the OSCE announced that it would be sending a 10-strong team to Britain to monitor the election for a week before polling day. It is believed to be the first time that a British general election will be subject to formal international monitoring."

In this context it is interesting to view the Welsh Office report of 16 April, 2003


International election advisers are visiting Wales next week as part of an assessment mission which is looking at May’s elections to the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly.

Officials from the Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights will hold discussions with a wide range of individuals involved in the electoral process. Meetings are planned with the Electoral Commission, electoral administrators, and media figures, as well as candidates and other representatives of political parties. There will also be a visit to the Assembly Chamber in Cardiff Bay.

They will be in Wales on Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, before moving on to Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Welcoming the visit, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain (the man with the tan from the can)said:

"The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights plays a key role in promoting the principles of democracy, not only within the territories of its own participating states but also in other parts of the world where new democratic structures are being developed.

"I very much hope that their assessment mission will result in good practices from Wales being adopted in other democracies. At the same time, we will be happy to look closely at any suggestions they may have for enhancing our own arrangements."

Note - A granny guilty of supplying cannabis is standing for the Legalise Cannabis Party against Leader of the Commons Peter Hain in Wales. Mr Hain in his student days never of course consumed any of the vile weed...

Observers called in over post votes

Observers called in over post votes

By Jason Beattie Political Correspondent, Evening Standard
15 April 2005

The invitation to the OSCE
Democratic Institutions and Human Rights coincides with new evidence that applications for postal votes have risen by more than 500 per cent in some key marginal seats.

The sharp increase comes despite fears that the postal voting system is open to vote-rigging. A survey found in Brent East, where the Liberal Democrats are defending their byelection gain from Labour, applications rose from 414 in 2001 to 2,528 this year - a jump of 511 per cent.

Another crucial marginal, Hornsey and Wood Green, has seen applications leap by nearly 200 per cent, while in Guildford the number applying for a postal vote has soared by 11,000 since 2001. There has also been a massive increase in areas with a history of fraud such as Birmingham and Blackburn.

Applications for postal votes in Birmingham, where six Labour councillors were found guilty of ballot-rigging, have jumped from 16,000 to 53,000. In Blackburn they have risen from 7,603 to 20,351.

The surge in applications will heighten fears the election will be tainted by widespread fraud.

The Crown Prosecution Service is already investigating 39 cases of alleged vote-rigging across the UK.

Concerns about the safety of the ballot box appear to have prompted the Government to invite the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to monitor the last week of the campaign.

"We don't investigate and we would not micromanage the police, but postal voting will be looked at if we accept," a spokesman for the Warsaw-based organisation told The Times. The Electoral Reform Society said the increase in applications carried the risk of an increase in fraud. "There has been a massive increase since 2001 and this raises both problems of potential fraud and logistical problems for election office staff," a spokesman said.

Despite doubts, all three main parties are continuing to flout election guidelines that there should be no "third party involvement" in the application system. Labour has been including postal vote application forms with a letter from Tony Blair sent to electors.

Applicants are invited to return the form by Freepost to Labour's HQ. The Conservatives have sent out similar forms asking them to be returned to a party office in Dartford.
Although not illegal, such practices fly in the face of recent guidance which says all forms should be sent directly to the local registration office. (see First Post re Electoral reform Society)

In Tower Hamlets - which includes Bethnal Green and Bow where Oona King is under threat from George Galloway - the number of postal vote applications has risen by 242 per cent from 5,000 in 2001 to 12,120 so far this year.

It is a similar picture in Bexley where there has been a 390 per cent increase in applications. Orpington, where the Tories are defending a 269 majority over the Liberal Democrats, has seen the number applying for a postal vote almost treble since 2001.

Outside Greater London, Braintree, where Labour is defending a majority of 358, applications have leapt from 3,000 to 10,000. And in Thanet South, another Tory target, applications have risen by 219 per cent.

Muhammed Hussain, 61, from Logwood Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud local elections in May 2002.

He won a 685 majority in the elections for Bastwell ward on Blackburn Council. He is now in prison.

The Oldham Riots Ritchie Report re Voter Fraud

The Ritchie Report

A report called The Ritchie Report was written to research why there were riots in Oldham which included comments as follows about elections and electoral irregularities.:

Electoral Irregularities

11.38 One issue which surprised the Panel was the discovery that in recent years there had been an number of irregularities in the electoral process in Oldman, focussed on certain inner city wards. The worst example appears to have been the May 2000 local elections which resulted in a Police investigation and a number of prosecutions.

The issue has been raised with us as a source of tension and concern within the Borough and we therefore felt it necessary to look into it as potentially within our terms of reference.

Birmingham City Council respond to Vote Fraud


Interim Elections Team

The interim elections team which will oversee voting for the forthcoming General Election are:

Nigel Buttler, recently retired Elections Officer from Oxfordshire County Council and the Vale of White Horse District Council, who will lead the Elections Office and work full-time on putting in place technical preparations for the elections.

Nigel will be supported by John Turner, former Returning Officer for Norwich City Council, who will lead on staff training and Stewart Dobson, former Acting Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council, who has also recently retired as Chief Executive at Millennium Point and Thinktank, and who will provide general experience of elections in Birmingham.

Ex-Chief Superintendent Phil Ellis, formerly Head of Professional Standards Unit at West Midlands Police will give advice on maintaining the integrity of the vote and consider any specific allegations of postal vote fraud.


Preventing and tackling election fraud

Press release - Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police have agreed a joint protocol aimed at preventing and tackling election fraud.

Ref 7430 Contact Carol Austin 0121 303 2555 Issued 13th April 2005-04-22

The protocol was welcomed at a meeting yesterday of party agents who all agreed to support the actions being taken and to follow the recommendations made by the Electoral Commission.

Chief Executive and Returning Officer for Birmingham, Lin Homer, said ‘We want people in Birmingham to exercise their vote confidently and properly. We welcome the support of both the police and all the political parties in ensuring that this election is conducted fairly and in accordance with the rules.’

Assistant Chief Constable (Crime) Stuart Hyde said "I am very pleased with the level of support and co-operation shown by everyone concerned to ensure no fraud takes place. We are working closely with the acting returning officer and are satisfied we have done everything possible to outline how we can assist.

"We have provided and continue to provide support for the acting returning officer and I am grateful to all parties for being open and showing commitment to reducing fraud."

The City Council has undertaken a number of steps in relation to postal voting following the findings of the Elections Commissioner, Richard Mawrey QC, last week. The Council has written to all 53000 existing postal voters asking them if they wish to be removed from this list or wish their vote to go to a new address. All postal vote applications will also be acknowledged. For this election anyone can apply for a postal vote up to Tuesday 26 April and Presiding Officers will record details of postal voters who turn up to vote in person.

The City council will be working closely with the police and any allegations of electoral fraud will be taken seriously and investigated fully. The City Council has advised all political parties not to handle postal votes and is providing independent assistance to the public with completion of documents.

A helpline is also being set up for fraud allegations. The Electoral Commission’s guidelines and the Birmingham guidance have been issued to all political parties.

Respect John Rees writes to Lin Homer

Full text of John Rees' letter to Birmingham returning Oficer Lin Homer
Dear Lin Homer,

It has been brought to my attention by constituents of Hodge Hill that the retiring Labour MP, Terry Davis, has sent postal vote application forms to voters in the constituency along with the letter announcing that he is standing down as MP for Hodge Hill. This letter arrived on the same day that the writ was moved declaring that the by-election was to be held on the 15th July 2004.

You will be aware that there are two cases alleging electoral fraud which involve postal voting before the High Court as a result of the June 10th council elections in Birmingham.

Naturally I am concerned that neither the law nor the established custom and practice in the use of postal voting has been breached in this case. I am alarmed at press reports that the number of applications for postal votes has increased from 500 in previous elections in this constituency to 5,000 for this election.

It seems to me that postal votes are intended for the use of those who are either too ill or infirm to go to a polling station or those who are away from the constituency on polling day. Is there any preceden

Perhaps you could set my mind at rest on the following key issues:

1. Is it legal for the sitting MP to use fore-knowledge of the date on which an election will be called to send postal vote application forms to constituents before the date of the election has been made public?

2. Is is legal to distribute such forms to voters who have not requested them from the elections office?

3. Is it legal for a political party to distribute such forms rather than the elections office?

4. What proceedures are in place to ensure that the postal vote system is not abused?

I would appreciate a quick response on these matters as they obviously have a direct relevance to the fairness of the poll on the 15 July.

Yours faithfully,

John Rees, Respect Coalition prospective Parliamentary candidate for Hodge Hill

Birmingham returning officer suspended over fraud.

Birmingham returning officer suspended over fraud.

April 13, 2005

Birmingham returning officer suspended over fraud. Respect demands end to postal vote.

In an amazing development John Owen, the Birmingham returning officer, has been suspended after a crate of postal votes from last June's local elections was discovered by police in his office.

Respect national secretary John Rees, who was candidate in Birmingham the euro-elections also held in June, said: 'This shows beyond all doubt that this system of voting cannot be trusted. Postal voting should be suspended in the general election. It is an entirely corruptible system. We are preparing a legal challenge to the use of the postal vote.'

John Owen was suspended last night after the discovery of a hidden box containing an estimated 1,000 uncounted postal votes from the 2004 local authority elections.

The votes, in sealed envelopes, were found during a raid by the head of the West Midlands fraud squad, the council chief executive and chief legal officer.

BBC reports the Birmingham Fraud

In elections on June 10th 2004 six Labour councillors were elected in Birmingham which involved over 1,500 fraudulently cast votes.

The results have been declared void and the polls in two wards must be rerun.
"The system is wide open to fraud and any would-be political fraudster knows that,"…. Judge Mawrey said evidence of "massive, systematic and organised fraud. The deputy high court judge said the system was "hopelessly insecure" and expressed regret that recent warnings about the failings had been dismissed by the government as "scaremongering".

He criticised the government's insistence that the current postal voting system was working, adding: "Anybody who has sat through the case I have just tried and listened to evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic would find this statement surprising."

Mr Mawrey had heard petitions lodged against six Labour councillors, who all strenuously deny that they abused the postal ballot system.

The first petition was brought by the People's Justice Party (PJP) against three representatives of the Bordesley Green ward, Shafaq Ahmed, Shah Jahan and Ayaz Khan.
The second petition was raised by Liberal Democrat supporters against three Aston representatives, Mohammed Islam, Muhammed Afzal and Mohammed Kazi.

Unsealed ballots

During the Electoral Court hearings, (The first for many years) which were held at the Birmingham and Midland Institute yook 4 weeks, Judge Mawrey heard how the trio were caught operating a "vote-rigging factory".

The police described how they found Mr Islam, Mr Afzal and Mr Kazi handling unsealed postal ballots in a deserted warehouse in the city at night.

The petitioners also accused the city's returning officer and chief executive Lin Homer of failing to discharge her duties in accordance with electoral law.

Judge Mawrey said that Ms Homer "threw the rule book out of the window" to deal with overwhelming numbers of postal vote application forms received.

West Midlands Police told BBC News that they were currently not pursuing a criminal inquiry.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What caused the interest


4th April 2005
The Electoral Reform Society believes that the judgement issued today by Richard Mawrey QC demands urgent action to protect and maintain confidence in our electoral system.

However, we recognise that legislative changes cannot take place before the general election and there will rightly be concern at the potential for fraud in the run up to and on May 5th. In order to prevent fraud in the general election and local council elections taking place this year we believe that the following action is necessary:

· all parties must commit themselves to following both the letter and spirit of the Electoral Commission's guidelines issued last week;

· the Government should give consideration to providing special funds to allow electoral registration officers, particularly in Birmingham, to write to all those currently on the postal voters lists reminding them that they have registered for a postal vote, offering them the option to cancel it and reminding them of the rules regarding privacy and security. Whether or not letters are sent, efforts should be made to notify electors using local media and in a language that can be understood by the voter;

· until the current law is changed as we have detailed above, returning officers should undertake checks on significant samples of applications for postal votes to the best of their abilities within the strictures of the current law;

· a hotline number should be established in co-operation with the police so that anyone with any concerns about fraud at this election can report those fears;

· guidance and training must be given to all police forces to ensure that they can properly investigate allegations of electoral fraud;

· all postal votes issued during the general election must be sent out with a clear warning about the requirement for secrecy and a reminder that the voter should not give their vote to any other person for any reason. This advice should be sent out in English and in any other languages widely spoken in the area.

(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish