Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ealing Southall: Cameron's Tories in Bloggergate

The Political Betting story on an unlikely Sedgefield upset has become a bit of a scrapbook for comments on both by-elections. Just after 6pm "Baskerville" posted a link with the annotation: "Isaby has intelligence from the front line - make of it what you will…" It's the Little and Large blog at The Daily Telegraph. (Now taken down on legal advice)

Labour blogger Political Penguin picked this up too, wisely screen grabbed the page (below, click etc), and analysed the possible election offences being described.

The numbers blurred on the grab have appeared several times (in permutations) in the comments at Political Betting. There's been an hour or so of "don't panic" etc and attempts to advise the blogger in chief there to take them down. Therre is in fact a police investigation now going on. According to Sky News, and later BBC Web/News 24.

Having been a teller at various postal and other vote countings I think they'd have to be getting way, way too much help from the staff to have numbers with any sort of confidence.

I must therefore suggest that whether or not the high Tory Isaby and/or his informants really have the real numbers they have mostly made the published numbers up.

If that is so Isaby has described and impersonated an electoral offence. But none may have been committed in the real world. Which will be bang to rights according to comments. Apart that is from There will certainly be the very serious matter of wasting police time.

Sadly telling porkies in by-elections, even on blogs, is not much of an offence to go at.

Here are a couple of the comment posts:

9. Tressage I don’t know on what basis but John Loony thought 3000 odd would have been cast in ES ( he had the figure for numbers applied for which was obviously a bit higher). If the Telegraph blogger is right they split Lab ** Con ** LD *.
by blue moon July 18th, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Another version said *.* for LD. And then there was this:

27. 9. Sorry to spoil the party but if that blogger is right about the postal votes then a bet on the Lib Dems should be in order. Their postal vote machine will have been poor beside the other two, especially Labour. So in that range is interesting. Also it suggests 17% others.
To be honest I do not believe a word of it, and feel that more fool anyone who does.
by dave (s) July 18th, 2007 at 7:47 pm

UPDATE: I would also predict that in Ealing Southall many "postal voters" will have hung on to their "betting slips" until the last minute and will be taking part in the walk up after the last minute hits, denials and scams.


Unity said...

Isaby's in the shit even if the figures are bullshit.

The scope of the test for the offence includes 'reasonable belief', so even if he made the numbers up, if a court considers that reasonable believe might believe that his story was kosher then an offence has been committed even if the information turns out to be false.

As Isaby write for the Torygraph and trade on being a Tory insider, the reasonable belief test is hardly going to be a tough on to make.

Oh, and the police are investigating according to the Beeb.

Unity said...

I'd take the numbers out the comments as well, Chris, just to be on the safe side as the basis of the offence that Isaby's being investigated for is one of undue influence.

Chris Paul said...

Will do ... though I'm not trying to influence anyone and I don't believe the figures are true and I have said so.

Anonymous said...

Story emerging ( that someone called Mr Rai has committed suicide. If this is Dr Rai one of the candidates, do the rules allow the election to carry on.

Anonymous said...

At this stage of the postal voting, no votes would actually have been counted; it's an educated guess at best, and a pretty crooked one to make public.

Chris Paul said...

Correct anonymous. The ballot slips would have been counted FACE UP and skillful tellers - remembering there are three separate openings - ought to be able to sample reasonably well. In 2005 GE four of us did all the key boxes in an eight ward, 35 polling station situation. With a fair degree of accuracy. Though it was a weigh in!

The poor NF guy's face was a picture. As he was an idiot he didn't see a single one of his votes during the initial ballot count.

It will be a bit of a guess if it is a real figure. But the strength of the guess depends on how good the tallying was as the ballots were counted.

Chris Paul said...

PS To Unity mainly. The Lib Dem cheeky campaign books do refer to this kind of activity and they suggest as I recall various weasel words and ways of indicating what you know while getting away with it.

But Isaby with his personalised plates and all hasn't even got the smarts to call this a straw poll or something he feels in his waters or whatever the other ways of obfuscating are.