The Null Device

Winning through intimidation

According to this Graun article, George Galloway may not have won his seat (which, after all, he picked up by a slender margin) without the help of gangs of enforcers intimidating the opposition:
Others in the room had voted for the Liberal Democrats. None had cast their vote for Galloway. Rowan Livingstone, who decided to go Green, explained, 'They came to our door and when my flatmate said she would not be voting Respect they shouted at her and called her ignorant.'
Elsewhere in Bethnal Green, student Benjamin Virgo, 34, explained what had happened to him on Tuesday night. 'On the way out to the corner shop to buy milk and bread I passed a couple of young guys. After I'd crossed the road they threw a bottle at me. They became more aggressive, so I reached for my mobile and started to call the police. They followed me into the shop and announced to the other customers and staff that I was a racist. Then, fists in my face, they ordered me to stop my call, reminded me that they knew where I lived and threatened to burn my house down. The police never came. George Galloway is now my MP.'

There are 3 comments on "Winning through intimidation":

Posted by: mark Tue May 10 02:58:41 2005

I'm surprised that such thuggery would have much effect. What's to stop me saying "okay, you bastards, I'll vote for that prick", then walking in and putting a tick next to Lib Dem? Then walking out and saying "there you go, another vote for Galloway cast"?

(Although, I s'pose if Galloway *lost*, his fans might get a bit suspicious, and who knows *who* they'd go after then?)

Posted by: acb Tue May 10 08:16:14 2005

From what I heard, it's opposition campaign workers they went after too. I imagine the other parties would lose some votes if they can't distribute their materials or walk freely through the electorate.

Posted by: acb Tue May 10 09:26:28 2005

Vote-riggers could in theory give voters camera phones/cameras to take into booths and demand photographs of the ballot papers. Of course, the voter could spoil the ballot afterwards, but that'd be a vote the other parties would be denied.

On a tangent: apparently in Britain, ballots aren't perfectly secret, as Alec Muffett (I think) pointed out. Ballot papers have serial numbers which can be correlated with name/address slips. This is not of much use to fringe parties, though could in theory be used by the authorities to keep track of the people who voted BNP or Sinn Fein or whoever. (Or, indeed, Respect.)