Is this why there’ll be no general election night in Newcastle?

Is this why there’ll be no general election night in Newcastle?

Commons Library

Why the vast difference in rates?

The growing “Keep General Election” night campaign has prompted an excuse from Newcastle upon Tyne about the difficulties they have because of their unusually high number of postal votes. I thought I would check the city’s figures and wow what a surprise. Look at those numbers above compared with the national average.

The last general election in 2005 was the first one where the Labour government’s new postal voting arrangements were in place and the tables above show the extent of the take-up and usage. The first shows the top five seats out of 646 seats for postal votes as a percentage of the electorate – the second the proportion of postal votes that were cast compared with the overall number of votes.

Now you would have thought that without the intervention of the party machines that rates would be broadly in the same range throughout the UK – the top would be, perhaps, twice the national average. But look at the disparities in the tables.

The MPs for these constituencies include two current cabinet ministers, the chief whip and the foreign secretary as well as a former Tory chancellor and current member of the shadow cabinet.

The new “anyone can have a postal vote” regime has been attacked by the Electoral Commission and the courts because it increases the likelihood of fraud – and certainly all parties have misused the system. Yet the government has kept the rules in place.

Meanwhile there is more news of postal vote abuse.

This should be abolished before the general election. Rather than putting all the effort into keeping election night counts surely the campaign focus for all who want clean and fair elections should be the postal voting rules.

Mike Smithson

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