back to article Twittering MP escapes with caution

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, has escaped prosecution for alleged electoral fraud. McCarthy has been cautioned by the police after tweeting the results of some postal votes in her constituency before the General Election. It is against the law to reveal votes before elections in case it influences the result. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    An admission of guilt is needed for a caution.

    She has admitted guilt so...

    cat story | s / #allegedelectoralfraud / #guiltyofelectoralfraud / g > new_story

    (You should never accept a caution if you did not commit the offence).

  2. My Alter Ego

    It was so dissapointing to see her keep her seat

    I was really looking forward to sending her a letter saying:

    Labour X; Tory Y; Lib Dem Z. #gameOVER!

    Don't think anyone will be surprised she got off scott free though.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Yet another politician harshly punished...

    Oh wat, no she wasn't.

    Fiddle your expenses, swap homes for profit and to avoid tax, break the law and as long as you're a politician you'll get off with a warning

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah yes, but

      What you are forgetting is that politicians only make "mistakes", and are therefore imuune to prosecution, simply having to apologise for the "mistake".

      On the other hand, under new legislation, if the rest of us make a genuine mistake on our tax form or benefit claim we can be fined for it.

      Now why would you fine people for making a mistake anyway, that is just a tax on stupidity. Blatant and intended fraud, now there is another matter....

  4. It wasnt me

    Oh really ?

    "She said she thought because the information was not official she was allowed to publish it."

    Maybe Id expect that as a defence in the daily star. And if she really thought that she should be sacked as incompetent.

    But the real questions that need answering are:

    1>. Why are candidates (and their reps) allowed to even see any votes before they have all been cast?

    2>. Why are postal votes even opened before the ballot is complete?

    3>. Why do postal votes even exist if we cant verify the eligibility of the voter?

    Until those questions are answered there will simply be no legitimacy to any election as widespread fraud is possible. That fraud played into the hands of labour. Perhaps the LibCons will be keen to do something about it as part of their electoral reform? And hopefully people of Bristol east are content to have elected someone so mind-numbingly stupid as their representative. I asked it before, but is someone with the intellectual capacity of a pot plant really the best person you could have put forward ?


    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      The MP for Bristol South is not much better

      Did anyone else see Dawn Primarolo on the Politics Show the other day? I had to supress the urge to punch my TV, as several choice words popularised by Derek and Clive sprang to mind.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't know about the UK political system...

      ... but I may be able to answer those questions in light of my experience:

      1>. Why are candidates (and their reps) allowed to even see any votes before they have all been cast?

      This is a very special case. In order to ensure that the process is not rigged by one of the parties(Or at least not blatantly rigged...), the counting of the votes is usually public. For postal votes, as they are processed earlier than the main ballot, only officials are allowed to avoid leaks. Obvious fail in this case.

      2>. Why are postal votes even opened before the ballot is completed

      Because it takes time to process them I suppose. Usually, the voter identity is verified when he goes voting, then all votes are processed later. It takes usually 1 to 2 hours to process all the ballot in our average local office.

      In the case of postal votes, the identity must be verified at the same time as the processing. And the verification is a bit more complex...

      3>. Why do postal votes even exist if we cant verify the eligibility of the voter?

      erm... actually, the verification of the identity is why the process is time consuming.

      Well, at least this is how it usually happens in my cheese-eating surrendering-monkeys populated country...

      Anonymous coward - I surrender!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh really ?

      This is guessing or loosely based on fact, rather than hard facts:

      1. all candidates are allowed to moninate a person (possibly persons) to verify that their are no discrepencies with counting or the discarding of "spoilt" votes

      2. the postal vote is counted prior to election day to "reduce costs" and speed up publication of a result.. I would suggest slowing down publication of a vote by 2-3 days would not hurt most democracies, although it may result in less intense media coverage.

      3. in theory postal votes improve the turnout at elections, but they lead to the issues you raised.

      The idea that an MP or a wannabe MP didn't understand the electoral rules suggests that they shouldn't represent the people. They probably shouldn't even represent themselves....

  5. Anonymous Coward

    tweet fraud ok, tweet threat less so!

    So electoral fraud which hits at the heart of any democracy gets a caution and a throw away comment about blowing up some shit hole provincial airport which even the police described as not a threat gets the full prosecution juices flowing.

    You have to wonder if the scales of justice are equally balanced for both the public and the politicians?

    Whilst I am not defending the airport bomb threat idiot it does seem odd that something as critical as electoral fraud during a general election is taken so lightly.

    Trebles all round at the lodge perchance.

  6. Dazed and Confused

    one law for...

    What is the point of having laws if people like this are allowed to just get away with ignoring them.

  7. Rogerborg

    Bristol East?

    I expect that she already knew the results before the write-ins had even been posted in en masse by "Community Leaders".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Postal Votes

    Postal votes should be scrapped in almost all cases anyway. Fine if people genuinely can't get to the polling station, but most postal votes are used by people who don't care enough about the democratic process to get off their arses and vote.

    The same goes for all those idiots who think you should be able to vote online or via SMS.

    All you have to do is visit your local polling station once every five years (every year if you want to vote for local councillors to) it's hardly a big price to pay for being involved in the electoral process. If you can't be arsed to do that you don't really care who your elected represntative is.

    1. Richard Gadsden 1

      Use the Irish system

      In Ireland, they take a ballot box to all the local hospitals and nursing homes in the few days before polling day so everyone can vote. Anyone who is unable to vote for medical reasons can let them know and they will visit you at home. I've seen it - two guys from the local office come around with a stack of paperwork, a ballot box and a pad of ballot papers, hand you one and you mark it and drop it in the ballot box.

      They also have a system where if you're away from home (e.g. working, on holiday), you can book in and visit any polling station in the country, or any consulate / embassy abroad and cast your vote. You have to book in so they get the correct ballot paper in for you.

  9. Tony Barnes
    Thumb Down

    Politician breaks law, no charge brought


  10. Anonymous Coward

    "Vote for Stupid"....

    ... and she still got in.

    "She said she thought because the information was not official she was allowed to publish it."

    She's an MP she should know about things like this - so either she is incompetent or, heaven forbid, she's lying.

  11. yoinkster


    One rule for them ...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    some use

    should have stuck her in prison - least we'd have got some value from her then (i.e. something to talk about down the pub)

  13. DP 1


    I'm in her constituency and I really wish she'd lost her seat - she broke the law, and we expect her to represent us and our views in Westminster? Bristol East is such a Labour strong-hold that even if she was hoisted out and there was a local election another Labour candidate would get in, but at least the replacement candidate would have some credibility intact as their misdeeds wouldn't be public yet.

  14. James 5


    .. aren't all prospective parliamentary, local government etc. candidates given a series of examinations - on law, science, finance, art & culture, international relations, diplomacy, farm management, running small businesses, societies, etc. etc. If they fail even one then they're no longer eligible for election for a minimum of 5 years.

    In this way we may just get people with a modicum of common sense and the depth or experience and knowledge that the job requires - rather than these idiots that haven't got the common sense of a gnat! (I'm probably doing gnats a disservice here - but you know what I mean!).

  15. DrXym Silver badge

    If she tweeted she was ahead in the postal vote...

    ... wouldn't it actually put her at a disadvantage to say it out loud? After all, fence sitters or people who were opposed to here might be more determined to vote if they thought she was ahead on the count. Anyway silly her she got off lightly.

    1. Yag


      The article clearly imply that she doesn't seems very bright...

  16. deshepherd

    postal votes

    1>. Why are candidates (and their reps) allowed to even see any votes before they have all been cast?

    Technically the postal votes they saw already had been cast. Candidates/agents get to see/monitor the counting of all votes to enable the process to be considered fair - so if postal votes start to be counted early then they need to be able to observe this.

    2>. Why are postal votes even opened before the ballot is complete?

    Becuase in the UK we still have this idea that we want the election to be determined as soon as possible - we expect to know the new PM on the next day and this time having to wait 4 or 5 days was seen to be quite a problem - there were real concerns over how markets might react when there was no decision by monday morning.

    3>. Why do postal votes even exist if we cant verify the eligibility of the voter?

    Postal votes have always existed and the verification techniques now, I think, are a lot more robust than they used to be (e.g. a signature that can be matched to the application is required). They are much more widespread now because it was seen as a way to get many more people voting. N.b. "in person" votes used to be pretty insecure - just turn up at 8am at a poling station with a name and address from the electoral roll and you'd get a ballot with no need to prove identity - not sure if its still the same as I've voted by post for the last several years!

    Again, because we want the result "quickly" we need to have a system that allows postal votes to be "verified" quickly ... there is provision to challenge a result later in the courts but that only overturns a result at a later date.

    The alternative is exemplified by an exchange during the 2000 US election between a BBC reporter and a UK representative of one of the US parties. As the result became so close in Florida (and before the "hanging chad" issue had been raised) the US person commented that the result might have to wait until the "absentee ballots" were certified - the BBC person asked how long that would take clearly expecting an answer along the lines of "by lunchtime" and was stunned to be told "in 21 days time" ... because under Florida election law the parties had 21 days to challenge any postal votes and the result was not finalised until that time was over - normally the number of postal votes would be less than the victory margin so it wasn't an issue but in this case it was (and, I think , this also contributed to the courts ruling out the hanging chad debate on the basis that a decision had to be ratified after 21 days).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fingerprints ? DNA?...

    If you get a police caution for this offence do the police take your fingerprints and DNA?

    I know that the police can (and do) take your fingerprints/DNA for relatively minor offences when you get cautioned, so I cannot see why a caution for electoral fraud wouldn't be dealt with in the same way? Does anyone here have the definitive answer to my query?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fingerprints ? DNA?... part 2

      I've put an FOI request in to the Avon and Somerset Police...

      "Could you please furnish me with figures for the number of persons

      who have had their fingerprints and/or DNA samples taken at any

      police station in Bristol on October 25th 2010 after receiving a

      caution for an offence under the Representation of the People Act


  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CRB Check?

    Do you need a CRB check to become an MP?

    If you want to work with kids you are subject to a check and any record of crimes connected with kids, even a caution, sometimes just an accusation and you will be barred from working with kids.

    So if an MP has been cautioned for electoral fraud that should mean that person should be barred from public office. They made the rules on CRB checks they should have to abide by them.

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