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  • Time to kill postal voting too


    by Sunny
    22nd May, 2008 at 3:48 am    

    Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob says the way to encourage more ethnic minority women into politics is by killing off postal voting.

    Coun Yaqoob said: “A particular issue I want to raise is postal voting on demand. I want to call for it to be scrapped. “Thousands of Asian women have been denied secret ballots and thousands of ballots have been stolen.”

    She said she had experienced pressure from within the Asian community not to stand as a councillor. “There were people saying it wasn’t the job of a woman to be doing this,” she added.

    But she had experienced no overt racism when she stood as a councillor, she said. “There are misconceptions. People assume you are only interested in representing part of the community and you have to tell them you want to represent the whole community.”

    I agree with her on killing off postal voting. It probably won’t encourage more women into politics, but it will certainly get rid of some dodgy councillors and politicians in Asian areas who are helped by the biraderi (brotherhood) system. It’ll help Salma, put it that way.

    And much as her politics on Muslim issues annoys me, I’d rather Salma Yaqoob go further up the political system. She is a bit of a leftie and a feminist herself, even if somewhat half-heartedly. But first she’ll have to extract herself from the train-wreck that is Respect and join the Libdems or Labour.

    Go on Salma, stop wasting everyone’s time, bite the bullet, and join a serious political party. You’ve already joined that Labour commission. You’ve got less than two years. Just do it.


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    Filed in: Current affairs,Religion






    22 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs


    1. Katy Newton — on 22nd May, 2008 at 7:44 am  

      I think you might have forgotten about the many disabled and elderly people who’d be effectively disenfranchised if postal voting was abolished.

    2. marvin — on 22nd May, 2008 at 8:04 am  

      Indeed Katy, also the rural votes where it may be difficult or lengthy to get to a polling station. Perhaps postal votes should be allowed, in such circumstances, but not for able bodied people living near to polling stations.

      Also the case needs to be made on how easy it appears to commit fraud through postal voting.

    3. MaidMarian — on 22nd May, 2008 at 9:05 am  

      I like my postal vote! And generally speaking, if Salma says it, it’s wrong.

      It is sad that certain sections of society hold democracy in such contempt that they do this.

    4. zaffer — on 22nd May, 2008 at 9:50 am  

      I think to kill off postal voting is a bit of a media knee jerk reaction. I do think more needs to be done to ensure fraud doesn’t take place but we should be looking at more innovatives ideas to engage the electorate (phone texting?). And i wholly agree with Katy’s point about accessability issues.

    5. The Common Humanist — on 22nd May, 2008 at 10:10 am  

      So Postal voting should go because too many Asian men are still living in the 19th century?

      I don’t think so, we just need them to grow up and for a better postal voting system. Accessibility matters.

      Salma - interesting lady, shame about siding with the stalinist shirker Galloway - that doesn’t say much about her taste/judgement but people learn and develop but I agree she needs to join a proper party
      and move away from the jihadi fetishists of the national socialists, sorry, Respect. Always get those mixed up.

    6. Joe Otten — on 22nd May, 2008 at 10:45 am  

      Whats with telling Yaqoob what party to join? Perhaps she supports all that Respect bonkers. Many capable politicians have had just as crazy values over the years.

      There are many political POVs that don’t have a “serious” party representing them. A tragedy perhaps, but not a good reason to join the enemy. Whatever happened to sticking up for what you believe in?

      As for postal voting, she has a point, and SMS would be worse. It would suck for other people to abolish it, but that is no reason to pretend she isn’t right.

      Ideally, casual postal voting could be replaced by early voting at any Post Office. The totally housebound would have to be visited, but this could be done over a couple of weeks before polling day.

    7. Derius — on 22nd May, 2008 at 12:56 pm  

      Postal voting should go, with the only exception being extended to people who cannot reach polling stations due to physical disability, hence covering off the very valid point in #1.

      Postal voting was never practiced to the extent it is now until recently, so opposing it is not a case of going against a long standing common tradition.

      And it unlikely that the sort of people who commit voting fraud are going to play fair unless forced to.

    8. Dave Cole — on 22nd May, 2008 at 1:14 pm  

      Sorry to be pedantic, Derius, but if you’re going to say that only disabled people should have postal votes, you shouldn’t specify just the physically disabled and you shouldn’t assume that all people who can’t be sure, because of disability or long-term illness, that they’ll be able to go to the polling booth on the day are registered as disabled.

      There are lots of other good reasons, though, why postal voting should be allowed, including people who work away from home and people who, for work or other commitments, simply cannot make the polling station on a given day.

      The principle, though, is not postal voting per se so much as moving away from their being one means of voting. I tend to agree with Joe Otten - effectively having the polls open longer at Post Offices or town halls. I believe they use this system in Australia because of the vast size of the country, but it has been effective in making voting easier.

      The question of fraud has to be weighed up against the benefits of the increased accessibility afforded by postal voting. If it is found that the level of fraud is too great, then other means of voting could be tried. I suspect that some of the remoter parts of the UK, like the Highlands, might welcome the extended voting system.

      I think it’s unlikely, though, that postal voting will go. Lots of campaigners and party workers use it so that they can campaign all day when the election comes!

    9. zaffer — on 22nd May, 2008 at 1:26 pm  

      To be honest, its up our regulatory bodies to safeguard the electoral process so if we can increase voter registration and turnout in both local and national elections, lets try to be innovative and take risks.

    10. Mangles — on 22nd May, 2008 at 1:53 pm  

      Funny really how some issues are Asian and others apply just to the Muslim community. For a party that has really played to the Muslim vote, why beat around the bush and say that killing off postal voting is a means to getting ‘Asian’ women involved.

      There are many good Asian women councillor’s across the country. They haven’t been stopped by postal voting (though its governance remains a real headache).

      And yes, I agree there is real case for parity of Asian Males/females in politics. That said, there is a real case for more white women coming into politics also, as well as more good Asian and black politicians full stop.

      I also don’t think the issue that Salma is raising is one that applies solely to women. Men are just as susceptible to the pressures of biradri/clan in particular communities. So, yes need for an intelligent debate, but one in which there is clear honesty about who is missing out or whose vote is being hijacked.

    11. Ashik — on 22nd May, 2008 at 1:53 pm  

      What’s postal voting got to do with empowering Asian women in politics? There are many Asian women involved in politics at local and national level. For example, Rushnara Ali was recently nominated as Labour representative for BG&B.

      Yacoub is surrounded by Islamist activists and she courts that sort of vote, so she should be ready for the negative image of a political activist women many Islamists hold to. We don’t want her in Labour. She is not a ‘big idea’ sort of person.

    12. Sunny — on 22nd May, 2008 at 2:48 pm  

      Good point Katy! Whoops…

      Joe
      Whatever happened to sticking up for what you believe in?

      What does Respect believe in exactly?? Anyway, Salma is a political animal. And she’s ambitious. I doubt she’ll stay with the train-wreck that is Respect for long. I always thought it was a stupid idea anyway.

      As for joining serious parties… well I always say that if you want to get something done, you have to do a deal with the devil sometimes. Otherwise all you can do is sit on the sidelines and complain.

    13. The Common Humanist — on 22nd May, 2008 at 3:32 pm  

      “Otherwise all you can do is sit on the sidelines and complain”

      But thats what the Hard Left/Hard Right/Most Journalists do/Love as its far easier then actually trying to do stuff in the world!

      The Common ‘Melanie Phillips is the Worst Commentator in the World’ Humanist

    14. Derius — on 22nd May, 2008 at 4:40 pm  

      Dave,

      Extending the postal voting option to all people who are disabled, as you suggest, and not just the physically disabled, is a fair point.

      The final goal should be to make voting as accessible as possible, while reducing voting fraud as much as possible. It is my belief that what I proposed would strike a better balance on that than what he have at the moment, and it would also be better than stopping postal voting in its entirety (due to the point made in #1).

    15. douglas clark — on 22nd May, 2008 at 6:41 pm  

      Sunny,

      I thought Joe Otten made a good point,

      Ideally, casual postal voting could be replaced by early voting at any Post Office. The totally housebound would have to be visited, but this could be done over a couple of weeks before polling day.

      The details need to be worked out, but a secret vote would be better than a captive vote, would it not?

      It seems to me that democracy for Muslim women ought to be independent of the views of Muslim men. That they should be free to vote as they see it? And that we should do what we need to to make that possible?

      You’ll recall my polemic when I said that Muslim women ought to take the initiative?

      Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Muslim men rule!

    16. A Councillor writes — on 22nd May, 2008 at 7:05 pm  

      Au contraire, Salma has been courted heavily by the Birmingham Labour party and despite protestations spent some time in talks with them. However, the glittering prize she wants (a parliamentary seat) is not possible in this cycle for her in Birmingham.

      Birmingham Liberal Democrats probably wouldn’t have her to be honest.

      I understand what she’s saying about postal votes, but Birmingham Respect work the biraderi/mosque vote very hard. Her ward has the largest number of postal votes in Birmingham and I understand that a fair percentage of that “box” goes to Respect.

      As for postal voting, it should be made more secure, the current system is a slight improvement, but the fraudsters have worked out the way around it already.

      However, if we want to get people to vote in person, we need to clear up the mess outside polling stations, I understand that outside some polling stations in Sparkbrook and Springfield there were up to 50 activists from Labour and Respect trying to influence people, something that many people find intimidating.

      Perhaps the Irish system where the mobile ballot box visits the elderly and the infirm on polling day (and the days before).

    17. Leon — on 22nd May, 2008 at 9:15 pm  

      Could Salma join the Labour party and stay elected (given her anti war/Labour platform)? Would they even want her (I stood there once with Salma and a well known Labour party member in Brum having harsh words with each other, there’s no love lost I can tell you)?

    18. A Councillor writes — on 22nd May, 2008 at 11:07 pm  

      Oh trust me, it’s one big love fest in the Council Chamber between Salma (when she’s there) and the Labour councillors. It’s cooled off a bit, when she realised that it was possibly a bit silly to vote with them all the time.

      Could she stay elected, well, I suspect she’s got a reasonable personal vote and she’d get quite a lot of the Labour vote.

      However, what she obviously wants is to be an MP, unfortunately, she didn’t really do her sums before deciding on Birmingham, Hall Green.

    19. Sunny — on 22nd May, 2008 at 11:13 pm  

      Could Salma join the Labour party and stay elected (given her anti war/Labour platform)? Would they even want her (I stood there once with Salma and a well known Labour party member in Brum having harsh words with each other, there’s no love lost I can tell you)?

      Mate, it’s politics, anything can happen. I see it happening eventually. Salma is very ambitious. Too bad Ken got elected out, he was the best hope she had in the meantime for continued coverage.

    20. A Councillor writes — on 23rd May, 2008 at 10:35 am  

      Very ambitious doesn’t even come close to it.

      However, some of her constitutents are wondering if they have elected the councillor for Sparkbrook or the councillor for Media Central.

    21. Leon — on 23rd May, 2008 at 12:40 pm  

      Well it seems things have drastically changed in Birmingham!

      Mate, it’s politics, anything can happen. I see it happening eventually.

      How long is eventually?

      However, some of her constitutents are wondering if they have elected the councillor for Sparkbrook or the councillor for Media Central.

      Got any juicy anecdotes to back that up? :D

    22. Katy Newton — on 25th May, 2008 at 5:29 pm  

      I’m FULL of the good points.

      In fairness, the article you linked to does say “postal voting on demand” rather than “postal voting” full stop. I’m just a bit uncomfortable about how that would be enforced, really. I mean, there are plenty of people who are not disabled per se but would still have trouble getting to a polling booth - e.g. pensioners who can’t drive because of their failing eyesight, especially in rural areas.

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