Labour intimidation in Derby

Elections are often tense, fraught and somewhat hectic, but in Derby yesterday problems of a rather worrying sort arose.  My Press Officer Neelam Cartmell stood as a Conservative candidate in the Abbey ward of Derby City, and came across problems when arriving to inspect the polling stations. The local Labour Party and the LibDems had parked vans displaying their respective posters immediately outside one of the main polling stations on Carlton Road in Abbey. Once voters had approached the entrance to the polling station and the vans, they had to run the gauntlet of activists who had pitched up on the grass verge and were speaking to voters as they made their way to vote.

The men involved were mostly of South Asian appearance, and addressed ethnic minority voters in what seemed to be South Asian languages.  A number of voters felt that they had been intimidated, and reported that they had been “told how to vote”.  The Labour candidate for Normanton ward, eventually successful, was Jangir Khan.  He said “the tension was because people were feeling “passionate” about the local election”.  Police were called to the polling station, and similar problems were reported at a second polling station.  It is of course illegal for party workers and activists to pressure voters at a polling station, especially when this is done in a threatening and intimidating manner.

This behaviour caused particular concern because Abbey was the scene of physical altercation in the 2010 election.  The polling station clerks were on their guard expecting trouble from these activists. Soon news travelled through the city that this time two polling stations in Normanton were suffering the same fate as Abbey had last year — harassment, intimidation and police officers turning up, resulting eventually in temporarily closing down the polling stations affected.

I checked with the regional agent because I had thought (mistakenly) that it was prohibited to park vehicles with party insignia outside polling stations.  It is prohibited to use loud speaker vans within 200 yards of a polling station.  The Derby Evening Telegraph reported the incident in Normanton  but didn’t feel Abbey’s situation merited a mention in the papers last night or this morning.

As it stands, Labour have done well in Derby, and now stand to take charge of the council with 22 seats, but their conduct prior to the election and on polling day raises serious questions about their undue influence on the result.  Of course Derby Conservatives will make their own decision about what (if any) action to take, but it seems to me that they have strong grounds for a complaint.   Intimidation at polling stations is simply not part of the British style of democracy, and it needs to be nipped in the bud.

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7 Responses to Labour intimidation in Derby

  1. Gail Wharmby says:

    Intimidation of any kind should be strongly frowned upon

  2. Steve Kent says:

    Their appearance, language and ethnic background is not the issue, the issue is the behaviour.

    By bringing ethnicity into it, and with your mugshot embedded over a union jack, you run the risk of coming across as a BNP sympathising fool rather than a Conservative MEP for the East Midlands.

    • The fact is, Steve, that there is a pattern of anti-democratic behaviour amongst some ethnic minority councillors and activists, and arguably those behaviours are imported from foreign countries where they are endemic. This is a real problem which we in Britain need to address, and I will not be intimidated from doing so by racist slurs such as your own. By the way you might like to take note that my Press Officer, Neelam Cartmell, on whose first-hand observation this blog item is based, is of South Asian parentage.

  3. Oh come on Steve, is the use of the Union Flag (jask when on a boat was always led to believe) only allowed by extremists, because that is the conclusion one would draw from what you are saying.

    One wonders what you think of the Union flags all around London for the Royal Wedding. Extremists?

  4. Roger is correct here. I have been seeing this sort of behaviour from certain ethnic groups for some years. It affects all parties. Including us Tories on one occasion that I saw. I have tried to raise it, but nobody wants to know. The key problem, I believe, is that people higher up the chain in the Conservative Party, and in the police I think, are worried about being branded racist if they raise this – so they do not say anything. It is idiotic behaviour like that of Steve Kent who delight in branding right wingers as racists who allow this sort of behaviour to flourish. So Steve, think first before you speak. By your actions you allow the elderly, the frail and the vulnerable to be bullied and intimidated by thugs. Is that really what you want?

  5. Sue says:

    Steve Kent : This has happened with postal votes in Rochdale too. It IS ENDEMIC of Asian Culture. Stupid ethnicity remarks help nobody when the truth is the TRUTH! I refuse to be made to feel guilty by people screaming racism, it’s killing our democracy and free speech.

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