Company behind People’s Vote used controversial Blue Telecoms in referendum campaign | The SKWAWKBOX

  • Open Britain, the company behind the People’s Vote campaign, was originally The In Campaign/Stronger In
  • Blue Telecoms was the company exposed in a Channel 4 undercover operation that led to a warning to the Tories from the Information Commissioner and a lengthy police investigation
  • TIC/Stronger In also contracted Blue Telecoms for apparently identical services, according to Blue Telecoms’ CEO

For full disclosure, the author of this article voted ‘remain’ in the EU referendum.

Saturday’s march in London by the “People’s Vote” campaign that is run by the organisation Open Britain has highlighted the strength of feeling among a significant number of people eager to reverse the UK’s impending departure from the European Union.

Stronger In

Open Britain claims to be a ‘grassroots’ campaign, but is run by or associated with an array of centrists and Tories – and critics of the campaign have accused it of being a vehicle for attacks on the Labour leadership.


Source: Company behind People’s Vote used controversial Blue Telecoms in referendum campaign | The SKWAWKBOX

Brian Monteith: Showing ID a smart move that will curb voter fraud : The Scotsman

Being able to vote in an election, to choose the people that decide the laws by which we should abide, or who commit us to war or set the taxes that we must pay is a right that our forebears have made great sacrifices to procure and protect. It is a solemn undertaking when we exercise our vote, one that we should treat in all seriousness, for we are not just casting a ballot on behalf of ourselves, but also in the knowledge that our choice may impact irrevocably on others.

It is, therefore, important that the ballot is, in every respect, beyond reproach; that we know it has not been tampered with and could not have been subverted to the benefit of any one candidate or a party’s candidates. Seeking to skew an election is not an easy task and while the aftermath of British elections has on occasion led to isolated examples of accusations about individuals or certain groups exploiting seeming weaknesses in our procedures, instances of malpractice or deliberate cunning that have led to prosecutions are, thankfully, rare.

Following the last General Election concerns were raised that young students were encouraged to cast their votes twice by voting once from their home address and again using a second term-time address. To do so would have been illegal, and while the police investigated some 70 specific reports in the end only one successful prosecution was brought against Mohammed Zain Qureshi. He had voted twice from his home address by registering two different versions of his name and thus obtaining two polling cards.

Nevertheless it is not as if we have not had difficulties with personation or double voting before. For decades the joke that in Northern Ireland voters were encouraged to “vote early, and vote often” by using the names of dead relatives that might still be on the electoral roll was believed to have some substance. In 2002 a Northern Ireland opinion survey showed 66 per cent believed “electoral fraud is very common in some areas” whilst 64 per cent thought in some areas it was “enough to change the election results”.

After the Labour government passed its Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act in 2002 – requiring voters to present photographic proof of identity – comparative surveys of returning officers in 2001 and 2003 indicated the percentage who reported seeing people vote more than once had decreased from 3 per cent to 0.1 per cent. Those experiencing being turned away because someone had already voted in their name declined from 4 per cent to 1 per cent and those presented with documents they suspected to be forgeries declined from 3 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

Source: Brian Monteith: Showing ID a smart move that will curb voter fraud : The Scotsman

EXCLUSIVE: red tape blocks disabled people from becoming election candidates: Third Force News

Where is the equality, again people who are disabled are being discriminated against.


Outrage as legislation prevents disabled candidates getting financial support from Scottish Government.

Strict rules governing election expenses means disabled people are being discouraged from becoming candidates for next month’s general election.

A Scottish Government fund which was hugely successful in enabling disabled people to become local councillors has been halted ahead of the 8 June snap election for fear of falling foul of Electoral Commission guidelines.

The access to elected office (AEO) fund (Scotland) was administered by Inclusion Scotland and enabled 39 disabled candidates to take part in local elections – 15 of whom were elected to 12 councils.

The fund offered grants to disabled people to help with additional costs they may face in standing for election as a councillor, such as extra transport or sign language interpreters.

It means a disabled candidate will now have to shoulder the considerable costs themselves.

Disabled campaigners believe the Scottish Government has taken the…

View original post 145 more words

Voters with a disability are reminded there should be no barriers to them casting their vote on 7 May

Original post* from The Electoral Commission*

The independent elections watchdog and regulator of party and election finance

‘………….*Voters with a disability are reminded there should be no barriers to them casting their vote on 7 May

News release published: 01-05-2015

Voters with a disability are being reminded by the Electoral Commission that there should be no barriers to them casting their vote at the General Election on 7 May.

Acting Returning Officers (AROs), who are responsible for the conduct of the poll, must ensure that the voting process is accessible to all. The Electoral Commission has provided guidance to AROs to help them meet their equality obligations and ensure that everyone who is entitled to cast their vote can do so. Polling station staff should also have received training on the assistance that is available to any voter wishing to vote in person at a polling station.

This year, in addition to the Commission’s own public information line (0333 103 1928), the first dedicated helpline for anyone with a learning disability who has questions about casting their vote, or experiences any difficulties in doing so, has been set up by Mencap, a partner of the Electoral Commission.

The helpline is also available to the families and carers of people with learning disabilities and polling station staff. The helpline number is 020 7696 5588. In addition, the Commission has produced a joint factsheet with Mencap to remind voters of their rights.

Andrew Scallan, Director of Electoral Administration at the Electoral Commission, said:

“Anyone who’s eligible to vote on polling day should be able to do so in a confident manner. Polling station staff are trained to provide assistance to any voter who asks for it. If a voter has had a negative experience of casting their vote at a polling station in the past, I’d urge them to get in touch with their local Returning Officer in advance of polling day to ensure their needs will be met on 7 May.”

Vijay Patel, who has a learning disability, is an assistant for Mencap’s Me and My Vote project. He says:

“When it comes to voting, some people with a learning disability are told they can’t vote when they enter their local polling station. This is wrong. It doesn’t allow them to have their say. It is their right that they are allowed to vote and it’s discrimination if they are stopped from voting in the election. I think the helpline is a good idea. It will help people with a learning disability on election day – if they are turned away from a polling station, they can call us and we can make sure they can vote. I will be voting on election day and I hope people with a learning disability will be too.”

Voters can find the contact details for their local electoral services team

Any voter with a disability is entitled to:

  • The right to request assistance to mark the ballot paper. This could be asking the Presiding Officer at the polling station to mark the ballot paper for them; bringing a close family member who’s over 18 to help them vote; or bringing someone’s who eligible to vote at the election. For example, a support worker, as long as they are entitled to vote themselves.
  • A tactile voting device. This is fixed onto the ballot paper so visually impaired people can mark their ballot paper in secret.
  • See a large print version of the ballot paper for reference. This should be clearly displayed in the polling station and a copy can be given to a voter to take into the polling booth. But, a voter must still only mark their ballot paper.
  • Assistance to gain access to the polling station. Returning Officers must consider accessibility requirements when planning for elections and polling stations are selected in consultation with local disability groups. If a voter can’t enter the polling station because of a physical disability, the Presiding Officer may take the ballot paper to the elector.


For further information contact:

Karim Aziz in the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704
Out of office hours 07789 920 414

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections and are responsible for the conduct and regulation of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000).
  2. For more information on the secrecy provisions that a Presiding Officer must follow, see our Polling Station Handbook from page 20 here.
  3. To see the Mencap and Electoral Commission factsheet for people with a learning disability, click here
  4. To see the Electoral Commission’s factsheet on disabled people’s voting rights, clickhere  ……………’


Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

ELECTION 2015: Two disabled activists barred from job-sharing MP bids

Original post from Disableded Go News



Disabled activists have been barred from standing as job-share candidates in at least two constituencies in next month’s general election.

At least three serious attempts – two involving disabled people – have been made to persuade officials that two or more people should be allowed to stand together for election to represent a single parliamentary constituency.

But all three attempts have been rebuffed, two by the acting returning officers and one by the Electoral Commission.

Disabled activists believe that allowing job-sharing MPs would lead to an increase in the number of disabled people and women represented in parliament.

Both the Greens and the Liberal Democrats have endorsed the idea of allowing MPs to job-share, and the Lib Dems have included it in their election manifesto.

The Greens say it is still party policy to introduce job-sharing and that it is covered by its manifesto pledge to “work vigorously” towards ensuring all levels of government and public bodies are “representative of the diversity of the populations for whom they work”.

Legal advice from a leading human rights barrister, commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has suggested that the Electoral Commission could be breaching both the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act by refusing to provide guidance permitting job-share MPs.

In the Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency in north London, disabled activist Adam Lotun had hoped to stand with student Zion Zakari as a job-sharing independent candidate.

They approached the Electoral Commission, but Adrian Green, the commission’s regional manager, told Lotun in an email: “Our view is that the law does not allow two or more candidates to stand jointly for election as an MP.”

Green said that the Parliamentary Constituencies Act and the Representation of the People Act were both “written in such a way as to anticipate single candidates for elections to parliamentary constituencies”.

And he suggested that Lotun raise the issue with the Cabinet Office if he believed the law should change.

Despite the advice, Lotun and Zakari approached the Hackney North and Stoke Newington acting returning officer, but were told that they could not be nominated together.

Now they are taking legal advice and considering court action against the Electoral Commission.

Lotun said: “I was disappointed. It just shows that the system is flawed.

“The rules and regulations, if you apply common sense, would suggest there is no reason why people cannot stand on a job share basis at all.”

He said there was no need for new legislation, just fresh guidance from the Electoral Commission, taking account of what the Equality Act says on discrimination against disabled people and other equality groups.

Lotun said he wanted to job-share the role because he could not commit the necessary time, as a disabled father of a young family, to be a full-time MP.

He said there was significant support for job-sharing MPs within the Labour party, as well as the public positions already taken by the Greens and Liberal Democrats.

In Basingstoke, the disabled Green party activist Clare Phipps was hoping to stand with fellow party member Sarah Cope, but they were told their nomination was invalid.

The constituency’s acting returning officer, Karen Brimacombe, said: “One nomination paper containing two names was rejected as it wasn’t valid under the Representation of the People Act rules.

“As acting returning officer, I have no discretion over the application of these rules.”

But Phipps and Cope insist that there are no laws or rules preventing joint candidature.

Neither Phipps nor Cope would be able to serve as a full-time MP. Cope is the main carer for two young children, and Phipps has an impairment that prevents her working full-time.

Phipps, who job-shares a position on the Green party executive, said: “It’s time our government reflected the people it is representing. Allowing job-share MPs is just one way we can change politics for the better.”

Allowing job-share MPs has been Green party policy since 2012.

Phipps and Cope are also now seeking legal advice.

In a third case, Rachel Ling and Emma Rome were prevented by the acting returning officer in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, from standing as job-sharing independent candidates.

Deborah King, co-founder of Disability Politics UK, said: “These cases show that the issue of job-sharing for MPs will not just go away.

“Over 45 individuals and organisations supported our campaign letter in the Guardian in 2012.

“Since then, more people have supported the campaign and [Labour MP] John McDonnell has introduced a private members’ bill to get job-sharing for MPs introduced.

“We would urge all political parties in the general election to support job-sharing for MPs as a way of getting more disabled people and more carers into politics.

“The House of Commons is not representative of the electorate. That is why it sometimes makes really bad decisions.

“We need a Commons fit for the 21st century and enabling part-time MPs is one way of achieving that goal.”

An Electoral Commission spokeswoman said: “Our view is that electoral law does not allow the nomination of two or more candidates for one constituency seat at a UK parliamentary election.”

She said that section 1(1) of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 refers to each constituency “returning a single member”.

She added: “Any changes in this area would require amendments to primary legislation. This would be a matter for government and, ultimately, parliament.

“We would suggest that any individual who wished to pursue further questions on policy or legislation in this area contact the Cabinet Office, which is the UK government department responsible for UK electoral law.”

News provided by John Pring at


Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

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