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Thursday 29 April 2010

Kerry McCarthy: a Tweet too Far

Labour parliamentary candidate for Bristol East - Kerry McCarthy - is quite rightly under police investigation following her tweeting to supporters about the preliminary results revealed in counting 300 postal votes. This episode demonstrates once again that the postal voting system is wide open to abuse. By leaking this information today, McCarthy can be seen as trying to influence the outcome of the election in the constituency that she is contesting. She should be disqualified from her candidature having revealed that she is willing to abuse the democratic process.

As with Brown's comment yesterday, McCarthy's abuse of the voting system shows that many Labour politicians hold the general public in contempt. Metro reports that
Ms McCarthy, who is defending Bristol East and is the party’s media czar, said she was ‘kicking herself’ after sending the outcome of 300 votes to her 5,700 followers on the site.

It is illegal to reveal votes cast before the end of polling day because this may influence the outcome of the election.

The post has since been removed from Twitter.

An Electoral Commission spokeswoman said candidates who see the front of a ballot paper ‘must maintain the secrecy of voting’.

Releasing the information early can lead to a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison in England and Wales. In Scotland, the offence carries a maximum jail term of 12 months.

Ms McCarthy, who won the Bristol East seat at the 2005 general election, said she had been to a ‘training exercise’ in which staff verified personal identifiers on the postal votes.

On publishing the results, she added: ‘I was pretty silly. It was thoughtless. I was being overexuberant.’

In her blog, she later described herself as ‘another penitent sinner’ – the phrase by Gordon Brown on Wednesday after he apologised to a grandmother for calling her ‘bigoted’.
A 'penitent sinner'? What rot. What we have here is an embarrassed unprincipled candidate who is now rattled by the fact that she has been found out. If you are a voter in Bristol East, show your displeasure at McCarthy's attempt to undermine democracy by voting for Brian Jenkins, your local BNP candidate. Whatever you do, don't vote for McCarthy!

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