I’m considering shaving my head and getting a pair of antlers tatooed on it.
I thought I was indulging in black humour when I drew comparisons between the progress of Ghana toward democracy, and the current UK election. I really thought it would look funny later. But now I’m hearing about the kind of shit that used to happen under Achaempong. I’m hearing about police breaking through spontaneous protests of the disenfranchised outside polling booths.
The BBC report that hundreds of people in constituencies spread across London, Manchester, Chester, Liverpool, Bolton and Sheffield have been shut out of polling stations after multi-hour queuing. I fully expect to hear of more. I’m hearing about polling stations that ran out of ballots. I’m hearing about spontaneous protests at polling stations being broken by police.
The Electoral Commission have announced that they will be investigating electoral irregularities. 3 seats have returned and they are already saying this! In 1992, three separate sets of observers were in action; UN, some Swiss hired by the government and some Finns I never found out who hired. Everyone and the BBC agreed the elections were fair. One observer said on air, “If Eastern Europe could run elections this clean I’d be out of a job.”
Not if the returning officers of Sheffield Hallam have anything to do with it, mate. What we have here is students (the group most likely to vote LibDem) being separated from ‘residents’ into a separate queue. They were then processed so much more slowly that ‘hundreds’ (BBC) were turned away without being able to vote.
[ Edit 0040: Here is the 140-character saga of the Sheffield Hallam law student Rak Smith. Disenfranchisement in a modern democracy, tweeted live. I would like to congratulate Raksky for presence of mind and good liberal instincts in making a speech to angry riot police. And I would like to add my fury and support to the pleas of those who have been denied their right to vote. ]
This is scandalous. Leaving aside the convenient coincidence that this is Nick Clegg’s own seat; this is a travesty against one of the longest democratic traditions in the world. Be it conspiracy or not, it is most certainly cock-up, and that’s not bloody good enough.
We suspected that a hung parliament would reveal the bankruptcy of this system. There’s no evidence yet to suggest that the seats will accurately reflect the popular vote, so that is still likely. But it didn’t occur to me that we’d see the kind of voting irregularities we saw in elections run by the Bush regime.
I could never vote in Ghana. I campaigned, but couldn’t vote. And I remember what the polling queues looked like. Hundreds of people standing singing in the sunshine, baking and sweating and grinning their ears off. I remember hearing about violence in Gonja territory, and how fast it was dealt with. People were in jail by the end of the day. I predict now that no-one will go to prison for this. If we wouldn’t prosecute them for the Iraq war we won’t prosecute anyone for this.
BBC, in 2010, report that the police have broken picket lines in two places, where enraged voters who had been denied the chance to vote had blocked the ballot box until it carried their electoral rights within its seal.
The system is bankrupt. It cannot be permitted. I’ve heard calls for V masks in Parliament square. I’m inclined to echo them right now.