Election Night Special – comments from Boris

ON election night itself it was a privilege to watch Steve Lake, the returning officer, at work. Just before announcing the result, he called all the candidates to examine the dodgy ballot papers, of which there seemed to be an unusually high number. One voter had used his ballot paper to express an unprintable view of all politicians. Another had drawn a series of enigmatic flowers. About 40 UKIP voters had also voted Conservative (which tells you something), so spoiling their ballots. One man had voted UKIP, and then crossed it out and voted for me, initialling his decision as if correcting a cheque. Steve Lake said that this rendered the vote invalid, since he was potentially identifiable. But the best ballot paper had a series of smiley faces in each box. I was about to claim it as a Tory vote, since ours was plainly the smiliest face. But then I thought that might look like gamesmanship.

IT probably happens to every sitting MP, but the day before the election – and for the first time in the campaign – I was suddenly assailed by The Fear.

It was lunchtime in Thame, and it was raining. We were meant to be doing our last walkabout, handing out leaflets and drumming up custom. But every time I accosted a potential voter, I seemed to be getting the brush-off, and they were getting ruder and ruder. ‘No!’ said someone, refusing to take my hand or make eye contact. ‘Go away! yapped another. But the worst was an old bird who shouted at me about the poll tax and blamed me for Black Wednesday. “What you did was evil,” she cried. It was no use pointing out that I had no involvement in either, and as the drizzle trickled down our cheeks, I felt the stirrings of alarm. What if this reflected a huge last-minute surge to Labour or the Lib Dems? What if the political map of South Oxfordshire was about to turn as yellow as the fields of rape?

As it turned out, of course, the election in Henley went far better than we could have hoped. I am very grateful to all the people who voted for me, and also grateful to the diminishing numbers of those who voted against me. It is very exciting to be in a new parliament, with a much stronger opposition, and there is a huge amount of work to do. Here are three key local priorities:

l. Keep working on the Townlands Hospital Redevelopment. We have hit a snag, but I do not believe it to be fatal, and I hope everyone who cares about the place will help keep up the pressure until the Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority gives the go-ahead.

2. Keep fighting for Oxfordshire to be given proper funding by national government. We face huge housing costs in this area, which has a direct impact on the cost of nursing, social services and all manner of other public services. Too much of Oxfordshire’s capital support grant is still being skewed away to the north of the country, and Labour ministers need to recognize that fact.

3. Keep the green belt clear of giant Prescottian developments. Once you breach the limit of Grenoble Road, for instance, where do you stop? That is why we have green belts. Of course there is a case for more affordable housing, but it should be constructed sensitively and in accordance with local wishes.

36 thoughts on “Election Night Special – comments from Boris”

  1. “One man had voted UKIP, and then crossed it out and voted for me, initialling his decision as if correcting a cheque. Steve Lake said that this rendered the vote invalid, since he was potentially identifiable.”

    But ALL ballots are potentially identifiable as they are uniquely numbered and the numbers put next to your name when you vote. Granted, in the past this made it very difficult, maybe almost impossible, to trace a ballot back to the voter…but computers, databases, and scanners (OCR systems enabled).

    I’ve been a little worried by this for a while, as it does seem to be eroding the anonimity of our votes. But hey, no doubt they will try and introduce electronic voting machines soon…then the votes become completely invisible and democracy really will be dead.

    ***(long list of expletives showing my feelings towards such things deleted for public health reasons!)***

  2. “Too much of Oxfordshire’s capital support grant is still being skewed away to the north of the country”

    Yes, and too much of the north’s regeneration money is being given to the south. Swings and roundabouts, Boris.

  3. Prescottian:
    1) an object or land development of gargantuan size: “clear of Prescottian developments”
    2) a portly man:
    “Wow, Dave is getting quite Prescottian”

  4. The price we pay for our brand of Democracy is to allow splinter groups and Parties to stand for election. They are always going to be with us so we ought not to wonder at some of the anomolous antics of the few. Shame that the main Parties don’t have universal appeal, but that’s life..
    As for the distribution of Government, (our), funds throughout the regions; I agree with Claire, but more to the point: when is common sense going to be seen and felt in Westminster? It is time for a radical decentralisation programme for our vastly overmanned Civil Service. When will that happen; the movement to the so-called provinces would:-
    a)Save money, due to reduced capital costs, and indeed in salaries.
    b)Somewhat reduce the pressure on the overheated labour market in the SE.
    c)Reduce the need for the enormous planned increase in housing in the SE.
    d)Redistribute Government monies to the regions in the form of purchase power.

    In this electronic age of instant information transfer, there can be no real contra-argument to this proposal. Green belt land is increasingly under pressure, due to the depredations of certain Government departments. More sparsely settled parts of the country could , and indeed should, be brought into consideration for development, thus helping to alleviate the discerned need to build where overpopulation is already a problem.

    William Blake, today, would blow a gasket
    If he could only see his England now
    His dream of Paradise in rural England
    Is lost! ‘Thanks Fatty Prescott,’ anyhow.

    Blake was keen to see his New Jerusalem
    Built on England’s pleasant pastures green
    But Prescott favours hosts of New Age Travellers.
    So Gypsies and the tinkers flood the scene.

    A million South East homes demands our Prescott
    Not for him; for them: you understand.
    But, once again in Labour’s erstwhile fashion
    He’s set to confiscate your village land.

    Brown sites, and of these there are aplenty
    Are sitting there and just need clearing out
    To dwell within the centre of the city,
    Is cool Man: ask the in crowd ,they don’t have a doubt

  5. Re: funding going to the north / south. If you subtract the share of the south’s money that goes to London (ie: the lion’s share), suddenly the south doesn’t look quite so well off. Whatever the right and wrong, Boris is just doing his job by putting the case passionately for his own constituency.

  6. Boris. Your influence on local development is outstanding! I’d like to propose that the new roundabout on the Reading approach to Henley be immediately uprooted and tranported to the Tate Modern. Don’t be modest! Your erstwhile position in Shadow Arts is clearly evident. Bragg writes, “On approaching from Reading we were surprised to encounter a small blue boat stranded on a beach. On the Reading side regular ‘clump’ planting suggest tumultuous seas, irregular rocks and boulders hint at an ocean of ignorance traversed and a fortuitious arrival on a benign shore, (Henley -on- Thames)a green and pleasant land indeed! Some suggest the boat may yet be filled with flowers – a masterstroke indeed.” How wise not to have involved Mr Hirst in this particular project! The boat is blue! Will you be helming the craft in the forseeable future?

  7. I never did get the dissalowing ballots with an identifying mark on them thing. Why is this? It’s not a secret ballot anyway, according to an official I spoke to, each paper has a unique number which can, post election be cross refrenced with the slips. Assuming this is true, which, it seemed to be from the way the woman at the polling station marked her list, then we have no secret ballots anyway. Then again, niether do we have proportional representation, or any of the other things that could make this country a functioning democracy.

  8. Returning to the prickly matter of ID cards, it’s been rumoured that the Government will try to force the new bill through while the Conservatives are supposedly in disarray. Does Boris know if the party will form a united front against this law like it did when it abstained last time?

  9. Abstaining (OR missing the vote, Boris!) on ID cards is not good enough. Anyone naive enough to believe they will solve anything should be labelled with a yellow six-pointed star and sent to an “alteration” camp, where they can be altered from being alive prats into the (much more useful) dead prats.

    If you see what i mean.

  10. The uniquely numbered ballot paper and annotation of the register is apparently to stop people voting twice. I’ve always disputed this as contrary to my rights as, putting aside the question of whether they can or will track my vote back to me, I have a right to a secret vote and part of that secret is WHETHER I have voted or not, the privacy of this is invaded by this system.

    Why can’t we be required to hand in our voting card which is instantly shredded prior to our being given an unnumbered voting paper?

    In any case I could have voted several times when I was still living in the UK. I moved house frequently and each time dutifully notified the electoral registrar, who dutifully registered me at the new address but never removed me from the old one. As I was not required to hand in my voting card, but just give my name and address, I could have got away with voting four or five times in the same ward(!), even though to do so is probably against the law, in spirit at least.

    Make us give in our voting card which is then destroyed, and when someone registers a new address, remove the old one, then you get less opportunity for vote fraud.

    And while you’re at it, make it easier for expats like myself to exercise our rights to register and vote – why should I have to be witnessed as a UK citizen by two other UK citizens in my new home country whereas in the UK I don’t have to prove anything at all.

  11. Congrats Boris!

    And as for the ballot not being secret, it is possible to check everyone’s vote – but being an election official is time consuming enough without being bothered going through thousands of ballot papers against the electoral register to see how everybody voted.

  12. AJ,

    computer scanners, Optical Character Recognition software (OCR), databases…all you need is an oik feeding ballot papers into a chute…how hard is THAT to see how an individual voted? Welcome to the 21st century! (although this technology is older than that!)

  13. Psimon: surely AJ has a point. At the time of the election, following Polling station closing, the counting requires all the slips to be present, so that counting can begin, and surely time is at a premium. One cannot argue against the fact that is theoretically possible, given time and opportunity;following the announcement of the election results , that the slips could be electronically scanned and enumerated, but to what end? It would serve no useful purpose since the election would, by then, be decided. Far better to have postal votes checked for evidence of forgery, in view of the recent disclosures of fraud.

  14. I’m personally of the opinion that postal votes should only be allowed to people who can’t otherwise get out to vote – elderly people, too ill, too isolated etc. But that’s another point. Also voter fraud would be greatly reduced if the voting roll was computerised, with computers in polling stations all linked up to one another, this would certainly prevent multiple voting (I have student friends who voted at home and at uni with no problems)

    Also, I’ve never helped with a national election, but I have done many other types and before we announce the result all the ballot papers have to go back into the boxes and be re-sealed, so we can prove they haven’t been tampered with if a recount if subsequently held.

  15. Ok, so…

    Macarnie, yes…you are right to a degree. I’m just not so trusting that the way I vote won’t be held against me at a later date. Whilst the Government is moderately trustworthy (i cannot, in all honesty, say that THIS is true!) there is no problem. However, what happens if someone decides to “purge the ballot boxes” of any voters they don’t want in the NEXT election?

    As to the completely ridiculous suggestion from AJ regarding introducing computerised electronic voting…invisible votes are an EXTREMELY bad idea! Heavens to Murgatroyd, if you really can’t see how THAT could be (and would be) misused there is no hope anymore.

    Every election we seem to be led a little further away from what is right for the people, and a little closer to what is right for power-hungry quasi-dictators like Bliar. BEWARE!

  16. Anyone else already sick to death of this new cabinet? And I hope that my MP doesn’t think that just because he’s in the cabinet means he can get out of responding to my letters…

  17. [quote]
    I am very grateful to all the people who voted for me, and also grateful to the diminishing numbers of those who voted against me.

    That is a quote worth framing. 🙂

  18. Psimon: I didn’t say computerised voting – that is a recipe for a chaos, ditto the crazy ideas I’ve heard of voting via text and digital tv. I said computerise the VOTING ROLL. At the moment, you hand over your little voting card and someone checks it against a list. If, like me, you’re a student you may have two voting cards – one for home, one for uni, unless someone can be bothered (highly unlikely) checking all the voting rolls in the country, its virtually impossible to tell whether somebody has voted twice in different constituencies. If the voting roll was computerised, you are ‘ticked off’ so to speak on a computer. Making it virtually impossible for you to vote twice. That was my theory – sorry if you think its daft. But I think the current voting system is full of holes you could drive double-deckers through and something needs to be done!

  19. Sorry Psimon: AJ has the high ground here: trouble is, his solution smacks, eventually, of the personalised ID card.
    I am for this measure , as it happens, for no less a reason that it can ,( or perhaps better expressed, could), be a weapon against certain types of crime: fraud for instance, with all its ramifications. I would however, be against the imposition of a personal levy or payment for this so called privilege. If the Government wish to impose this measure , let the cost be borne out of general taxation: we certainly pay enough as it is . One thing is however, certain, the present voting system does need reforming, and radically, if the general public is to be convinced that the Government of the day; of whichever colour,is not in the business of vote ,and indeed, voter manipulation for its own benefit.

  20. The problem i have with the ID card…for every benefit i can think of 4 drawbacks. And each of those drawbacks has potentially worse consequences than the combined positive points have benefits.

    Think i’ll emigrate. Sorry Boris, guess you’ll have to lose me as a voter if this comes in!

  21. Psimon: be sure not to emigrate to another EU State if you don’t want the ID measure. It’s a dead cert that we will have to carry one if this spunkless shower carries through its avowed intent to sign up for the United States of Europe.( I heard ,just now, that even if France votes against the constitution, we will still have the chance to give this band of European Federation Loving, champagne Socialists a bloody nose.) Don’t forget to vote, even with your reservation against the voting system, it may be imperfect: poor thing , but it’s all we have.

  22. Macarnie – She please! She!!!

    I’m majorly against ID cards if they have to hold biometric data (too Big Brother) or if police and other random officials are allowed to demand to see them (I have a short temper, I’d get arrested very quickly) but in essence an ID card isn’t such a bad idea. I already carry my photocard driving licence around with me all the time, that has my address, signature etc on it. It makes life easier in many situations where ID is required.

    However, ID cards in the hands of this government – bad idea! How long till the next election?!

  23. Psimon – we musn’t lose you!

    Watch out for the debate on ID cards in parliament next week.

  24. AJ (gender now noted): the trouble with the use of pen names is that one never knows whom one might be addressing. On the subject of ID cards: it seems that the majority of people to whom I have spoken on this ticklish subject do not want to be controlled: however, we are already controlled, to a greater or lesser extent, whether we like it or not. There is, however, a section of people not controlled, at least not efficiently, and that comprises such people as travellers and Gypsies. These people do not contribute to society, via council tax, or indeed via any direct taxation, in the way we, by law, are required to contribute, and yet they reap the benefits of the Welfare State. This, I contend, is one perfect reason for ID cards, as would be the compulsory registration of such people 1). De-registration: when they move out of one area. 2) Registration: each time when setting up camp in another area. Taxes charged, at the going rate for each area, could be amicably shared between the areas affected.
    The UK public in general, is inherently opposed to excessive interference by the State, and most people say they value freedom. How can this be possible when we have never, in modern times, suffered enslavement? One might like what we have, but one can not properly appreciate what it really means, until it is threatened. I cannot see that the use of ID cards would in the least detract from, or threaten, the relative freedoms we have. Freedom is more than just a state of mind. It is something one should use; not abuse. Lots of people scream about rights, but I have yet to hear a similar hubbub from the same people, about responsibilities. Why not?

  25. Unfortunately, “freedom” is not guaranteed by law. Even our rights to trial by our peers, and the assumption of innocence, have fallen to Labours bizarre quest for enslaving the country. And this from a supposedly benign government! Perish the thought, but what if the BNP won the next election? Or the one after that? How would the system be used then? There is no point in trying to bolt this stable door AFTER the horse has fled!

    As to the comments on travellers: This is a VERY complex issue, and one that you get a better picture of if you DON’T read a certain Daily Paper! I agree that people should not evade tax, then expect benefits. I don’t feel, however, that biometric ID cards will help this. A fundamental change to our benefit system might. What if benefit was awarded on an earned point system? Taxpayers automatically earn points. Non-taxpayers could be “employed” in a variety of public interest jobs to earn points (benefits paid as they work as well). My friends in Norway tell me you have to work for the local government there for several months before you can “sign on”. It keeps the country wonderfully clean and smooth functioning!

    Besides this, as AJ has pointed out, we already HAVE plenty of ID! Wouldn’t the money for bio-ID be better spent on improving our hospitals or schools? It’s not as though the Government has a very good track record for introducing such complex schemes anyway!

    I am NOT a criminal. I (almost) happily pay my taxes. I do not involve myself with anti-social behaviour (unless it’s trying to stop someone elses!). I have “nothing to fear”. Yet this route terrifies’s me! I refer you again to the “poem” by Martin Niemoller, survivor of a nazi concentration camp:

    “First they came for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Communist.
    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Jew.
    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I was a Protestant.
    Then they came for me,
    and by that time there was no one
    left to speak up for me.”

  26. PS. I’m aware that I may be coming over as paranoid. I’m sure i don’t need to remind you that, just because i AM paranoid, doesn’t mean (etc.)


  27. PPS.

    Barry…I got a similar promise from him last time round…then the bugger went and missed the vote because he got the wrong time! Melissa, can you tie a knot in his hanky for us?


  28. Psimon: I hardly think that the poem from Niemoller has significance in the present discussion. Acc. to our masters; all of those categories;( perhaps with the notable exception of the last one), are unimpeachable, due to the PC safeguards imposed . We are not, Acc. to press reports today ,even allowed to say ” Bristol Fashion,” since this has been deemed ” racist”!
    However I digress: Blair’s namesake did write 1984, and it was a watchword for an expected political catastrophe, Big Bro. and all : didn’t happen though, did it? I feel you are being a tad pessimistic in the run up to a possible non event : the referendum.

  29. 1984, of course, was so entitled because it was published in 1948 and Orwell swapped the last 2 numbers. No specific date for what he saw as an inevitable future was given.

    We already have over 80% of the worlds CCTV cameras here in the UK. We are, already, the worlds most watched people. Isn’t it nice to know how our own Government trusts us, the people, eh?

    No, my point here was simple. It will be impossible to close this (ID card) door AFTER the horse has gone missing. Besides, having spent the last 8 years listening to a Government that says one thing, but is thinking and doing something completely different, I wouldn’t trust ANY thing that they are proposing. It will all be based on dodgey logic and lies, as every Labour policy seems to be. And, as they have lied about everything else, why would anyone be so stupid as to believe them when they talk of “benefits” of ID cards? That person would have to be a moron, or just so naive as to be mistaken for one.

    Anti-terrorism? They stop that well in Spain, eh? Immigration? Well, most the “immigrants” that people are objecting too are from the new EU countries – and they’re as entitled to be here as we are entitled to do the same in their country. So, no change there then. Crime? I GUARANTEE that this will not help…i’ve already seen fake EU ID, it’s very good. Besides, criminals break the law. So forcing ID cards on them won’t actually help, will it? It’s just another law they can break. In fact, should ID cards be introduced and made compulsary, i WILL be a criminal…because that’s the label that will be forced on me for standing up for freedom and refusing their orders.

    Macarnie, poet of note that you are, why should a free spirit, such as yourself, believe in the removal of freedom and trust from society? Because that’s what bio-metric IDs amount too. Our ever-so-trustworthy Government doesn’t trust its people.

    As to Niemoller’s poem..there is more than one version:
    “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out

  30. This Government, and indeed any and every Government is right to distrust SOME of the people, since, unfortunately we do not live in Paradise,( nor even in the neighbourhood). The minority whose perception of right is to ignore the niceties of a civilised society, or to act in an antisocial manner must, as our population continues to grow, be held answerable for the ever increasing lack of respect for person and property alike . ID cards would not be an absolute, or ideal, solution, but, in the absence of a better suggestion, the requirement to carry them would go some of the way toward identifying wrongdoers.The one right which we all still have , which is indisputable , is the right to think our own thoughts, however they may differ from others.( Having said that, perhaps the Brownie might change that too).

  31. Firstly, i really don’t see how carrying ID cards will help stop criminals. It’ll only help identify them if you can catch them, and they (the police) can’t seem to do that now (unless you consider motorists as criminals…they’re very good at catching THEM!). After you’ve caught them, identifying them isn’t that hard.

    Secondly, without a right to a fair trial by my peers, without the right to legal representation (both things the government seems very keen on – the loss of said rights!) i simply DO NOT TRUST them to decide what is and is not criminal. Blimey, what if anyone that voted for Boris was to be carted off to a “Special hospital” for showing signs of intelligence?

    No, the fact that the government has always been hopeless at getting any IT project right…i just know it’s all going to go wrong. The database will end up in the wrong hands, criminals will have fake identities that the dtabase thinks are real, miscarriages of justice will increase, future governments (even THIS government) will use it for other purposes. Any or all of the above are more than likely. And then it will all be too late. NONE OF THE THINGS THAT ID CARDS ARE SUPPOSED TO STOP HAVE STOPPED IN THE COUNTRIES THAT USE THEM! If it LOOKS like a cowpat, SMELLS like a cowpat…it ain’t a quiche!

    LOL,No, the only way to REALLY cut down on juvenile crime, and the liklihood of said juveniles going on to become career criminals, is to get rid of them. NO MORE CHILDREN!

    Harsh, but fair (i think!).

    We’ll just have to import our workforce…more immigrants! It’s safer! ;o)


    (i was joking about the children…we can just lock them up! ;o) )

  32. Ps.I think we have just about exhausted the possiblities of argument on the pros and cons of some sort of ID,therefore,finally, I offer this little opus. Until relatively recently , I always believed, to a greater or lesser extent, in a considerable amount of self regulation for the whole population. This belief has been drastically disturbed, mainly because there is an element of our society; one which cannot readily be recognized; which is only too eager to take advantage of what it sees as a fundamental weakness in the regulation of society in general.
    “Trust is fine, but checking is better”, is a German truism which stays in my mind as something of which one should take heed. I lived and worked for many years in Germany, Holland ,Norway and elsewhere. In all these places, there was respect for the representatives of the law: mainly due to the fact that the police are seen as the keepers of the peace. Alas, in the UK, there is an element of, (evil is too harsh a word), shall we say lack of respect, for one’s fellow citizen in this country, as witness, for example, happy slapping: to my mind a symptom of brutalisation. For someone living in the relatively civilized retreat of a non urban environment, such as Henley, the pressures of seemingly constant personal attacks is a whole universe away; whereas those living, or even just partying, in inner city areas, are constantly in danger of apparently unprovoked attacks. If this fact is coupled with the so called honour code of no ‘grassing’ on anyone, it becomes a problem. We have 1984 today; even if not in the form described by Orwell; since newspeak is replaced by the patois of the gang leaders and international body smugglers. The culture of individualism has been the breeding ground for petty lawlessness, which has led to sloppiness in upholding the basic tenets of decency, since the CPS is loth to take any case to court which might fail due to lack of convincing evidence. Therein lies the failure of the system: not in the inability of the police to make arrests.

Comments are closed.