Isn't it amazing ? There's a story about them in the Sunday Times.
Wakefield and Hyde then delivered their briefing. "Simply, what I want you to do is to knock on the door, say you are from the Labour party," instructed Hyde.
"Have you received your postal vote?" he told the students to ask voters. "Have you returned it? If they give it to you in your hand, you collect it and put it in the post box. If they haven’t, you say, ‘Have you got your postal vote?’" Wakefield chipped in: "You’ve got to do it for them."
Hyde then said: "And if you are knocking on the door and they have a postal vote and they haven’t done it, ‘Would you like to do it? We’ll put it in the post.’ We also want to check they are voting Labour as well. Yeah? If they are voting Liberal Dem, then don’t offer to put the postal vote in. We’ve found 10 so far out of all those we’ve done in Gipton."
One of the students then said: "Yes, I’ll post that for you." Hyde laughed and added: "Yes, that’s it, and then it ends up in the toilet."
By a remarkable coincidence, you can't access the details for either Messrs Wakefield or Hyde on the Leeds City Council website. Only Google cache is still there.
The ST also has an editorial.
All three main parties, meanwhile, have signed up to the Electoral Commission’s code of conduct. This means candidates and canvassers will not handle or help voters complete their postal ballot papers, that they encourage voters to post ballot papers themselves and if asked to take a completed ballot paper, to make sure the voter has sealed it first. They must also ensure voters complete ballot papers in secret, and not solicit completed postal ballot papers from electors.
Today we report that the Labour party in Leeds has driven an articulated lorry through this code in a desperate attempt to gain power on the city council. An undercover reporter posing as a student activist was part of a team told by the leader of the Labour group on the council, Keith Wakefield, and a fellow Labour politician, to collect postal votes in two key wards, and if necessary "help" voters fill in the forms. The other councillor, Graham Hyde, who worked in the Commons for George Mudie, the former Labour deputy chief whip, warned the canvassers not to get caught with any postal voting forms on them.
Every aspect of the code, in other words, was breached. As David Crompton, assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire, put it when told of Labour’s actions: "This is extremely sharp practice and a clear breach of the guidelines. We will now be looking at this carefully to determine whether a crime has been committed." Whatever the police do, the Labour party should suspend the councillors involved.
I have an old-fashioned cliche in my mind's eye - of idealistic middle-class types making sacrifices to help the working class. Last week's Indie piece on core Labour demography should dispel any illusions that Labour are in any sense a working class party.
She was among a group of 12 students, mostly studying English, politics and history, who were then driven to the car park of the Fairway pub in Gipton.
The area (Gipton), in eastern Leeds, is one of the rougher suburbs, made up largely of council tower blocks and sprawling estates. Gangs of youths hang around on street corners and the unemployment rate is high.
The suburb, whose residents are typically white working-class or poor Asian families, was until recently solidly Labour.
We're seeing middle-class people making sacrifices to defraud the working class. Thus far have we come since Peterloo and the Chartists.
Richard Price QC, an expert on electoral law, said: "I look at the situation as like a large bowl of water. Previously there were a couple of holes in it — isolated cases of fraud — but suddenly it has become a colander. It is a completely unnecessary crisis. With postal voting you have abolished the secret ballot, and your investigation is a classic example of this."
Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, an academic expert on elections, added: "Postal voting on demand is inherently unsatisfactory. The whole system is open to abuse. Secret ballots were introduced in 1872 to stop exactly this sort of problem and we now seem to be going back to the 19th century."
Sir Alistair Graham, who stood down as chairman of the committee on standards in public life last week, recently accused ministers of being in denial about the "real and potent threat" facing the electoral system as a result of fraud. He warned that the government could not ensure the forthcoming local elections would be free, fair or secure.