UK: Operation Black Vote
Posted on: 2008-04-18 13:18:14
The Electoral Commission and complaints against Operation Black Vote
By Chris Brown
The Electoral Commission, in the middle of a British election campaign is willfully ignoring complaints made in regard to the vitriolic attacks being made against a legitimate political party participating in that election by the Operation Black Vote organisation. Why is that?
Could the reason for this disgraceful behaviour have anything to do with the fact that the focus of these vitriolic attack is none other than the British National Party???
As we informed you last Saturday (April 12th) the organisation known as ‘Operation Black Vote‘ (OBV) has begun a vitriolic campaign against the British National Party, aided and abetted by, Ken Livingstone, Boris “I’m proud of my Muslim roots” Johnson, Brian Paddick and Sian Berry.
Some of the organisations behind the campaign included, the ultra-democratic Muslim Council of Britain, The British Board of Deputies, Hindu Forum, Sikh Forum, London Civic Forum, BAME Labour, Southwark Cathedral (read - some left wing clergy from the Cathedral), and the TUC.
Strange isn’t it that none of these establishment luvvies, along with assorted hangers-on (for their own purposes) see ‘Operation Black Vote‘ as a racist organisation??? Double standards? But of course! For the only ethnic group not afforded protection in today’s Britain are the ethnic English, Scots, Irish and Welsh!
On April 12th we also told you that ‘Operation Black Vote’ appears to have received considerable funding from Government agencies as follows:-
The Home Office - undisclosed amount, reported in press release, 16th March 2006.
The London Councils - £82,500 approved for the period 2004-2007.
The London Government - £33,000 grant recommended for 2006-2007.
In addition, the following statutory authority has given grants to Operation Black Vote:
The Electoral Commission - awarded Operation Black Vote the total of £196,596 over two years.
An e-mailed letter of complaint regarding the inappropriate activities of OBV has been sent to the Electoral Commission, three times. Once on the 13th April, and twice (to two different officials) on the 15th April.
You may not be surprised to learn that there has been no response - not even an emailed acknowledgment - to any of these letters!
The letter in question is copied for your information at the foot of this page.
There are laws that govern how the Electoral Commission operates, and it is of course a ‘Statutory Body‘ that is funded by the Government. For such a body to treat genuine complaints with such cavalier disdain is utterly unacceptable, and we call upon the Electoral Commission to respond to the complainant forthwith. We further call upon the ‘Commission‘ to do that which it was set up for, namely to ensure that elections are administered in a lawful and proper way.
If the rule of law is to be observed they must act.
A continuation of the current situation will show to the world that British elections are now no better than those of Zimbabwe. And those elections are quite rightly currently making headlines around the world. Indeed, whilst these abuses of electoral law continue, how can the British government dare to make unfavourable comments about other countries methods of holding elections? Be it China, Russia, Burma, or any number of other countries scattered around the world, any complaints from Britain would be no more than pots calling kettles black!
The letter is to be sent a fourth time, though this time around it will also be copied to the Zimbabwean High Commission, The Chinese Embassy, The Russian Embassy, and others!
For the attention of: Vera Markos, Head of Strategy and Secretary to The Commission.
This complaint refers to the activities of the organisation Operation Black Vote (OBV), and the funding relationship between OBV and The Charity Commission.
Operation Black Vote has a very clear, and publicly declared, political position. On its website it identifies the “enemy” as the members, and election candidates, of The British National Party. It has been running an overt, anti-BNP political smear campaign since at least March 2002 (in its ‘When Hate Comes To Town‘ article).
In February 2004 it ran an article entitled ‘British National Party Have [sic] No Place In A Decent Society’.
Given the support and considerable funding that The Electoral Commission gives to OBV, many people might conclude that your organisation also supports the position that the BNP “have no place in a decent society” and that the BNP is “the enemy“.
Given that PPERA 2000 requires you, as the statutory authority, to provide support, guidance and assistance to all legal parties, this could pose something of a dilemma for The Electoral Commission.
In a campaign directed at the London Assembly and London Mayoral Elections, launched on the 8th April, OBV promoted its position with some especially virulent forms of hate-mongering propaganda. Those of us with partners or parents who were victims of the London Blitz find this, personally, to be a particularly sick form of political activism.
Why, then, does the Electoral Commission, a publicly funded statutory body, fund such an organisation? What is the basis for the Electoral Commission to provide public money to an organisation that indulges in electoral campaigning - and of campaigning of this particularly vitriolic (and, I believe, overtly racist) form?
The OBV organisation have not registered as a ‘third party’ organisation. How are their activities and expenditures regulated? It would seem to me you (The Electoral Commission) are funding an organisation that is flouting the regulations - regulations that you yourselves are required to enforce.
I refer you to an article in The Evening Standard, on the 20th February 2008, by Nick Cohen:
Labour, the Conservatives, Greens and the Liberal Democrats support it [Operation Black Vote]. The Electoral Commission support it, too, through the taxpayers’ money various Whitehall ministries pump into the “non-party political” campaign group.
Unfortunately, Lee Jasper is its chair and the destruction of high purposes and public trust seems to follow that gentleman with a wearisome inevitability. The OBV campaign has been hijacked and turned into a vehicle for Ken Livingstone. If you doubt me, listen to Jasper in a recent interview with the Voice:
“I am going to be working hard with Operation Black Vote and a host of other organisations to register as many of our people to vote,” he told the black paper. Fair enough - the organisation exists to increase turnout. But, he continued, black voters should vote for only one man. “I think people see that the other candidates don’t have substantive policy positions on any of the major issues. Ken, standing on his record and his manifesto, will be declared the candidate of choice.”
Readers of the Voice - or of the attacks on critics of Jasper on the Operation Black Vote website - can’t doubt that this supposedly nonpartisan campaign is endorsing Livingstone, and that everything about its turn into party politics is wrong.
The law requires organisations wishing to influence the outcome of an election to register as “Third Parties” with the Electoral Commission and account for their spending. Operation Black Vote has not registered.
Meanwhile, rival parties see that the pressure group they helped in good faith is now a “Re-elect Ken” campaign, while taxpayers are forced yet again to wonder why their money is going astray.
I believe there is a very real danger that The Electoral Commission could lose all credibility as a statutory authority, and therefore this needs to be dealt with as a matter of some urgency. There are, without doubt, some very serious legal issues arising from the activities of the OBV organisation - and of its funding arrangements.
I await your response with considerable interest.