There’s an orgy of election post mortem going on at the moment. A lot of people in the mainstream and the alternative media are bringing their own certitudes about ‘what went wrong’ yesterday and how the UK has somehow ended up with an elitist clown and his party of sleazy greed-merchants returned to office, after nine years of misrule, with a landslide majority.
The preferred explanations divide fairly predictably along ideological grounds.
The ‘liberal’ media – as in the person of repulsive champagne/Mi5 ‘socialist’ Polly Toynbee – naturally – blames Corbyn. They would, wouldn’t they?
With a lot more justice the alt-media blames bias in the mainstream. Well – yeah.
Brexiters blame Labour’s admittedly appalling performance on this issue. They claim the vote was swung by disgruntled Leavers in key seats. This is declared by many to be Corbyn’s fault, even though he seems pretty clearly to have been pressured into a muddy pro-2nd referendum stance against his own Euro-sceptic instincts.
Remainers also blame Labour’s Brexit performance, but they think Labour didn’t send a clear enough message on the issue (whatever that means). This is also largely declared to be Corbyn’s fault.
Views are tending to the absolutist and binary. There’s not much room at the moment for nuance or debate.
No one feels like recalling, for example, that more people voted against the Tories than for them (13.9mn for and 16.2mn against).
Or that 10.3 million people still voted Labour despite the entirety of the unprecedentedly vicious and Stalinist hate campaign conducted against them – and Corbyn in particular – since the latter became leader in 2015.
Which fact, along with Labour’s near-win in 2017 and the surprise Brexit victory in 2016, implies the mainstream media’s ability to direct and manipulate public opinion is a lot less wholesale and guaranteed than we oftentimes assume, and that this is unlikely to be a single explanation for yesterday’s result.
More importantly, no one – even those who are boggling at the implausibility – is questioning the validity of the result.
It’s as if even suggesting election fraud can happen in a nice majority-white western country like the UK is improper and disrespectful. Election fraud is – as every good racist knows – done by brown people or Orientals, or ‘corrupt’ eastern European nations, not by fine upstanding empire builders like the British.
This seems to be so much of a given that the results of any vote are simply accepted as 100% valid – no matter how improbable they may seem.
And apparently even in the face of clear evidence for at least some level of shady activity.
Remember this? It only happened on Wednesday but it’s already some way down the Memory Hole.
Laura Kuenssberg, being the true idiot she really is, blabbing off on prime time telly about apparently institutional election malpractice – and not even having the basic brains to see the import of what she’s letting slip.
There’s been a lot of effort expended in minimising the significance of this in social media and in the mainstream press – and indeed by resident trolls on OffG. There have been claims it’s ‘routine’ – as if that somehow makes it ok. Or that Kuenssberg was misinformed, or ‘tired’.
Beyond the smoke, though, things remain starkly clear. There are three choices.
- Someone illegally and improperly accessed ballot papers prior to the count and before close of poll.
- Someone pretended they had and fed disinfo to Kuenssberg who committed a felony by broadcasting it.
- Kuenssberg lied.
It obviously must raise the question – how do we know the ballot papers are just being looked at? Are we supposed to just take it on faith that these people allegedly “routinely” breaking the law to look, will feel obligated to stop there?
But that’s just an intro to a much bigger question. The question. The one we are not supposed to ask.
Before going there let me put a case to you. A thought experiment as ‘twere.
Imagine that Assad had behaved like Johnson during the last presidential election. Imagine his bizarre election ‘campaign’ consisted almost solely of photo-ops and interviews in which he and members of his family display their evilness and idiocy over and over and over again in an almost ritualistic statement of contempt for their voting public.
But still got elected. On an increased majority.
Imagine the day before polling day in Russia a journalist from TASS accidentally lets slip that the postal ballot papers have already – and illegally – been seen, and predict a landslide for Putin. A landslide then transpires, despite the fact he has become universally despised.
What would our own state-controlled and corporate media be saying about this?
More important, what would you feel perfectly free to say about this?
So why don’t you feel free to say it now?
Please don’t get me wrong here. I am not by any means claiming the December 12 election was rigged. I’m not equipped to make any such claim. I have seen very little hard evidence to suggest it and I don’t even know, currently, if it would even be possible.
My point is the double standard and elision.
Vladimir Putin’s election is automatically dismissed as fixed by the entire western media, even though it shows far fewer irregularities than many recent US presidential elections. Assad’s election likewise. If the events of the last few weeks in the UK had been happening in Russia, we all know what the media would be saying, and what many of our readers would be saying too.
What would be taken as clear fraud (even if it actually wasn’t) if it happened in a non-imperial state is not subject to the same analysis when it happens here. For some reason, we are debarred, and debar ourselves, from even considering this possibility in relation to western countries, even when it looks more than plausible. And this censorship seems to be based simply on geography and race.
Signs that societally would be read as clear evidence of a rigged vote in Syria, Russia, Venezuela or Iran, are not seen as such when they happen here in the ‘civilised’ western world.
Laura Kuenssberg’s idiotic announcement of casual criminality in the electoral process might have been just a stupid lie, hers or someone else’s. But even if it was it betrays a disturbing lack of respect for boundaries and legalities behind the scenes. And if it wasn’t a lie then – what?
As I mentioned once already – if people can and do illegally access ballot papers prior to the close of polling and commencement of the count, how far does this access go? Who actually counted those postal votes? Where did they do it? What happened to the ballot papers after having been illegally viewed and counted? Do we just assume they eventually found their way to a ballot box as they should?
We all saw the piles of ballot papers left uncounted during the Democratic primaries. We know those discarded votes could have made the difference between a Sanders victory or defeat. We all heard the stories of registered Democrats denied the chance to even vote by ‘bureaucratic oversights’. And we know the DNC basically rigged the primaries for Hillary Clinton.
We also know the 2000 presidential election was – at best – concluded dubiously when the count in Florida seems to have been interfered with.
Again, if we’d seen something similar unfold in Russia, the unavoidable conclusion would have been electoral fraud.
Despite all this though, and due to our own innate pro-western bias, we still refuse to acknowledge the bare possibility of electoral corruption.
This is not a natural limitation on debate, imposed by reason and analysis. It’s a form of censorship or self-censorship rooted in, what? A lifetime of subliminal propaganda about the West’s free and fair elections? An atavistic colonialism that still operates and makes us convinced beyond reason that wholesale corruption of that magnitude is simply impossible in the Mother of Democracy?
Consider the facts…
Labour’s socialist policies are known to be popular. Poverty has increased so much under the Tories that 22% of the country now lives below the poverty line, including 4 million children. 200,000 people have died as a result of austerity-driven cuts, foodbank use is increasing by tens of thousands year on year. The mortality rate is going up and up. And Boris Johnson was caught in a direct, proven lie about “protecting” the NHS.
And after all this, Labour heartlands – red since World War 2, through Thatcher and Foot and every anti-Labour hate campaign the media could muster – all voted Conservative?
Does that seem likely?
I don’t know, all I do know is I think that discussion needs to start. I think it’s time to think the unthinkable, and at least open the prospect of electoral fraud up for real discussion.
How secure is our electoral process? Can results be stage-managed, massaged or even rigged? What guarantees do we have that this can’t happen here? In an age of growing corruption and decay at the very top, do the checks and balances placed to safeguard our democracy sill work well, or even at all?
This Friday the Thirteenth, with BoJo the Evil Clown back in Downing Street, looks like a good moment to get it going.