Why have the key by-election records “gone missing”?
The Glenrothes by election last November was critical to the personal standing of the prime minister. The constituency is adjacent to Gordon’s, both he and his wife campaigned there, and the Labour candidate and now MP was the head of the school where Gordon went.
The fact that the Prime Minister became so associated with the Labour campaign was highly unusual and was seen as a big political risk. The only opinion poll suggested that the party was neck and neck with the SNP.
The result was a sensation. A majority for Labour far in excess of what anybody was predicting and, as was pointed out at the time, there was the massive increase in postal votes compared with what happened in May 2005.
This was a high profile political event that added considerably to the momentum that Brown was then building up following his initial handling of the bank bailout.
So what’s happened to the marked register – the list of those who actually voted which is open to inspection? For anything to do with this election to have “gone missing” simply provides ammunition for conspiracy theorists.
This is particularly the case because the result itself was so unexpected. The SNP calls for an inquiry could become another difficult issue for Labour.
I’ve been associated with many elections over several decades and I have never known a marked register to have been lost like this.