Tory hypocrisy over use of online balloting

A tale of two elections


The London mayoral contest

Zac Goldsmith was selected today as the Conservative’s mayoral candidate by an online ballot.

The Richmond Park and North Kingston MP won with 70 per cent of the 9,227 votes cast using an online primary system.

There were no reports of irregularities.


The Trade Union Bill

The government won’t allow union members to vote online during strike ballots on the grounds that it is “not safe”.

This, despite the fact that a recent Speaker’s Commission on digital democracy for parliament recommended that by 2020 secure online voting should be an option for all voters.

Many companies already use online voting to let shareholders vote in corporate ballots.


It looks a lot like one rule for the Tories and another for trade unionists.


James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

18 Responses to “Tory hypocrisy over use of online balloting”

  1. Mark Myword

    Electing Zac Goldsworth as a candidate for a private organisation (the Conservative Party), who will then stand in a ballot which is NOT run on line, is quite different from balloting on strike action. The strike ballot provides immunity to strikers for breach of their contracts of employment, and immunity to the union for any liability for tortious damages caused to those innocent parties who suffer because of the strike. These immunities are a considerable legal privilege, not available to any other section of society, the process for awarding them should be as secure as possible.

  2. blarg1987

    Yet PLC’s have on-line balloting and can cause severe damage to the economy based on policy decisions and individuals who are voted in.

    However no concern has been raised over this concern with regards to on-line balloting.

    The article has a valid point, the argument is hipper critical unless applied to all ballots.

  3. janlog

    It is basically saying that in some way the union will manipulate its members’ votes, ie trade unions are deeply untrustworthy, unlike all other votes cast using an on line system.
    More Tory propaganda to add to the pile.

  4. Sean Garrity

    Tories hypocritical?
    Surely not, you will be telling us the Pope is a Catholic next.

  5. David Lindsay

    I don’t know why Zac Goldsmith bothers with elective politics. He could just buy a tabloid, which would give him far more influence.

    Still, he was expelled from Eton, so he cannot be all that bad. And he is a Vane-Tempest grandson; that bloke on the horse in Durham Marketplace is one of his mother’s ancestors. It is just a pity that he is not as pro-coal as his father was.

  6. Mark Myword

    PLCs do not obtain legal immunities for their actions. If they cause damage they can be sued.


    At least the good old days of putting the ballot chits in a cardboard box is over and the ballot scrutineers turning their backs whilst the committee members stuffed the box with chits of those absent or on holiday to benefit their chosen pal.

  8. Keith M

    Tories do not believe in democracy, never have and never will.

  9. Mo

    No online ballot is secure. All elections should be by traditional means.


    They do get elected by people. Does that mean that those who vote for them are not democrats?

  11. blarg1987

    How Many PLC’s have been sued for closing down businesses to offshore them just to save money resulting in large scale damage to the regional economy?

    And remind me how many have been sued again for crippling the UK economy following the financial crisis?

  12. northwing

    The Tories are also refusing to allow workplace ballots, demanding a far higher threshold and turnout that they are willing to accept themselves (they are even contemplating handing fire services over to Police and Crime Commissioners who were elected on a turnout of less than 15% in some cases, whilst demanding the likes of the FBU gain a 40% of the eligible vote in favour of industrial action), demanding re-ballots, limiting picketing and charging unions for the costs of any investigations into alleged irregularities.

    They are also intending to legalise hiring strike-breakers, bringing in legislation to undermine union funding and limiting the unions’ right to campaign against them. If they could get away with banning unions and strikes they would, of that there is no doubt.

    It seems they will tolerate no opposition whatsoever and along with their tolerance of trade unionist blacklisting by donor organisations, their reported aim of establishing Tory unions has a rather chilling echo of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront.

  13. JAMC

    No method of voting is completely secure – and postal voting is one of the least secure methods of all.

    Electronic voting, properly implemented, would be a considerable improvement in terms of security. But then, this isn’t about actually raising turnout, is it… This is about gerrymandering the law on strikes to make them near-impossible.

    I for one am with Len McCluskey – if this change in the law goes ahead, I have no intention of obeying it.

  14. JAMC

    To quote Blackadder III…

    “Look at Manchester, population 60,000, electoral roll 3.”


    The trade unions should be encouraging members to vote. Less than 50% voting especially to strike seems rather onerous.

  16. Dave Stewart

    I completely agree. If this passes, which I expect it will it is pretty clear that there will be civil disobedience in response. The reason trade union activity was made legal was to prevent completely wild cat illegal strikes (which could often turn violent from both the employer and TU side) by giving people a legitimate legal method of expressing their concerns and bargaining with their employers. Making it harder to strike legally will not prevent the causes of strikes and therefore will not end industrial unrest. It will simply criminalise formerly law abiding trade unionist. If you are already breaking the law just being on strike what difference would it make if you formed an illegal picket and intimidated people (you’re breaking the law anyway) from crossing just like in the good old days.

  17. JAMC

    Trade unions do encourage their members to vote – and they usually encourage them in the same way that the ballot is conducted; i.e. by post. Reliance on one-way communication via post for both informing the electorate and conducting the ballot is a sure-fire recipe for a low turnout.

    If you want a 50% validity clause, all I ask in return is that the same rule apply to things that are at least equally as onerous – like, oh I don’t know, selecting the people to parliament who decide the laws we have to live under, for example.

  18. JAMC

    If it passes, I suspect the long-term implication of such a law would be a reduction in the number of official strikes, but a corresponding increase in the quantity of corporate and industrial sabotage.

Leave a Reply