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Stop the Votes: Conservative MP Calls for Postal Vote Ban After Huge Local Election Defeats

The call follows a series of attempts by the Conservative party to change the electoral system to their benefit

Rishi Sunak with defeated Conservative London mayoral candidate Susan Hall. Photo: Associated Press / Alamy

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A Conservative MP has called for postal voting to be banned, after his party suffered its worst local election defeat in forty years.

Right-wing former Conservative Cabinet Office Minister Brendan Clarke Smith made the call on Tuesday, following a weekend in which his party suffered huge defeats in both local council elections, a parliamentary by-election and multiple Mayoral contests.

The call for a ban on postal votes follows the spread on social media of a series of false far-right conspiracy theories suggesting that Sadiq Khan had somehow won re-election through harvesting postal votes.

Clarke-Smith’s call could backfire, however. An Oxford University study from last year found that supporters of left-leaning candidates are the least likely to vote by post. 

This has been seen in successive elections, including the 2012 London mayoral elections, where Labour’s then-candidate Ken Livingstone won the popular vote on the day but lost to Boris Johnson due to postal votes.

Clarke-Smith’s call follows other recent seemingly failed attempts to change the electoral system to benefit the Conservatives.

Last week’s local elections were among the first to be fought with the Government’s Voter ID law in place.

The restriction, which requires voters to bring one of a series of approved photographic IDs in order to vote, was brought in by Johnson’s government as an attempt to “gerrymander” elections in their favour, according to the former Brexit Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg. 


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However, while there was little immediate sign that the new system had stemmed the scale of the Conservatives’ losses last Thursday, it did lead to one Conservative MP and the former Prime Minister Johnson, being initially blocked from voting. Others affected by the rules included an army veteran and the wife of a Telegraph columnist.

Last week’s London mayoral elections were also the first to be fought under the First Past the Post voting system – a move which critics suggested was another attempt by the Conservative government to make it easier for them to win back London’s City Hall.

However, while those around Khan feared the change in electoral system would hurt his chances, evidence from the results suggest that it instead led to an increase in tactical voting for the incumbent, who ended up significantly increasing his own majority.

Asked later about Brendan Clarke-Smith’s proposal, Rishi Sunak’s spokesman replied that, “We want to ensure that democracy is accessible to as many people as possible and postal voting is an important part of ensuring that as many people as possible are able to vote”

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