Green candidates refuse to back Tory pledge

Green candidates refuse to back Tory pledge

GREENS standing in this month’s council elections have refused to back an anti-ballot fraud pledge.

They instead called on Tories, who proposed a ‘keep it clean’ campaign, to sign a council code of conduct – as they have done.

The row centres on claims from Conservatives in Dewsbury that the code does not go far enough.

Candidates in the town’s three council wards were asked last week to sign a separate pledge devised by the Tories.

This covers voter intimidation at polling stations, which they claim the code of conduct does not mention.

The council developed it after the last elections in 2012 were hit by claims of postal vote rigging, especially in Dewsbury South.

Green Party candidates across North Kirklees signed the council code but will not sign the Tory pledge.

A letter seen by The Press states the Greens are not aware of any voter intimidation where the police failed to act.

It was signed by candidates Adrian Cruden (Dewsbury South), Simon Cope (Dewsbury West) and Tony Kelsall (Dewsbury East).

Fellow Greens Garry Kitchin (Batley West), Robert Reynolds (Batley East) and Nick Whittingham (Mirfield) backed the letter.

Addressed to the Tory candidates in Dewsbury, it adds: “We have undertaken to sign the council’s code of conduct on postal voting.

“We are puzzled that your party has not done so, but instead has taken the step of writing to other candidates in only three wards out of 23 asking us to sign a letter which in many respects is similar, if not identical, to the code of conduct.

“The sole exception seems to be concerning intimidation of voters. As you know, intimidation is a criminal offence and we would undertake to call police at once in the event of witnessing it.

“Therefore we call on you to sign the code of conduct drawn up by the council. This is non-partisan and as far as we can see covers the postal vote concerns...”

The letter also states the Greens nationally warned postal voting, as set up by the last Labour government in 2004, was open to fraud.

It also accused the current Tory-led coalition of doing nothing to tighten those rules up.

The letter concludes: “We believe your party, our local Tory MP and the Tory-led Government are continuing badly to fail the people of our town and our country by not ensuring we have fair election arrangements and a definitively secret ballot, in spite of having four years now to have done so.

“Therefore we must politely decline to sign.”

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