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Leading article The Week

‘Do as we say’ won’t do

The Spectator on the Afghan elections

9 September 2009

12:00 AM

9 September 2009

12:00 AM

The Afghans would be entitled to feel a little aggrieved at the way the West has criticised their ‘fraudulent’ elections. Doubtless Hamid Karzai rigged the system to get the result he wanted, but in doing so, he was following a fine European tradition. The United Nations are suspicious that Karzai’s share of the vote was, in some areas, 100 per cent. But wasn’t this precisely same result Gordon Brown achieved when he was ‘elected’ Labour party leader after his character assassins had dissuaded all potential rivals from standing? Karzai may well have more support in his country than our leader does in ours. After all, no one outside Fife has ever cast a vote for the prime minister, and at the last Euro elections just 6 per cent of registered voters supported Labour. The rest of Europe has just as little right to criticise Afghanistan. The EU marches towards the ‘ever closer union’ by the simple device of holding and reholding elections until it gets the result it wants. Ireland’s second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in October is a case in point.

At least the Irish are being asked. Britain has been denied even that, despite all three parties promising a vote in their manifestos. Our ‘yes’ literally lies in a vault in Rome, sent there by Labour whips instructed by a prime minister who lacks a proper mandate to govern.

The murkiest postal ballot fraud in Britain is, of course, nowhere near the scale of the blatant ballot-selling in Afghanistan — but we have far less of an excuse for it. If we’re going to champion democracy, we must practise it properly first.


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