The LibDems have written to the Labour Party and Staffordshire Police after it emerged a Labour activist has sent text messages to Muslim voters warning them to vote for Gareth Snell or “answer for this in the Grave and on the Final Day”. The LibDem letter:
I am writing about several text messages reported to us by members of the public which appear to be distributed in large numbers in support of your candidate and your campaign.
I am concerned by these text messages for two reasons, firstly about the Representation of the People Act 1983 and secondly about the ‘Guidance on political campaigning‘ issued by the Information Commissioners Office.
1 – I am sure that you realise that the religious nature of one of these messages could also be deemed to be covered by the ruling on “undue spiritual influence” in the matter of a mayoral election for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets held on 22 May 2014 when the Labour Party were the victims of such tactics.
2 – These text messages are clearly election material in support of your candidate Gareth Snell as they meet the criteria for an elections expense set out in section 90ZA (6) of the Representation of the People Act “In this Part and in Part 3 of this Act, any reference (in whatever terms) to promoting or procuring a candidate’s election at an election includes doing so by prejudicing the electoral prospects of another candidate at the election”. They are clearly aimed at stopping people voting for my candidate Dr Zulfiqar Ali as well as others.
3 – I am sure that you are aware that such text messages under the ICO guidance should only be sent where the individual has consented to contact of that sort from the organisation for those purposes. Therefore, we have serious concerns about the origin of access to these phone numbers and whether the necessary permissions and opt out procedures have been followed…
Ian Horner, Election Agent
CC: David Mullington, Staffordshire Police; Fiona Ledden, Acting Returning Officer; Gina Jones, Electoral Services, Stoke-on-Trent City Council
As the LibDems say, this looks like Lutfur Rahman levels of spiritual influence…