Like many, I grew up on Sterling tales of the British sense of fair play and incorrupt direct democracy; more recently Trevor Royle's 'Winds of Change - End of Empire in Africa' described how British District Officers and colonial administrators diligently travelled tens of thousands of miles in ancient Landys to the remotest parts of the Empire to teach the ordinary people how to vote for independence. With absolute fairness, and blackboard and symbols, they expounded to the men of the villages (with the women listening discreetly in the background) exactly how to mark their cross if they wanted to vote for the British to go. Every man could only vote once, even the head-man or Chief. The votes would all be honestly counted, and the British would abide by the result.
By and large we left them with a constitution, a new flag, a bicameral parliament complete with speaker in horsehair wig and bands, and a vague hope that less than a century of contact with the British way of doing things was enough to have sunk in.
Recent widespread electoral frauds in the UK, largely involving postal and proxy voting, and the unspeakable and malodorous practices unveiled in tonight's Standard, are very sadly concentrated in immigrant populations. It seems our way of doing things, our tradition of fair play, haven't got through.
Let me say this. This is something we won't shift on by one millimetre. These primitive third-world standards of democracy that may apply in Dhaka or Lagos have no place in Britain. And that Livingstone condones or orchestrates such corrupt filth in an effort to cling to office makes him no better than Mugabe and makes Labour truly Zanu Labour.
Yes, our electoral systems need an overhaul. The probity and transparency of our democracy is something every person, from left or right, should fight for.