There is a growing swell of discontent and rumour in relation to the probity of the election in Oldham. Farage was on Radio 4 this morning quoting 99% of vote-blocks being Labour, and elsewhere suggestions have been made about fraud and personation - the validity of many thousands of postal votes.
Sadly, the authorities do not enjoy even a half-decent record of maintaining electoral probity, particularly in areas with high Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations. The Met Police and the Electoral Commission failed utterly in Tower Hamlets and it took four ordinary electors to reverse the corruption.
I have no idea whether the vote in Oldham was corrupt or not. There is no evidence. All we have are opinions. However, this is a poisonous boil that must be lanced; the poll must be fully investigated, preferably by an external police force, and with specialist independent lawyers assisting the Electoral Commission. If the result was sound and valid, we should be assured. If it was not, appropriate corrective measures must be taken.
But one choice the authorities don't have is to leave the rumour and accusations to fester unchallenged; the robustness of our democracy depends not only on the probity of the process but in our confidence that the system is not corrupt.