Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Union postal vote applications go straight onto Labour's computer system

I was taking a look at 'Unions Together' earlier on this morning. In case you weren't aware, that is the operating name of TULO, the Trades Unions and Labour Party Liaison Organisation. They are currently taking part in the Wythenshawe & Sale East by-election despite not being registered with the Electoral Commission, but that is another matter. TULO is located - according to their website - at 1 Brewer's Green, London SW1H 0RH, which is also - coincidentally - the registered address of the Labour Party.

On their website, they feature a section called 'Make your voice heard' to make sure that you are registered to vote, and which allows you to apply for a postal vote. For voter registration, it helpfully encourages people to hold voter registration drives, and supplies materials including voter registration posters in Polish. No, really.

Of more interest is the postal vote application. When you follow the link, it invites you to select your union and download a postal voting form. The unions features are ASLEF, Community, CWU, GMB, TSSA, UCATT, Unison, UNITE and Unity. Clicking on the union link will bring up a pdf document with a postal voting application and a pre-printed address label. All of the forms have the appropriate union's logo displayed in the top right hand corner, but otherwise are pretty standard. Except for one thing. In the bottom left corner is a data protection disclaimer permitting the union to use the details you have supplied to contact you in the future.

So, having filled out the form in blissful ignorance of this, you then send it to the address on the pre-printed reply label:

Nothing particularly controversial there, you might think. Except that if you Google that address, you find that the National Communications Centre is actually the National Communications Centre for the Labour Party.

So what does this mean? It means that every single postal vote gathered by the unions ends up on the database of the Labour Party even before it is submitted to the Electoral Registration Officer in the constituency concerned. As the form also asks for phone numbers and e-mail addresses this is undoubtedly quite useful for another organisation which operates from the same address, the Labour Party Contact Creator software team, which promises:

Of course, they suggest that it will 'allow the Labour Party to meet the challenges of the 21st Century'. Others might suggest that it will 'allow the Labour Party to circumvent the Data Protection Act while breaching the spirit of electoral legislation and the Electoral Commission's guidelines on the handling of postal votes'.

TULO and Unions Together is noted as being promoted by Byron Taylor at the Brewer's Green address above. Byron Taylor is also a Labour councillor and Deputy Leader of the Labour Group on Basildon Council who is 'committed to Basildon' just two years after being Labour's candidate in Stoke on Trent at the general election.

Needless to say, the Unions Together website is hosted - outside the UK, of course! - by Blue State Digital, who are also responsible for Labour's online presence and help Hope not Hate evade VAT, as discussed previously.

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