The end of the campaign

Got to bed last night aching badly. First the leafleting, then the door knocking to bring out the promised votes, and finally the count. This time it was at the Handsworth Leisure Centre where three counts went on simultaneously. Half past twelve and we were still waiting for an announcement. The untried computers had failed to verify the postal votes in the stepped up battle to prevent fraudulent voting.
It was clear when we left before the declaration that Labour and the Tories were battling it out in Handsworth Wood with Labour slightly ahead. The postal vote could be decisive.
During the day there the Tories had been in evidence. They were quite friendly though since it was clear to them that it was in their interest for us to do well! Opposite where we had our HQ we could see our own supporters joined by a Tory brigade. In the morning there were women who had come along in a Mercedes, but in the afternoon they were joined by a rowdy bunch of youths who yelled at people to support the Sikh candidate, not he white man. The police turned up in some force clearly not wanting a re-run of the violence which had erupted in Handsworth Park a couple of weeks ago. Among those who appeared was Sewa Singh Mandla. He is, or has been, President of the Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham, and was present at the selection meetings of Handsworth Wood Labour Party on two occasions when I stood. The first time I beat Arjan (Parmjit) Singh, while on the second when all candidates were up Parmjit won bringing with him Gurdial Singh Atwal and Paulette Hamilton. They both owe Parmjit and Sewa Singh their good fortune. Since Mandla is (or was) a member of the Labour Party it was interesting to see him in the line up of Tories yesterday (3/4/2007)
We have an interesting document in our hands suggesting that at least three Gurdwara council members instructed their members to support the Sikh (Tory on this occasion) candidate. This is clearly what happened. A former teaching colleague and (I thought) friend of mine turned up with a slip urging those turning up to vote for number 5, Mr Singh.
Many in the Sikh community are less than happy that the Gurdwara is being used for political purposes. Presumably they have charitable status and so the Charities Commission will have something to say about this abuse. Corruption it is, and it needs exposing for the good of us all.

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