Over the weekend it emerged that thousands of UK households have received a postal vote guide implying that they should use their postal vote to vote Remain in the referendum. Initially reports named Bristol City Council as the main guilty party in distributing the biased voting guides but since then it has emerged that hundreds of thousands of these forms have been sent out across the country.
With the Electoral Commission withdrawing the forms and urging councils to remake any of their voting guides, one has to ask whether it is not a case of too little, too late. Indeed, the very fact that no one at the (supposedly neutral) commission saw a voting guide which explicitly led voters as being a potential controversy casts serious doubts on both their competence and their neutrality.
In a referendum which has been frequently accused of being a case of the establishment vs the people, a scandal such as this is likely to play directly into the hands of Leave campaigners. The Electoral Commission should never have allowed this to go out, if a voter guide at a general election had suggested which party to vote for there would be serious doubts over their ability to be an impartial guarantor. Such an error is unheard of and deeply concerning.
So what do you think? An honest mistake or something more sinister? A biased guide or is everyone overreacting? I leave those decisions up to you. As far as I’m concerned, whatever the reasoning behind the guides, such incompetence is a worrying sign as we move closer to the referendum.