Thursday, 27 February 2014


ONE of the reasons I've taken to the intent with my blog Named, Blamed and Shamed, is to get people to think and to do their own research. In fact it's the main reason.

My thinking is quite straightforward. I know that when people do their own digging they'll come to the same conclusions as me.

So when I did my blog piece recently on the threatening letters sent out to people like me who refuse to register to vote, I was delighted that JAMES CAMPBELL not only read it but started thinking about it. Better than that, he's written a guest blog. Here you go . . .

by JAMES CAMPBELL, Guest Blogger

It’s been just under a year since I published anything on my blog and even then it was a set of
photos somebody else had taken.  Between then and now I’ve been minded to write a number of things but life has generally interrupted me in one way or the other.

Anyway one of my Facebook friends has just started a new blog (Brilliant read:

coming from a great background I was looking forward to what he had to say and the first thing I saw was the header:


Straight away this was bang onto one of my hot buttons.  It seems that Durham County Council has sent my friend a rather sternly worded letter.  The main message is this:

“You need to be on the electoral register to vote in all UK elections and referendums. You are not automatically registered even if you pay council tax. If you receive a request for your registration information from your local electoral registration office then you are legally obliged to respond. If you do not respond, or if you provide false information, then you could receive a £1,000 fine.”

I’ll come back to this bit later…….

Next they end on the bombshell:

“This will prevent them from voting at elections . . . and could affect them financially, as many finance companies use the electoral register to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit.”

Whoa there!  Hang the fuck on!

Having worked in finance since 1999 and in lending for over nine years this annoyed me to say the least.  After all the Government have been very critical of lenders and banks who make sweeping inaccurate statements like this.

While the words themselves are factual, the context in which they are set implies that not being on the Electoral Register will adversely affect your finances.  This is blatant bollocks.

Yes many finance houses do use an Electoral Register search as part of a credit bureau check to confirm an applicant is resident at the address they have stated in their application.

However it’s not the end of the world if they are not on the Electoral Register.  Normally a loan, credit card or mortgage applicant will have another active credit account placing them at their address including but not limited to: Current Account, Personal Loan, Credit Card, Mortgage or Mobile Telephone Contract.  All of which are perfectly valid means of confirming residency, and meet Money Laundering requirements.  If you have one of these then your application won’t even be slowed up, you probably won’t even notice the difference.

If you don’t have any of these things you may be asked for some more information.  This will normally be a piece of personal identification such as a passport or driving licence accompanied by two items of address confirmation such as a bank statement or utility bill.  If you’re applying for something online or over the phone it might be a bit inconvenient as you will have to send in your ID, but if you’ve gone down to the bank in personally to apply chances are you may have this stuff to hand anyway, particularly as you are asked to bring this sort of stuff to appointments.

Anyway, enough of that rant.  The other thing on Harry’s letter that got me thinking was the bit that said:

“You are not automatically registered even if you pay council tax. If you receive a request for your registration information from your local electoral registration office then you are legally obliged to respond. If you do not respond, or if you provide false information, then you could receive a £1,000 fine.”

OK,  I knew that payment of Council Tax didn’t get you on the register but was I was only vaguely aware of was that they threatened prosecution for not providing them with information when they ask for it.  This is not some Council imposed fixed penalty but an actual court backed fine which will also result in you being provided with a criminal record.

Now this bit surprised me as it’s not even new. As part of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (relevant section here: ) the local authority is required to undertake a canvass of residents to ensure that everyone of voting age is registered to vote.

Now there are probably lots of good reasons why they would want to do this:

To make sure everyone who wants to, has a chance to vote.

To allow those standing for election to communicate with the electorate.

Maybe even to corroborate census information and inform decisions on healthcare funding, council budgets and other sensible things…. (come on Campbell this is Government and politics, where does common sense fit in?)

OK here’s the biggie, it’s NOT illegal if you’re not on the Electoral Register but for some reason it’s been enshrined in law that if they write to you or knock on your door and ask for your details to put you on the register it IS illegal for you to refuse or give false information (How very democratic eh?).

So issues with this:

What if I don’t want to vote?  Apparently they need to know who is eligible to vote so they know who’s abstaining, well bloody hell, not rocket science, I’m in the system you know everything about me, so if you know I ain’t registered, which you blatantly do, if you’re chasing me to register then you know I ain’t voting.

I don’t want to be on the register because you sell the information to third parties for marketing and other things. The standard response here is that you can opt out of the full register.  Wanna know how to get round this if you want someone’s details?  Tell them you’re standing for election and they’ll give you all the electoral information you want to have.  Anyone who is eligible to stand can obtain them and once obtained there is no control over the copies you could make.  My question would be why the hell would a candidate even need the electoral details of everyone in their ward or district?  I mean seriously?  Think about it, you bung out a tonne of leaflets addressed (if at all) to The Occupier.  Why do they need the detailed personal information?

So seriously, why do they really want my information? Well apart from another means of tracking me and selling my information it validates their corrupt system.  They know that if they didn’t force people to be on the register then about half the electorate wouldn’t bother.

To be honest being on the Electoral Register is to me only marginally preferable to being on another register….

So, how to avoid being put on the register? The day after I read Harry’s blog I was lucky enough to be on a training course with a former magistrate and a former solicitor (yes I did say lucky).  I posed the question to them, of what an acceptable defence would be to a charge of refusing to register.  Both agreed that the intent to refuse to register would be the key.

So, since all their mail is currently sent to “The Householder” you can safely bin it along with all the other junk mail.  However they’re currently reforming the rules around the electoral canvass to change the “old fashioned” way of the head of the household registering everyone (apparently lots of heads of households nick the voting cards for the other people living there and vote on their behalf).  What will happen instead is that each individual eligible to vote will be contacted and a fixed penalty for non-registration will apply.

So now you’ve ignored their letters, you assumed it to be junk mail and I dare say they’d have a hard job proving you open and screen letters addressed vaguely to the householder.  I mean I bin that sort of shite from Virgin and Sky daily.  What next?

Well they’ll send a snotty canvassing officer to your door; you can guarantee they’ll send them at the most inconvenient time.  The trick is to be vigilant, as you should be with any cold caller.  Before you acknowledge who you are, get them to tell you who they are.  Once that’s out of the way just deny that you live there, give them any old flannel, babysitter etc. The bad news is that it won’t end there, they’ll keep coming and at some point, unless you hide from them enough they’ll see through the shite and start with the threats of getting a police officer to come and ask for the information.  Because they have a uniform and a badge you have to give it BUT only because at that time you would be under suspicion of committing an offence (dicking the canvassing officer about, yeah I know that’s not the official term but I’ll gladly give my name to an officer who phrases it like that).

So eventually you come to a point of give the name and make them go away or refuse and be fined.  There is actually some cases evidence of this happening and in the summing up in the examples below magistrates give the justification for the fine as reimbursing the public purse for the time you have wasted those in office who’ve been trying to gather the details.

So it seems at this point you have to make a decision whether you’re content with having dicked them about or whether you can afford to keep pushing them.  For me, I cannot afford the fine financially and potentially the criminal record may mean I’d lose my job so that’s where it would end.  Kudos to Mr Thomas Brumwell of Meadway, I seriously hope he keeps it up.


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