In a bizarre state of affairs a debate was held today in the Priestman Buildings at Sunderland University.
First up was Doug Stewart, Head of Referendums at the Electoral Commission. We (at the No Campaign) had contacted John Elliott of NESNO to say that we would be there to offer him moral support. His debate was to begin at 12 noon, versus Julie Elliott of GMB who we had crossed swords with the night before.
John was running late and Colin Moran and I arrived at 11.30am just in time to ask Doug a few difficult questions of the Electoral Commission.
Doug, "Could you help fill in the four ballot papers that I have received?"
Doug, "Could you tell me why the Electoral Commission information packs arrived late?"
We were aware that they had also suffered printing problems similar to those they had witnessed during the shambolic European elections. Obviously an organisation funded with £41m of public money had not saw fit to make contingency plans either.
Doug passed the buck on the Ballot Papers and said it was the Returning Officers problem. How did Herron get four BP's?
John arrived and was told that a local Conservative was taking his place. We sat at the back chatting not realising that there was a drama taking place at the front.
Julie Elliott, GMB and Yes Campaign speaker, was on the phone to head office to say that the No Campaign had 'infiltrated the audience. Hardly undercover as we were the only ones who had suits on and had given the game away with our bald heads, but we were about to be asked to leave the debate otherwise she would'nt speak.
What Julie hadn't realised that because John wasn't speaking we had decided to go to our office, plus the BBC had just called to expose the four Ballot Paper scandal and they were coming as well.
Lead assembly story on the Assembly debate on BBC was ours...No campaign gets four ballot papers, exposing the all postal ballot fiasco.
Further revelations will be in the Sunderland Echo and Newcastle Journal tomorrow, and this week's Mail on Sunday.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
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