Revealed: Ed’s night-time dash to casa Brand driven by postal ballot panic

by Atul Hatwal

Uncut has learned the real reason for Ed Miliband’s sudden night-time visit to Russell Brand’s Shoreditch home: panic caused by the early tallies of postal ballots being fed back to party HQ, from marginals around the country.

Labour is behind and urgently needs to reach out to new voter groups. Russell Brand was a means to that end.

Postal voting started in mid-April. Over 5 million are expected to cast their ballot in this way and over the last week, local teams from all parties have attended postal vote opening sessions in each constituency.

Although the parties are legally not allowed to tally votes at these events, they all do and the constituency teams then dutifully pass their field intelligence back to HQ.

These are not opinion polls results or canvass returns but actual votes, hundreds of thousands of votes, from across Britain. Numbers have been flowing from each marginal to party strategists to give the most accurate picture of the current state of play.

Labour insiders familiar with the latest figures have told Uncut that the picture for Labour in marginal seats, where it is fighting the Tories, is almost uniformly grim.

Seats that canvass returns had suggested were strong prospects for gains are much more finely balanced and those that were close are swinging heavily to the Tories.

The tartan scare is working with the fear of McLabour shifting large numbers of wavering Lib Dems and Ukippers into the Tory column.

National opinion polls and Lord Ashcroft’s last swathe of constituency polling have seemed to indicate a shift towards the Tories recently, but Labour insiders say the effect on the ground in marginals is much bigger than picked up in polls so far.

Labour has already squeezed the Greens as much as possible for votes, and is coming up short. Despite a superior get-out-the-vote operation primed and ready for next Thursday, Labour cannot bridge the gap by organisation alone.

With just a few days to go until the election, Labour desperately needs new voters.

This is why Ed Miliband suddenly changed his plans and went to Russell Brand’s home to be interviewed.

Even though Labour’s press team advised that this would wipe-out Ed Balls’ planned offensive the next day on Tory tax plans and dominate media coverage, potentially for days, the decision was made to go ahead with the interview.

The rationale was that beyond the direct reach of Brand via his YouTube channel, and the millions that follow him on Twitter, the media discussion about Miliband’s interview would send a clear signal to young people and non-voters that Labour’s leader was different; that he would listen to them and engage with their concerns.

Whether Brand gave Labour an endorsement or didn’t (in the end he didn’t and backed Caroline Lucas and the Greens for Brighton Pavillion) was less important than sending this signal.

Given the intelligence that Lib Dems and Ukippers were already switching to the Tories, there was comparatively little downside to the choice with an upside that the story was the highest profile way to tip disaffected non-voters into voting Labour.

The tactic is logical, but speaks to an epic failure of strategy by Labour.

With just a few days left before polling, the party finds itself scrambling to reach non-voters; it is attempting to compress the work of years of engagement into less than a week, to save the election. Few expect this last minute gamble to yield any returns.

The very thin silver lining to the disastrous postal ballot field reports is Scotland: while the position in is bad, it is not the total meltdown suggested by the polls.

The opinion polls deal with Scotland as a whole where the huge reserves of SNP support in places like Glasgow deliver blow-out figures that suggest almost every Labour MP will lose their seat. However on a constituency basis, the distribution of support is much more even and Labour is competitive in seats that the polls suggest are lost.

According to the postal ballot reports, over half of Labour’s seats are genuinely winnable.

This is why so many Labour resources have been moved north of the border and the party has pivoted its campaign towards Scotland.

In recent days, Ed Miliband has been up in Scotland answering Tory charges about a future deal with the SNP, partially to try to address the problems in English seats, albeit far too late to have a major impact, but principally, to nationalise the Scottish campaign.

For disaffected Labour voters, the choice is being presented as Labour or Tory for the government of Britain where a vote for the SNP would just let the Tories in. For Tory and Lib Dem voters, the choice is between a party committed to the union, Labour, and one opposed, the SNP, where only a vote for Labour will safeguard the union.

In both cases the national dimension is central and Ed Miliband’s presence in Scotland, as national leader, underpins this approach.

The past week has been bracing and ugly for Labour strategists. The postal ballot intelligence has destroyed any residual sense that Labour is winning this campaign.

The priority now is to narrow the loss – the Tories are likely to be the largest party but if Labour can save enough Scottish seats, the result might just be close enough for Labour to cobble together a rainbow coalition to deny the Tories government, even from second place.

If Labour cannot save sufficient numbers of Scottish seats and results in England are as bad as the postal ballots suggest, then there is the real prospect of Labour entering the next parliament with fewer seats than in 2010.

The last straw being clutched among the leader’s advisers is that Labour’s vote, its base which has been relentlessly targeted by canvassing teams, is disproportionately under-represented in postal ballots. It’s a hope shared by few outside of Ed Miliband’s most committed coterie.

The election campaign is nearly over. After the past week’s postal ballot reports, many previously optimistic senior Labour MPs and advisers fear the same is true for Labour’s chances of returning to government, even as a minority administration.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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72 Responses to “Revealed: Ed’s night-time dash to casa Brand driven by postal ballot panic”

  1. Madasafish says:

    I find it hard to believe a man who advises people not to vote will have many supporters who are registered to vote..

  2. Mike says:

    You are right that any message Labour wanted to get out these last few days have been overshadowed by a) the Brand interview, b) the no deal in any way with the SNP comment and c) the royal birth. The Tories are happy to let the clock timeout. Labour started strong in the campaign but the momentum has been with the Conservatives for the past 10 days or so. The polling shows this. Postal vote information is very interesting. Would like to hear more.
    If they are shifting resources up to Scotland this will mean they save some seats there but lose close marginal in England to the Conservatives, which help the Tories go from 275 or so they are on now to 290 or in that region. Which with LD and DUP support means they are very close.

  3. Paul says:

    It is going to be a very interesting election. A lot of different things could happen. Farage could fail to get elected and UKIP would then seriously flounder. Thereby increasing the Conservative % vote share. If Farage does get elected I still don`t think UKIP will grow any further. It is remarkable that UKIP has quadrupled their support and the Conservatives have only lost around2%.
    Labour could be in trouble because I would expect the Lib Dems to slowly gain support and that is mainly going to come from Labour. The Greens would dump Bennett and if they got a better leader (Lucas or someone else) then they could gain 1-2% which would only come from Labour or the Lib Dems.
    Also the next Boundary Commission is to be approved by 2018 which means newer, and more balanced boundaries are likely to be in place for the 2020 election. Again helping the Conservatives slightly.

  4. Jamie says:

    Postal votes are overwhelmingly used by older voters (65+) who swing Tory anyway, so postal vote returns tell us nothing outside of the demographic using them.

    Even if this story were true (which frankly I doubt), it would indicate precisely nothing other than ‘old people tend to vote Tory’, which is as true in the marginals as it is elsewhere.

  5. Mason says:

    Well it is a fact that the Tories benefit greatly from the so called “grey vote”.

    I’d have thought that older voters are more likely to vote by post.

    The hope that postal voting is unrepresentative of the wider picture may yet prove accurate.

  6. Juliet says:

    There is no such thing as ‘postal vote tallies’ so STFU

  7. James says:

    Complete rubbish.

    “Labour is pulling back from defending all the Scottish seats it holds and is focusing on 12 to 15 it thinks it has a chance of holding.”

    “Eleven days to go and Labour is working very hard to hold back the Sturge surge. One Shadow Cabinet member put their strategy for the next ten days to me like this: “We have to get 10 more seats in England than we look like we are getting, and lose 10 fewer seats in Scotland. In Scotland, it would be a really good night if we get to fifteen. It’s like we’re in a tsunami and we’re searching for the air pockets”.

    Some discussion in our office about whether they meant they were in an avalanche and were searching for air pockets, but this is what they said. Another senior Labour source said: “We will be cracking out the champagne if we keep 10 Labour seats. Realistically we are looking at three to six”.

    Into this mix comes reports from another Scotland source. They say that Labour have pulled their canvassing effort back into 10 seats in an effort to at least hold on to them. These will be the air pockets. ”

  8. Albert Zbingswiki says:

    Ahhh… what a shame. All those imported Muslim Postal Voters not working out for you? That’s dreadful. Shame we’ll all have to pay for it with our lives. Thanks, Labour.

  9. alexsandr says:

    looks like the immigrant postal vote isnt voting labour.

    and this wont help labours white core vote will it? hardly the best advert for a party thats supposed to espouse equality.

    milibands failure to acknowledge the overspending of the last labour government will have gone down with the part of the electorate that does not believe in the money tree. Hardly going to suggest labour is OK with the economy is it?

    and carry on believeing UKIP is only a tory problem. remember you nearly lost heywood.

    reality time folks…

  10. Cath says:

    There would be no result worse for Scotland than a Tory win, with Scotland having sent down the usual 40+ supine, unionist Labour MPs who support the Tories over Scotland’s interests, and who’s main aim is to destroy the SNP and the groundswell of real, and positive change we have up here. The only party who can and will really stand up for Scotland against the Tories is the SNP: Labour agree with the Tories entirely about Scotland and our progress being a problem.

    Focusing on Scotland in a desperate attempt to “minimise Labour’s loss” risks exactly this result for Scotland. It doesn’t matter if we vote Labour: if England doesn’t, we get a Tory government, and a Labour one that supports it doing what it likes in Scotland. That’s exactly what happened in 2010. That result would be yet another massive kick in the teeth for people who have too loyally supported Labour.

    Labour should focus on winning in England, and work with the SNP in Scotland, not screw Scotland over yet again and leave us with a Tory government we can’t vote out without England also doing so. You put in this position by fighting for us to stay in it last year. Now you owe it to us to win in England and, if you can’t do that, let the SNP be the ones to fight our corner.

  11. paul m says:

    labour uncut is full of sad bitter “dan hodges” types who hate ed miliband. latest polls show neck and neck . everything the tories ,labour uncut throw at ed has no effect. even Murdoch is worried .

  12. Shade of Macaulay says:

    In my neck of the woods, the Returning Officer goes to great lengths to ensure that observers have no opportunity to see the marked votes as they are being opened and verified. I’d be surprised if other Returning Officers don’t follow suit.

  13. william says:

    In the final analysis, it is rather telling that the Tories could wheel out John Major, a PM who won the most votes ever cast for a single party,and that Gordon Brown is nowhere to be seen, having delivered Scotland to the SNP, an extreme left wing party, that is held in utter contempt by Labour and Tory MPs in England,and rightly so.

  14. David says:

    I always understood that postal votes were counted at the same time as the normal vote.

    Love him or loathe him the guy does tend to know what he is talking about

    If what you are saying is even slightly accurate (and I read you regularly and respect your integrity) then the sooner this atrocious system is re-engineered the better.


  15. MK says:

    As pointed out above, postal ballots should be expected to swing Tory anyway, as they’re used by mainly older people who tend to vote that way.

    If that’s all this is about, then it means very little for the overall outcome of the election, unless the results are even worse for Labour than they expected considering the demographics of postal voting.

  16. Owen says:

    I’m assuming that Labour strategists are aware of the different demographic of postal voters and have adjusted for this. If there’s a sliver of hope, it’s that this info has been leaked as *part* of the GOTV strategy, to try to spook Labour voters in marginals where the party has been ahead in the polls out of any complacency.

  17. La Fontaine says:

    I knew from the PV opening last time that we had very likely won our marginal seat. I was agent, but I did not tell the candidate!

  18. Chris says:

    Yeah, the electoral commission changed the rules this year so it’s impossible for parties to see postal vote counts. Or have any idea at all.

    Meaning this article is just made up…..

    Just sounds like a Milliband/Brand attack article by the bitter, Ed hating Blairites that run this site.

    Again, the rules were changed this year. Impossible for parties to see postal vote numbers

  19. wg says:

    The practice of taking “tallies” on postal votes is, I believe, illegal.

    If anybody, anywhere, is aware of such information then some very serious investigation needs to be going on.

    I would be disgusted if Miliband, or any other party leader, were to knowingly be abusing the democratic process in this manner.

  20. Mason says:

    @ Owen

    I would doubt that Owen.

    If certain people are managing to get a peek at the postal votes as they come in, they would have to do so very carefully as it is highly illegal.

    The idea that they are not only peeking but recording the name of each voter, looking up their age one by one and then performing demographic adjustment, I think is unlikely in the extreme.

    That is assuming that this story has any truth in the first place of course.

  21. Eva says:

    What a load of old codswallop!! Stop with your mischief making.

  22. Storris says:

    During the Party Leaders Question Time, Miliband implicitly told us that he had no intention of listening to anyone when he refused to accept that Labour had overspent,.

    He followed that up by saying explicitly that he had no intention of listening to anyone, because he was our leader!

    Strategy? The man’s nothing but misplaced narcissism.

  23. Doug says:

    If Labour representatives are “sampling” ballots during daily postal opening with or without the connivance of corrupt returning staff then they are just individually risking prosecution for breaking electoral law. If it is organised to the extent this article is employing then the conspiracy is at a level which would result in custodial sentences if it can be proven.

  24. George S says:

    sorry but visiting brand thinking it would help was the last gasp from an inadequate.

    everything about the labour approach to this GE has been bizarre and self defeating. be it the evaporating 35%, the total avoidance of mentioning the debt/deficit or where labour mps have been cornered (not unlike rats) about it they have been a pr disaster, the weaponising of the nhs only to fall foul of mid staffs and the state of the welsh nhs (at least the snp carry the can for the failures of the scottish nhs). its all been pretty miserable.
    The only reason we are still in this race (and not shot) is the constituency boundaries which are very much in our favour AND no one will face reality to just how finely balanced the economy is. one bad move and the whole lot topples. Gideon takes some abuse but he’s been lucky – give me a lucky chancellor rather than a good one … will Balls be as lucky in charge with Ed freezing this or capping that – you had better hope. and thats before we get to the snp!
    This might be another good election to lose.

  25. Jim says:

    Reporting on postal votes is illegal., guys. Did you not see the mess Ruth Davidson got herself into with her comments on postal vote results on the night of the referendum?

  26. skarp says:

    According to the electoral commission postal votes have not yet been counted. So I’m calling bullshit

  27. Darren Reynolds says:

    Postal votes are one envelope inside another. Up until now, only the outer envelope has been opened. No-one has seen how any votes have been cast. The only way in which this information could be useful is if a party has a high voter ID and knows that it is stronger (or weaker) in the PV than in the walk-in and has estimated differential turnout. That’s a bit far-fetched TBH.

  28. Darren Reynolds says:

    Oh. Actually I’m wrong! Oops. Both envelopes have been opened. But communication of any vote tally prior to the declaration would be illegal, so I hope they’ve not done that.

  29. Doug says:

    I should have included this with my earlier comment. If you have any information on individuals sampling data at daily postal opening or worse a conspiracy to collate such illegally obtained data please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 where your information can be taken anonymously. They are running a special drive to combat electoral offences this month.

  30. Andrew Morton says:

    The problem with this story is that, following the PR disaster of the Scottish Referendum postal votes, with Ruth Davidson revealing them on camera before the votes had been counted, Scottish Electoral staff have been told to tally the votes face down so that party workers can’t work out how the vote is going. That being the case, this story can’t be true at the Scottish end. Can we believe the rest of it?

  31. Duncan says:

    What is the rationale behind fabricating this story? I know there’s a diehard little clique on the Labour right who want us to lose, but telling such obvious falsehoods is just weird.

  32. EN says:


    “The Representation of the People Act 2002 inserted a section 66A into the initial 1983 of the same name and this read as follows. It is a criminal offence ‘to publish, before a poll is closed, any statement about the way in which voters have voted in that election, where this statement is, or might reasonably be taken to be, based on information given by voters after they voted.’

    “Not only statements and statistics but also making forecasts based on exit polls, constitute an offence. The 2002 Act specifically makes it an offence ‘to publish, before a poll is closed, any forecast – including any estimate – of that election result, if the forecast is based on exit poll information from voters, or which might reasonably be taken to be based on it.”

  33. Shale Bing says:

    Postal votes are opened to check signatures. Agents taking tallies of postal votes and sharing them with anyone are committing an offence. There is a police investigation currently into claims by the Tory leader that this took place in the Scottish referendum. See for background on this.

  34. skarp says:

    Sorry link above was for Welsh Assembly elections but it’s no different for UK elections. if this is a legit story then mass offences have been committed, never mind Russell Brand

    6.22 You are required to take proper precautions for preventing any person
    from seeing the votes made on the ballot papers. Throughout the opening
    sessions you must keep the ballot papers face down. There may be
    occasions when the front of a ballot paper becomes visible. However, it is an
    offence for anyone to attempt to ascertain the candidate(s) for whom any vote
    is given on any particular ballot paper or communicate any such information
    obtained at those proceedings. Anyone attending the opening of postal votes,
    which includes your staff working at the opening session, must maintain the
    secrecy of voting.

  35. Psteph O'Logy says:

    Utter Garbage.

    There is no counting of ballot papers at the opening. All voting papers, when taken from their envelope are placed face downwards and the serial number is matched to the postal ballot lists. They are then sealed into ballot boxes.

    Nothing but the worst kind of mischeif.

  36. Check: – “In October 2010 McCarthy admitted a charge of electoral fraud, accepting a police caution for revealing on Twitter the number of postal votes cast per party in her constituency at the 2010 election, and apologised for this action”

    The rules may have changed since 2010, but I’d be surprised if in practice the ballot were completely secret before polling day. Basically, in 2010, Kerry McCarthy MP decided she’d take the rap criminally for what was going on: campaigners from all parties going round and threatening the voters saying the ballot wasn’t really secret so you’d better vote the right way or we’ll send the boys round.

    End Postal Voting Now.

  37. Ryland1 says:

    This article is the most bizzare i have read in the whole election… I wonder how many people realise that it is almost impossible to derive any information from a postal vote opening. The ballot papers are placed face down so any one from a political parties present has no chance at all of seeing anything relating to the way people voted.
    There has been a discussion on a facebook thread where the PV opening in 5 seats are mentioned – Swansea East, West, Gower, Neath and Aberavon and there was not one piece of info gleaned from any of them. Unless returning officers else where are running their opening of PV votes differently or unless the parties have infiltrated party members into the people actually opening the envelopes etc then this article is complete bollocks!

  38. Peter says:

    What’s really needed to steady nerves, rally troops and show real leadership at this critical juncture is to commission a big monument to plonk in the No. 10 Rose Garden to dance naked around.

    Never fails. Hell, yeah.

  39. James says:

    Well, it’s a lot harder to win the postal ballot when the authorities do a stupid thing like ask people to re-register, leading to a drop of thousands (even tens of thousand) in some parts of the country when fraudulent registrations are weeded out of the system. In Birmingham for example, they suddenly lost 30,000 “voters” who never existed. Yes, activists on all parties are up to no good, but history has shown us that Labour benefits more from fake postal votes.

  40. Madasafish says:

    Peter “at this critical juncture is to commission a big monument to plonk in the No. 10 Rose Garden”

    Hmm. I am old enough to remember GEs going back to 1964 where I counted votes.

    Almost every PM elected has had to give up some of his manifesto commitments – or some have been failures. That’s life.

    Putting up an obelisk to highlight potential failures in advance seems to me to be a hostage to fortune…at best and hubris at worst.

  41. Tafia says:

    when the authorities do a stupid thing like ask people to re-register

    There is that much fraud connected to postal voting re-registering was the least they should have demanded. Fingerprinting and DNA would have been more apropriate.

  42. Emma says:

    Of course people look (and some tally what they’ve seen). Why else would candidates, agents and activists bother spending an hour attending these!

    I assume none of the comments above are from people who have attended?

  43. Owen says:


    I agree – that’s sort of my point. If the story has been leaked as an attempt to get rid of any complacency in marginals or convince shy Labour voters in Scotland that they’re not alone, it doesn’t need to be true at all. There’s no need to *actually* illicitly tally postal votes, just to insinuate that it’s been done. I’m not au fait enough with electoral law to know whether this is illegal (if this were the case, there’s still an attempt to influence voters on polling day with supposed information from other people’s ballots), but it’s pretty morally dubious.

  44. Owen says:


    And you don’t need to know the specifics of each voter to adjust for demographics, you just need to know how postal voters as a group differ from the population as a whole. This is pretty easily (and legally) done with survey work.

  45. Armand Tamsarian says:

    With Labour after the Muslim vote, after all they allowed so many in, could they not be alienating the other ethnics who fled persecution from the same.

  46. DB says:

    The fact that Labour seats in Scotland are only ‘competitive’ after the pensioner vote is in, doesn’t look good for the chances of retaining them.

    Miliband would be sensible to start talking up the mandate for a ‘reasonable’ Labour-SNP deal, if that is what voters want.

    As SNP voters know their party cannot form a government, and the SNP has ruled out supporting the Tories, then they are effectively giving Miliband a Scottish mandate (with conditions).

  47. WHS says:

    To all those querying about postal vote openings – most boroughs open them on a daily basis, agents are allowed to go in and see the opening to make sure nothing untoward is happening, while they are there the agents look who the votes are for and are able to then make calculations as to how well the postal vote is going.

    For those saying, “but to tally this up and/or to communicate this data is illegal”, well shock horror, all parties do this.

  48. paul barker says:

    I am a Libdem troll (cute, furry & orange) so I am confused by all this, I am not sure of the details of Electoral practise, not enough to be sure who is right.
    On the face of it the original story looks like nonsense but I doubt it was “made up”, it seems like just the sort of story that would be generated by a process of “chinese whispers” among people who feel they should be “in the loop” but arent.

    The story about EdM & the big slab of stone is obviously nonsense, no-one could be that stupid & get to lead a major Party, surely ?

  49. GDW says:

    Labour deserve to lose due to its incoherent envy driven message

  50. Gloone says:

    If this article is false, well, you’re a liar.

    If this article is true, I’m afraid you’re in breach of electoral law, which bans anybody from divulging any information gleaned from votes prior to the poll closing.

    Either way you’re scum.

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