When we think of attacks on democracy, we think of dramatic moments like military coups, but the reality can be more boring, but just as dangerous — like voter suppression. Which is happening here in the UK.
The Government has changed how you can vote. If you were on the electoral register, you could turn up at your polling station. Now you must show a specific form of photo ID and if you don’t have it, you go home. No paperwork, no vote.
The reason cited is voter fraud. Of course we must protect electoral integrity but this is an invented problem being used to import a denial of democracy. Last year there was just one caution issued by the police. For a bit of context, Downing Street received 126 fixed penalty notices over partygate.
Tories cite Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman, who was found guilty of election fraud and removed from office back in 2015. But this case actually proves the current system works — it discovered fraud and punished him. His case was also more to do with postal votes than people impersonating people at the polling station. If you’re genuinely worried about dodgy postal votes, these voter ID plans don’t address that. But that’s not what this about.
And is it proportionate or fair to impose a bureaucratic new system on 70 million people across the country based on what happened in one borough in London?
People also cite the fact that you need ID to pick up a parcel. That’s because people do try to steal parcels. They’re not trying to steal votes. Despite what Donald Trump says.
This new proposal — which kicks in at the local elections on May 4 across parts of the country (which aren’t happening in London) — matters because of who it will affect. Cabinet Office figures estimate that 2.1 million people could lose out. And they will tend to be from ethnic minority communities, less well off, renters who are more transient and younger people.
These citizens are also more likely to vote Labour, and with a tight election on the horizon where the stakes are high, a spot of voter suppression could make a difference. Every little helps.
But it’s not just Labour voices who are worried. Many on the Right are nervous that older Conservative voters could turn up at a polling station with an old driving licence or passport with a photo from 15 years ago and they too will lose their vote. Although older people are allowed to use their travel passes as ID, while younger people are not. Hmm, wonder why?
There was always a desire in all political parties to increase voter participation in elections. This bad faith, cynical move will reduce the franchise. Democracy is about fair competition and a level playing field. This is the opposite.
Ahead of the general election, we need the mother of all voter registration campaigns to start now.
Rachel Weisz is terrifying in Dead Ringers
For anyone tuning into Amazon’s Dead Ringers expecting a TV version of Radio Four’s gentle, amusing satirical show, be warned. It’s a glossy remake of the über-creepy 1988 film about weird twins starring Jeremy Irons who played both characters — psychopathic gynaecologists.
Now Rachel Weisz has reprised the role — playing equally creepy lady twins. She is mesmeric and terrifying. The dangerous duo are trying to create a birthing centre for mothers, but they also break every moral and ethical rule going encouraged by lots of rich bad people.
Weisz oozes rich mom energy which I could relate to as I watched it while scoffing my dinner, dribbling lamb kebab down my egg-stained hoodie. Although it dampened even my appetite — some of childbirth scenes are SO gory and stomach churning. Call The Midwife this ain’t. Although it did make me feel quite relieved to be child-free.