A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Great Tory Gerrymander Plan

Iain Dale has spelt out today the plans that a lot of Labour folk were already aware the Tories had up their sleeves for the electoral system.

Basically they plan to downsize the electorate by disenfranchising several million, mainly Labour voting, tax paying UK residents - this from a Party that is recruiting ex-pats living in Spain (whose stake in and commitment to British society is such that they don't even live here) en masse to vote by post at the next General Election

Dale, charmlessly, headlines his post "The Irish Should Not Be Able to Vote in UK General Elections" - not making it clear until you read the detail of his post whether he means Republic of Ireland citizens or second, third or tenth generation UK citizens who self describe ethnically as Irish.

I do hope the Irish community and the Irish press in the UK read his views and give them the publicity and the odium they deserve.

The Tory plan Dale hints at is:

- win a General Election narrowly
- whip up an artificial storm about Commonwealth & Irish citizens having voting rights in the UK - probably "accidentally" creating a bit of race hatred and community tension too as the objects of this storm will necessarily be first generation immigrants
- pass a quick bit of legislation disenfranchising the millions of Commonwealth & Irish citizens currently on the election register
- recompile the new register without them
- hold a boundary review which abolishes a number of Labour inner city constituencies where the register has been shrunk massively by the disenfranchisement and in outer urban seats brings in suburban Tory wards to bring the electorate back up to size - simultaneously because the overall electorate is smaller but the rural electorate remains roughly the same, new Tory seats would be created in the shires
- hold a new general election and win it by a bigger majority
- simultaneous council byelections for any Irish and Commonwealth citizens who are councillors and suddenly not eligible to hold public office anymore
- hope this locks Labour out of power for ever more

From the people that opposed the Great Reform Act here it is - a disgusting proposal to create the first ever electoral reform aimed at reducing the size of the electorate and disenfranchising tax-paying UK residents. With the added side-effect of stuffing Labour, reducing community cohesion and removing one of the ways in which the UK has been able to quickly integrate immigrants by giving them full civil rights and a stake in society. Oh - and destroying one of the few tangible benefits of the Commonwealth too.

What a ghastly bunch of anti-democratic fixers the Tories are.

Even more shocking is that Dale decided to talk about this after reading it on a a Lib Dem's blog.

9 Comments:

Blogger Iain Dale said...

Pathetic. A total twisting of what I was saying and you know it.

4:07 pm, April 18, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Iain - to directly quote from your post, you agree with Anders that
"Commonwealth citizens should lose voting rights in this country." and continue "I would go a step further and remove voting rights from Irish citizens resident in the UK in General Elections."

What have I twisted? You said it in black and white.

Your poorly worded headline was even worse: "The Irish Should Not Be Able to Vote in UK General Elections."

4:24 pm, April 18, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

Tory scum

9:30 pm, April 18, 2007

 
Anonymous jdc said...

Someone wants to commission some analysis of what that would do to the number of local elections won by the BNP, I think, if it ever gets formally proposed.

The real way to stop it would be for the EU to demand it (which probably isn't that unlikely - not for the Irish, but for the world commonwealth). The Tories would then be duty-bound to oppose it.

10:04 am, April 19, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

Actually, although Iain's post was barmy and had to be updated with an obvious truth, and did get the customary bird from LOL, your analysis is way off Luke. There are relatively few Commonwealth voters or Irish passports (unless dual like myself) in most constituencies. Where there are these are Tory no-go constituencies. But often a tiny number in fact. The treatment of Irish people in census and even BME stats is all wrong of course but in Manchester with some say up to 30% Irish the proprtion who are primarily or only Irish citizens is close to zip. Fractions of a percent in the constituencies where I have looked at the figures. Actually this came up at the Man Wit final Hustings. But that's another story for another day a long long time into the future.

What worried me about Dale was that his words seemed to count in EU citizens for the two forms of elections where they vote and also disenfranchised my Kenyan house guest. Euro citizens get close to 5% of votes in City Centre Manchester as one example. Though they might be tempted to vote Tory in a three-way scrap!

Tories are not all scum, some are dregs. Discuss.

12:15 pm, April 19, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Chris

You say "are relatively few Commonwealth voters or Irish passports in most constituencies"

This might be the case with Irish voters - the only seat I can think that would be heavily impacted would be the new Hampstead & Kilburn - but a quick google search reveals that in one year alone - 2003 - 20,800 "Old Commonwealth" and 86,500 "New Commonwealth" citizens arrived in the UK. I guess the "Old Commonwealth" ones included backpackers here just for a year, but the "New Commonwealth" figure are likely to be mainly permanent migrants.

Inflow from the "New Commonwealth" to the UK has been at least 50,000 a year every year. At a rough guess a total of over 2m people?

Any of these first generation immigrants who have not yet got British citizenship would be disenfranchised by this.

My hunch is that some seats with 40%ish Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian or West Indian by ethnicity electorates could lose 20% of their electorate.

Think about the electoral impact in say Bethnal Green & Bow - Labour or Respect voters from estates off the register, Tories in loft apartments rather more powerful.

And how could we tell first generation Muslim immigrants "engage with the political process to express your anger about foreign policy" if they could not even vote unless they had got citizenship?

12:50 pm, April 19, 2007

 
Anonymous mark adams said...

Luke - I've never believed in conspiracy theories and yours rather takes the biscuit for one of those. Are you sure you're not planning your first political novel?!

2:41 pm, April 19, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Mark

this is not my theory - I was first told it by a senior Labour ex-Minister about a year ago. He thinks Tory Central Office have talked to the Republicans and Aussie Liberals about similar de-registration and disenfranchisement schemes used in the US and Australia to consolidate the right's hold on power when they got in. E.g. Florida de-registration drive.

I was sceptical like you until I saw Iain actually calling for it to happen.

2:58 pm, April 19, 2007

 
Anonymous Roy said...

One thing to note is that even if you are right and the Tories are planning to disenfranchise resident Irish citizens from voting in General Elections, as EU citizens they cannot be denied the right to vote in European and local elections. Not unless the Tories are planning to pull out of the EU too that is, and I wouldn't put that past them.

3:25 pm, April 19, 2007

 

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