Jim Crow in Woking?

Paul Atkin reports on how government plans for voter suppression in the UK redefine a ‘fundamental British value’.

There are now over 240 bills going through Republican-controlled states in the USA to bring back Jim Crow laws, by restricting the voting rights of any demographic that is unlikely to vote for them. They are preparing the ground for a Trump revival in the 2022 mid-term elections and the 2024 Presidential election.

These measures in “the best democracy money can buy” has its counterpart in a proposal currently under consideration in the UK – and being trialed in Woking, a Tory-controlled town hitherto mostly famous for its Pizza Express. It will require presentation of photo i/d to be a condition of voting in any election from 2023. The next general election is scheduled for 2024.

This is designed to exclude anyone that does not have photo i/d from the right to vote.

The two main forms of photo i/d in the UK are passports and car licenses. So, the determining factor in whether you have the right to vote or not will be whether or not you can afford to drive a car or take overseas holidays. 24% of potential voters do neither.

So this proposal would disenfranchise one in four of the electorate – the quarter with the least resources.

So, the worst off will be most disenfranchised. When you add ethnicity to this, it becomes even more poisonous. 24% of White people do not have a driving license, compared to 39% identifying as Asian and 47% of Black people. So, Black people are twice as likely to be excluded from the right to vote as White people.

Younger people are also less likely to own cars – often for very positive reasons – as are people who live in cities. In Brent, in northwest London, for example, 42% of households have no access to a car or van. So, it’s clear who this measure is designed to shuffle off the register. A cursory look at opinion polls indicates why.

The Tories like to argue that democracy is a ‘fundamental British value’ but this is the single biggest roll-back of voting rights in British history. So not so much a fundamental value, more an expendable expedient – something they’d put up with when it offered no threat.

But Corbynism gave them a scare in 2017. And, as post Brexit, less-than-global Britain shrinks into a mean and twisted cartoon of its worst features, they are still haunted by the ghost of it, knowing that the future is neither bright nor orange.

Paul Atkin blogs at https://urbanramblings19687496.city/

Image: Polling station sign, London. Source: originally posted to Flickr as Polling station. Author: secretlondon123, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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