Portions of the Left are up in arms about a trial the Tories plan to roll out at the next local elections during which British voters will be asked to present identification if they wish to vote. Or more to the point, people in certain parts of the country will be momentarily disenfranchised should they fail to produce photo ID. To clarify: when I say “portions of the Left” what I really mean is The Guardian and a few other left-leaning outlets; the Labour leadership office is too busy worrying about how to get bankers to drown in their own excrement and crowing about how Vladimir Putin is a shining force for good in the world, of course.
Many on the Right are asking what the big deal is – voter fraud needs to be eliminated after all, and how else to do it but through ID at polling stations. Except of course that election fraud isn’t really a huge problem in the UK. The one area of minor concern is postal voting fraud, but ID demands at polling stations will do absolutely nothing to combat this problem.
The other comment from the right on this issue is that Labour are only worried about this for partisan reasons; that in poorer parts of the country, ID is supposedly less plentiful. Are the Tories living in the 20th century? Poor people don’t vote Labour anymore, only extremely wealthy people in London do. And Labour aren’t concerned about this anyway, at least the leadership isn’t – Corbyn is obsessed with trying not to seem anti-Semitic and babbling about the Iraq War in translucent terms, not whether people in Rotherham will be denied a vote because they’ve never applied for a passport.
Since Labour can’t make a good case for why requiring ID to vote is a bad idea, I’ll make one myself. Not having to yank out one’s identification papers for everything is one of the great joys of living in Britain. I seem to recall the Tories making the case for this themselves in the 2010 election when they likened introducing ID cards to having to live during WWII. Now they want to disenfranchise the ID-less? I’m sure the irony is lost on senior Tories that introducing ID cards is the only way to make the voter ID plan make any sense at all.
If we had a huge problem in this country with voter fraud I’d willing to consider this, but we don’t, and again, the biggest source of voter fraud won’t be covered by this move anyhow. The only reason that makes any sense at all is for the Conservative Party to supposedly gain yet another electoral advantage over Labour, a party that is dying in front of our eyes on their own steam anyhow.
ID or no vote is a bad policy, one that is bad for very traditionally Tory reasons as well. Shame not many Tories can recognise that at present.