Grieve’s Grievous Voter ID Hypocrisy

Saintly Dominic Grieve has forced himself back into SW1’s consciousness this morning, with a typically level-headed and measured op-ed in The Times. He screeches that “Voter ID will be a nail in the coffin for democracy and MPs’ integrity”, going on to slam the proposals for having an “unfair impact on marginalised groups”:

“… without there being any real evidence that this has led to significant electoral offences through the personation of another voter.

Every vote matters, yet these new rules threaten to create a two tier electorate and discourage participation by the least advantaged.”

Grieve’s opening gambit is to accuse the government of “rewriting the rules to suit themselves” – something he had no issue with when trampling over centuries of parliamentary precedent to try and cancel Brexit…

Grieve’s grievances appear, however, to represent a major u-turn from the supposedly-principled MP. In 2001 the Labour government introduced voter ID to Northern Ireland, requiring photo identification from 2003’s elections onwards – something the government’s been keen to point to in selling the current elections bill. Not only did Grieve back the introduction of voter ID at the time – he called on the government to consider expanding the scheme to Great Britain:

“I believe that there is ample evidence that the degree of personation and fraud in elections on the mainland of Great Britain is a growing problem. I suspect that the House will have to tackle that problem in the near future… the Opposition welcome the measure and will not seek to divide the House. We appreciate what the Government are doing, and they have our support

It seems Grieve’s only principle is that of remaining bitter towards his former party in the most prima donna way possible… 

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SNP MP’s Unparliamentary Criticism of Voter ID Bill

From Gladstone to Churchill, Benn to Hague, Parliament’s seen its fair share of great oratory. It was in this tradition that Brendan O’Hara stood to speak during the second reading of the elections bill – the legislation set to introduce, among other reforms, voter ID to British elections. The SNP MP isn’t happy with the bill, so what great profound peroration did he settle on to voice his opposition?

“I think it’s total bollocks.”

One observer suggested the parliamentary language was allowable as he was technically quoting Ruth Davidson, though procedural brain Chris Bryant denies this is the case. Guido suspects a new precedent allowing MPs to label policies as ‘bollocks’ would quickly backfire on the SNP…

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Sultana Wrong, Gove Right: the Working Class Votes Tory

This morning, Zarah Sultana accused the Conservatives of attempting to suppress working class votes with the introduction of voter ID laws. According to Sultana, low income voters overwhelming vote for Labour, so any such measure would have to be a deliberate political calculation on the part of the Tories. As Michael Gove immediately pointed out, however, that just isn’t true: low income voters are now more likely to vote Conservative than Labour. Introducing voter ID laws (irrespective of the other arguments against them) would not advantage the Tories as Sultana claims.

Guido made a similar point on Twitter soon after. As YouGov data from 2017 showed, class is no longer a reliable indicator of how people vote – that year, a middle class voter was just as likely to vote Conservative as a working class voter. The political axis of the country has shifted.

Sultana was having none of it, firing back with a graph which depicts ‘working-age voters by income‘, and appears to show that most voters earning less than £29,000 vote Labour. Conveniently ignoring all voters above 65, as though everyone above that age makes millions…

She had to ignore those voters, because otherwise her argument would fall apart. An extensive report by Matthew Goodwin and Oliver Heath for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) revealed just how far Labour has drifted from its traditional working class base:

“The Conservatives are now more popular with people on low incomes than high incomes. Labour is as popular with the wealthy as with those on low incomes…Low-income voters, who have been central to driving recent political change, played a central role in putting the Conservatives into power and Labour into opposition.”

In the 2019 election, the Tories scored a 15-point lead over Labour amongst people of all ages on low incomes. In fact, they’re actually more popular with working class voters than with the wealthy. The Conservatives aren’t the party of the rich, and Labour aren’t the party of the poor.

If Labour ever want to win another election, they need to understand all this. Judging by the latest polls, they’re a long way off…

mdi-timer 27 May 2021 @ 16:51 27 May 2021 @ 16:51 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
WATCH: Ruth Davidson Slams Government’s Voting Rights Bill

Clearly in no mood to mince her words, Ruth Davidson tore into the government last night over plans to introduce mandatory photo ID at future elections. Appearing on Peston, Davidson said: 

“I think in terms of this particular part of the Queen’s Speech, I think it’s total bollocks. And I think it’s trying to give a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, and that makes it politics as performance. And I think given where we are, and the year we’ve had, we’ve got real problems to solve in this country. And the idea that this is some sort of legislative priority, I think is for the birds.”

Davidson then took to Twitter to add that “there are bigger threats from agents outside our borders than from someone who forgets to take their drivers’ licence (if they have one) to a polling station”. David Davis said essentially the same thing; Guido wouldn’t be surprised to see this argument carry on for a while yet…

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Minister Turns Labour’s Voter ID Hypocrisy Against Them

Written parliamentary questions aren’t often the source of good political theatre, though recently Minister for the Constitution Chloe Smith cleverly rebuffed a question from Dan Carden on the government’s introduction of election voter ID. Carden asked what effect the introduction of voter ID will have on “the ability of (a) Black, (b) Asian and (c) minority ethnic people to vote.” Smith retorted by pointing out:

“Photo identification has been required in Northern Ireland since 2003, when introduced by the last Labour Government. Labour Ministers told Parliament: “The measures will tackle electoral abuse effectively without disadvantaging honest voters…. [ensuring that] no one is disfranchised because of them ”… If we believed that thousands of voters would not be able to vote because of this measure, we would not be introducing it at this time”. There has been no adverse effect on turnout or participation by such groups since then.

Chloe Smith also pointed out Labour’s stonking hypocrisy in their opposition to voter ID, while at the same time requiring identification from members to attend party meetings and to join:

“ID is already requested normally and reasonably in many areas of life, including by many constituency Labour parties, who require voter identification to vote in Labour Party selection meetings. The Labour Party’s NEC also mandates two forms of ID for any members joining an association which is in special measures.”

Guido reckons that’s game set and match to Chloe there…

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More Labour Voter ID Hypocrisy

As Guido pointed out last week, Labour is hypocritically campaigning against the Government’s planned voter ID scheme, despite mandating Labour Conference attendees to provide identification. The double standards don’t just stop there…

In Poplar and Limehouse – and at Hull MP Diana Johnson’s deselection vote tonight – the local Labour party are asking attendees to bring photo ID, their membership card or a household bill. Are they saying the disadvantaged people without photo ID can’t participate in democracy?…

The vetting Apsana Begum is carrying out clearly doesn’t extend to her campaign team, however, which counts Zahin Ahmed as a key member; someone who pushes anti-semitic conspiracy theories on Twitter, and is the son of Lutfur Rahman‘s right-hand man, Ohid Ahmed.

The Bury South Labour branch go one step further, asking for both photo ID and membership cards where possible. There are fewer checks for trying to get through an airport…

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