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Kim Sanders-Fisher

#TORYRIG2019 – Time to Fight Back! Problems were identified and alarm bells sounded well before the 2019 General Election, but all the warning signs were ignored; if anything the vulnerability was deliberately manipulated by the Tory call for a mid December election. This deceitful ploy was brought to my attention in a recent twitter post from: Postal Vote Investigation @PostalVoteProbe: “9m mainly young, low-income, renters and ethnic minorities. The election was called for Dec12 hampering efforts to register these voters as the normal annual canvass (house enquiry forms) on Dec 1st was disrupted. Is this why Labours vote dropped 3m?”

The dilemma identified in this Postal Vote Investigation tweet was the subject of a late October article in the Independent in the lead up to an impending General election: “Proposal for snap vote in December sparks fears of electoral roll chaos.” In the article the Independent reported that: “Britain is facing the possibility of electoral chaos if Boris Johnson pushes ahead with plans for a December general election. A pre-Christmas snap election would force officials to use two different electoral registers to manage voting, potentially leading to confusion and delays.” (my emphasis)
In retrospect the two differing electoral registers may indeed have accounted for the confusion, delays and also the large number of people unexpectedly denied the right to vote on polling day. This was chaos warned of well in advance so clearly chaos by design. The chaotic sotiation was relished by the Tories as it very deliberately suppressed the vote, although this will undoubtedly be strenuously denied with bogus claims of “unintentional consequences.”

A supporting link in the tweet was to a late September 2019 Guardian article: “More than 9 million eligible UK voters ‘not correctly registered – Electoral Commission research prompts renewed calls for automatic registration” The piece featured: “Research by the Electoral Commission analysed electoral registers and found that 17% of eligible voters in Great Britain, as many as 9.4 million people, were either missing from the electoral register or not registered at their current address, with major errors affecting up to 5.6 million people.” Among the troubling facts that the research uncovered: “It highlighted stark differences in registration levels between younger people, renters, low-income and black and ethnic minority people, compared with older white people who own their homes.”

Statistics show that older home owners will be more likely to vote Tory while young people living in private rental accommodation, probably under precarious circumstances due to the reliance on insecure zero-hours contract jobs, would be easily excluded from voting. Surviving from pay check to pay check, possibly requiring Universal Credit and food banks just to get by while under the constant threat of a rapid eviction without cause, I sincerely doubt that this sector of the population would have voted for more exploitation and austerity under the Tories no matter how they felt about Brexit. However, the precarious nature of their low paid jobs would compound their total lack of tenancy rights, meaning that they would have been frequently required to up sticks and move quite suddenly, which is when and why they drop off the electoral register.

Labour manifesto pledges would have eliminated the exploitation advantage of hiring zero-hours contract staff, bringing stability and certainty to workers lives and a decent increase in the minimum wage to stem their reliance on Universal Credit top-ups and food bank use. A huge investment in social housing would provide secure tenancies with increased time residing at one stable address, but none of that is on the Tory agenda, because it decreases the opportunities for exploitation as well as getting working class and poorer voters registered to vote the toxic Tories out of office.

According to that Electoral Commission research: “Private renters remain the least likely to have up to date register entries (58%) compared to people who own their houses outright (91%). Registration levels are also low among young people aged 18-34, with only 71% correctly registered, compared to 94% for people aged 65 and over.” The sad reality for those 18-34 tear olds is that the vast majority of them do not earn enough money to be able to afford to leave home and even when they do their prosperity and livelihood is so tenuous that the slightest glitch puts them at the mercy of parental generosity or stranded to chose between sofa-surfing or sleeping rough on the streets.

All of this evidence of the disenfranchisement, of precarious living and the daily fight for survival helps debunk the fake-news that huge numbers of working class Labour voters went to the polls in droves to change allegiance and vote for five more years of pain and suffering under Tory rule. However, this is precisely the insecurity and dependence cycle the Tories intend to perpetuate to facilitate their remaining in power. Increased building of social housing would reduce property values for their wealthy supporters and end the exorbitant rental charge gravy-train channelling public money into their housing benefit provision slush fund. Those means tested to receive Universal Credit to top-up their pittance wages are not the target for this Tory engineered benefit: in reality that money goes to the employers who fail to pay a living wage.

Once the Tories manage to fully privatize our NHS another whole level of insecurity kicks in as those who receive health care coverage as a benefit of their jobs will live in fear of losing their job just as they do in the US. Once we no longer have the worker’s rights and protections of EU membership there will be a rapid shift to an American “business friendly” model that prioritizes corporate demands. This includes penalties for calling in sick more than three times in one year or for arriving at work late; breaks are at the discretion of the employer and overtime becomes mandatory in key sectors. Then there is the ability to fire employees without cause: “At Will” firing. This endangers us all as whistleblowers are effectively gagged and often marched out in disgrace surrounded by security as Dominic Cummins demonstrated with one of the number ten Special Advisors. Stripping away workers rights and crippling the power of UK unions was a key goal of Brexit.

This Guardian article reminds us that: “In 2014, the government introduced individual voter registration to reduce the possibility of electoral fraud. This prevented universities from registering students en bloc.” Many students were not deterred by this tactic and there was a massive surge in voter registrations from students eager to have their say, but the timing of the election targeted the one week they would most likely be on the move returning home for Christmas. They were free to select between their home constituency and their university location and hopefully used their vote wisely for the greatest impact. However, because of the poor timing of the election a large number of students decided to use a postal vote and we know from irate reports that vast swaths of their votes were invalidated and discarded.

The same Guardian article also notes that: “The ERS has also called for same-day registration systems to be trialled, allowing people to sign up on election day, as well as an online service to find out if people are registered.” They also pointed out that “You shouldn’t have to opt in to your right to vote. As the Electoral Commission note, we need to move towards automatic registration now, starting with being able to check you are registered online, and being able to register whenever you engage with government bodies or services. We know this works from other countries.” (ERS may actually refer to the Electoral Commission as a source of this input as the article was corrected.)

Under the Tories it is set to get a lot worse with the “Sledgehammer to crack a nut” proposal to introduce voter ID checks. The Guardian reported that: “Earlier this year, voter ID was made compulsory in 10 voting districts despite voter impersonation making up just 3% of all alleged electoral offences at the previous local election” It went on to say in conclusion that: “More than 100,000 people applied to register to vote in two days this month, with young people making up the bulk of the surge. However, it followed an almost 1% overall drop in those registered to vote between 2017-18.”

In a system that, in the words of one highly respected Judge. is now an open invitation to fraud “on an Industrial Scale,” how much worse could it get? Introducing voter ID could deliberately disenfranchise about three million potential voters who could not afford a passport or a driving license. The poor, minorities and the most vulnerable get wiped off the voting register with no ID due to lack of funds; no problem they were not likely to vote Tory. Students and the majority of young people subsisting in increasingly precarious circumstances will find it harder to stay registered; they probably do not support the Tories either.

Now the Tories have absolute control over government they can determine how Idox will secure total control over not just the postal vote but the entire voting system without any bothersome Watchdog oversight. Then to make the whole vote rigging system a lot easier to hack, and more reliable to rig, the Tories will introduce electronic voting machines just like the ones used to fraudulently corrupt so many US elections. Anyone who really thinks there will be another genuine opportunity to oust the Tories in five years time is totally delusional. If we fail to overturn this rigged election result within the next few months Boris Johnsons dictatorship will dominate our politics for decades. We need to Rescue or Watchdog! Please sign the AVAAZ Petition: