Tuesday 2 July 2024

The Tactics of Voting


On social media, I have made no secret of the fact that I dislike this Conservation government, they are the worst government in my memory, and I lived through Margaret Thatcher. I want a change, I want a Labour government, and I am not alone in this. The polls show that Labour is well ahead of the Tories and are on track to be elected as our next government. But can we be sure of this?

We elect our governments under the First Past The Post system and this does not mean that a political party’s seats in parliament reflects the national share of votes it received. At the last election, in 2019, the Conservatives won 43.6% of the national vote but won 52.6% of the seats in Parliament. And there also the large amount of “safe seats” in this country. Nearly 14million voters live in constituencies that have not changed party hands sincethe Second World War. Even if the Conservatives lose this election, they will still be the official opposition and still hold a lot of power. Do they deserve to be the official opposition, were they can squabble and try and push their agenda on the government, through official questions in parliament and the large number of parliamentary committees they will have seats on, and these committees wield so much power.

This Conservative government have wasted their power and harmed the country, in the last fourteen years they have been in government. At best they have been mediocre, but for the majority of their time in office, whichever prime minister was in charge, they have failed. Their policies have wrecked the country.

Austerity. This was a policy to “pay for” the bailout of the banks following the 2008 credit crunch, caused by the banks’ investment arms. In reality it made the poorest people in our country pay for it. It saw benefit caps, including the two-child benefit limit and the bedroom tax, stripping money off the most vulnerable in our society. It also caused a slowing in life expectancy improvement, an extra 57,550 people in England died in the five years from 2010.

Under funding of councils. This is a direct result of the austerity policies because it saw a cut in councils’ funding. Local authority “spending power”, the amount of money councils has to spend from government grants, council tax and business rates – fell by 17.5% between 2009/10 and 2019/20,before partially recovering. However, in 2021/22 it was still 10.2% below2009/10 levels. Earlier this year council leaders called on the government for an extra £750m funding just to help them provide their basic services. Councils provide adult and child social care, public health, sexual health services, registration of births, deaths and marriages, ceremonies and citizenship, environmental services, housing, especially housing homeless families, libraries and archives, and parking. So many vital services.

Rise in Food Bank usage. Between 2010 and 2021 we have seen an over 4,000% rise in the number of food parcels distributed, being 2.5 million food parcels given out in 2021. This is nothing to be proud of. This is a sign of the rise in poverty.

Cost of living crisis. This has only thrown more people into poverty. 600,000 more people, half of them children, are living in absolute poverty. This is the joint highest increase in 40 years. 7.2 million (11% of the population) now livein food insecurity. Yet the government has done nothing to ease this, they just seem to stand by and shout about the inflation rates, ignoring the fact that prices are not coming down.

State of the NHS, which is now on its knees. Many people have said that the NHS is in the worst state it has ever been, but there is a lot of evidence to back this up. The NHS needs £4 billion of additional funding in 2024–25 just to provide its current services. It’s waiting list stands at 7.5 million procedures, affecting about 6.3 million different patients in England. In February 2020 there were already 4.47 million cases on a waiting list for consultant-ledcare. This disgustingly large number of people stuck on NHS waiting lists is not due to the Covid lockdown alone. There is also the NHS’s chronic shortage of staff, which this government has done nothing to address. 8.4%, or121,000 of full-time equivalent NHS roles are vacant, and yet we haven’t seen any attempt by this government to fill these roles. To add to this, 10.7% (154,000) of staff left their NHS role in the year ending September 2023. Is this government just letting the NHS die on its feet?

PPE Scandal. This government has thrown away billions of pounds on PPE (Personal protective equipment). During the pandemic, 75% of the £12 billion spent on PPE, in thefirst year of lockdown, was spent on PPE that’s price was over-inflated or wassubstandard. But £4 billion was spent on PPE that was so substandard that it was unusable and had to be destroyed. The government has not made any attempts to claw back this money, especially the £4 billion that was so substandard that it didn’t meet requirements. But the scandal doesn’t end there. In June this year, £1.4bn worth of PPE was destroyed without any explanation. But this PPE was of a high standard from a reputable manufacturer. All in all, this waste of money is breath-taking.

RAAC concrete scandal affecting public buildings. A lot of buildings, including many public buildings, were built with RAAC concrete in the 1980s because it was cheap. But it only had a life expectancy of 30 years. Problems were noticed in 2018 when ceilings in schools started collapsing. Now, a large number of public buildings, including schools and hospitals, are effected by crumbing and potentially dangerous RAAC concrete. Yet this government has done nothing about it, they don’t even seem to be treating it as an emergency.

Liz Truss’s Prime Ministership. She was our shortest serving Prime Minister, lasting only 45 days in office, yet during that time she managed to wipe £19 billion off our economy. She achieved this by proposing an unfunded budget that would have given millions to the richest people in our country. A crazy policy that was discredited decades ago.

Rise in taxes. Taxes, under this government, are the highest they have been since 1948. Yet our public services are chronically underfunded.

Failure to grow the economy. In 2023, our economy grew by 0.1% overall,though in the second half of 2023, the economy shrank by 0.3%. But in 2023 the US economy grew by 3.3% and even the French economy grew by 0.8%.

The Failure of Brexit. This has totally failed. Not even the most optimistic Google search can find real benefits of it. Yet this government through the country into it based only on fantastical beliefs and a very questionable referendum, which was fought on many lies.

This government has failed to such a breath-taking high degree and damaged and destroyed so many people’s lives, lives they promised to protect as our government, that they do not deserve to even serve as the official opposition. They deserved to be reduced to a fringe party, to be ignored as they squabble on the side-lines. And we can do this.

Tactical Voting could be the way to achieve this. Instead of voting for the candidate of the party you follow/agree with, but to vote for the candidate of the centrist/left wing party are most likely to beat the Conservative candidate. In reality it is voting for the Labour or Libdem candidate, which ever one stands the best chance of winning that seat. But how do you find out how to use your vote tactically?

Stop TheTories is a website coordinating this. You enter your post code and if your MP is Conservative, it will recommend the candidate to vote for to most likely unseat that MP or to vote for to make sure the Conservatives do not win your seat. Stop The Tories are coordinating for people who want to tactically vote, it is the best tactical voting website, they are doing far more than just saying, “Don’t vote Tory”, and they are not misleading voters, like some websites that claim to be for tactical voting. From everything I have read and heard, Stop The Tories are one of the best tactical voting sites. It is the only one I will use.

Tactical voting isn’t new. After the last General Election, in 2019, a YouGov poll found that 32% of voters (nearly athird) had tactically voted. If nearly a third of voters did it then, why not more this year? It is a way to send a very firm message to the Conservative Party. Many famous Conservative MPs could lose their seats at this election. Jeremy Hunt, Grant Shapps, Penny Mordaunt, Johnny Mercer, Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg are all at risk of losing their seats, with their majorities within the reach of Labour or the Libdem. But, with tactical voting, Suella Braverman, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak could also lose their seats. Wouldn’t that be something to see, on election night, the current Conservative leader, the most disastrous Prime Minister we’ve ever had and an MP who fancies herself as the next Conservative leader, all losing their seats?

But the main reason to tactically vote is to ensure the Conservatives, not just lose power, but are so beaten that they cannot form the official opposition, and are locked out of power. Do they deserve anything less with the way they have treated the country?

There has been calls against tactical voting, saying it’s pointless and doesn’t lead to change and that it shouldn’t be allowed. But tactical voting is coordinating voting, in this case against the Conservative Party, who have failed in government. The Conservative Party have used underhand and dishonest tactics during election campaigns. In the 2019 election campaign, during a leaders’ debate, the Conservative Party rebranded their twitter account as "factcheckUK", pretending to be a fact checking account and of sending out misleading anti-Labour tweets. A Conservative politician called the outcry against this as “nonsense”. In this election campaign, the Conservatives pulled the same stunt during the leaders’ debate, changing their twitter account to “Tax Check UK”. How can they be trusted?

We are well overdue electoral reform, but the Conservative Party has stood in the way of this. Stop The Tories state that one of their aims in getting the Conservative Party voted into third place is so that they cannot block any long overdue electoral reforms. Tactical voting could achieve this, why aren’t we working hard for that?


Monday 17 June 2024

Genuine Proof of Person


My government doesn’t trust me at my word.

Before 2023, all I had to do to vote was take my polling card to the polling station, have one of the election officials check my name off against their list of registered voters and then I would vote. Now I have to show photo ID to vote, but not any photo ID, only one of the nineteen legally approved photo IDs. Why the change in the law? There’s been no voter fraud scandal.

There has been no large-scale electoral fraud in Britain, and since 2019 eleven people have received convictions for it and four people have received policecautions. This is hardly an epidemic of it, 11 convictions out of 46,000,000 voters in the UK. But since 2019, 18 members of parliament have been suspended from parliament for offences that include: misusing campaignfunds, harassment, comparing Covid vaccinations to the holocaust, antisemitism,domestic violence, sexual offenses, sexual assault and a rape arrest. All of these are serious offences. In the same time period, an additional 10 MPs resigned before they could be suspended. This is 28 MPs breaking the rules, out of 650 MPs, since 2019, a little under three times the number of people convicted of electoral fraud. Also, since 2rd June, Robert Largan, the Conservative candidate for High Peak in Derbyshire, has been under investigation by the police for election fraud. So why do we need to show ID when we vote? On the evidence, we need to tighten up regulations on MPs’ behavior.

There have already been some high profile cases of people being turned away from polling stations for not having the required ID. Boris Johnson was turned away,in May, when he tried to vote in the local elections because he didn’t have therequired photo ID. This was Boris Johnson and the chance that it was a publicity stunt is high, he hasn’t featured in newspaper headlines for quite some time, and he returned with the required ID. Adam Diver, a former British soldier, was turned away from his polling station when he tried to usehis military ID to vote, a government issued ID. This is because the government has set a very narrow, and very bias, list of approved photo ID, we can only use one of nineteen different forms of ID.

This list of approved voter ID is neither fair or equal.

Of the 19 forms of ID 10 are available to adults, 8 forms are available to the over 65s only, and only one form of ID is specific to young people, but the breakdown of these approved IDs is even more worrying. Of 10 forms of ID available without age restrictions, not all of them are available to everyone. Of them:

1 is a Ministry of Defense Form (but not military ID),

1 is the Blue Badge disabled parking permit,

1 is an immigration document,

1 is the EU citizen’s ID,

1 is available to Scottish citizens only,

1 is available to Welsh citizens only.

This leaves only four forms of approved ID available to general voters, one form of approved ID is specific to young people, while 8 different approved IDs are only available to the over 65s. This law was passed by the Conservative Party and is obviously bias towards the age group who traditionally vote for them, the elderly. This is gerrymandering of the worst sort, rigging election regulations against your political opponents.

This isn’t only my opinion. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a minister in Boris Johnson’s government and the one responsible for rallying MPs to vote for this law, said, "Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding that their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections.” He actually admitted that this law was intended to disenfranchise the voters who didn’t vote for the Conservatives. This is unacceptable, a law that is intended to discriminate against a section of our society. Our government should be governing for all of the country, not just the section of the country who they think will vote for them.

This law first impacted the May 2023 local elections. A report from then found that 14,000 people were turned away from polling stations because they didn’t have the right ID, about 0.25% of total voters. The report also found 4% of people who did not vote said it was because of not having the required voter ID. But it also found that the number of people turned away from polling stations for not having the right photo ID was probably much higher because almost 40% of polling stations used “greeters”, who told voters what ID was needed before they entered the polling station. That 14,000 was only the number turned away inside the polling station, if they didn’t enter there, because they didn’t have the right ID, then they weren’t counted as being turned away. In reality, it was probably a much larger number of people who didn’t vote because of the need for voter ID. A poll earlier this year found that 14% of voters were still unaware of the need for voter ID.

But there are big holes in this voter ID requirement. You don’t need any photo ID to use postal voting. All you need is your address, your National Insurance number and the date of the election you want to cast your postal vote in. You don’t need to provide any photo ID, let alone one off a small, approved list. You can also apply for an official voter photo ID, to be used just to cast your vote, called a Voter Authority Certificate’. To obtain one of these you’ll need a recent, digital photo of yourself, your National Insurance number and your address, nothing more, certainly not photo ID. This gives the lie to the claim that voter ID is to stop voter fraud. Here are two ways to vote were you don’t need any one of the 19 required photo IDs. But this law was never about voter fraud, it was about gerrymandering, about reducing the ability to vote for people who won’t vote for the Conservative Party.

We are well over due voter reform in this country. When the new government comes into office, they need to repeal this dishonest law, The Elections Act 2022.