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Monday, January 05, 2015

Tories call on Cameron to gerrymander the electoral register

The Times reports that panic appears to have broken out amongst Tory MPs over the fact that 1.5 million 'foreign' residents will have the vote at the next General Election.

They say that under a so-called  obscure law that has never been reformed, people from Ireland and the Commonwealth who live in the UK are given voting rights. Irish, Indian and Pakistani citizens top the list of those allowed to cast a vote.  The fact that this has been the case for many General Elections previously does not seem to have registered with them:

Figures drawn up by the Commons library and passed to The Times show that there are more than 1.5 million non-British citizens who will be eligible to vote.

There will be 345,000 eligible Irish voters, 306,000 Indians, 180,000 Pakistani citizens, 73,000 Australians and 52,000 people from Zimbabwe. Other countries in the top ten are Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Canada and Bangladesh.

Some Conservatives believe that the number of voters from ethnic minorities included in the list will provide a boost to Labour. The previous election showed that Labour was far more successful in winning the votes of those from ethnic minorities.

According to the Ethnic Minority British Election Study, 31 per cent of white voters said that they supported Gordon Brown in 2010. However, 61 per cent of people of Indian descent said that they backed him, as did 60 per cent of those of Pakistani descent, 78 per cent of black Caribbean voters and 87 per cent of black African voters.

It is also the case that expats who are British citizens but have lived abroad for decades have the vote. Many of these people have opted out of being active citizens and in some case of paying British tax. Many of them vote Tory. I am not suggesting that this should change but it is funny that Tory MPs have not raised that as an issue as well.
The provision for Citizens Of Ireland to vote in UK elections dates from the foundation of the Free State (which of course was in the Commonwealth). The unintended consequence of this was to remove a potential flashpoint in Northern Ireland as nationalists were not disenfranchised. Tories once again don't know the history of their own country...
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