Friday 12 November 2021

The Tories support only their own version of democracy


There have been plenty of studies over the years which show the correlation between the probability that people will register to vote and then turn out to do so on the one hand, and relative poverty or wealth on the other. There is no doubt that relative affluence corresponds to an increased likelihood of voting. By the same token, that correlation is reflected in the support for different parties – parties which draw support from the more affluent citizens benefit directly from the differing propensity to vote – and a lower overall turnout thus works to their advantage. Those few simple facts of life are all that is required to understand why the Tories in the UK are so keen to make it harder for people to vote; their insistence on presenting ID will have a disproportionate negative impact on the support of their opponents.

Conversely, of course, making it easier for people to vote potentially damages the Conservatives; increasing the turnout will disproportionately benefit their opponents. It’s easy to see, therefore, why the Tories have turned their faux outrage blasters to the maximum setting to attack the experiments being proposed by the Welsh Government for next year’s council elections. However, in accusing the Welsh Government of deliberately choosing Labour areas in which to run the experiments they have not only ignored the basic facts of the selection process (that all council areas were given the opportunity, but only some responded) they have also spectacularly failed to understand the electoral dynamics referred to above. If I wanted to give Labour a chance to win more councils by making it easier for people to vote in carefully selected areas, I wouldn’t select areas where Labour is already the dominant party. I’d select areas like Monmouth or the Vale of Glamorgan, where an increase in non-Tory votes might be enough to dislodge a few Tory councillors; I wouldn’t be trying to just stack up even larger majorities for Labour in existing strongholds. If this is, as the Tories claim, a sneaky attempt by Labour to give themselves an unfair advantage, then Labour would be staggeringly incompetent as vote-riggers.

The underlying attitude of the Tories is revealing – when encouraging more people to take part in the democratic process by making it easier to vote is regarded as being some form of cheating, it’s reasonable to ask to what extent the Welsh Tories believe in democracy at all. But then, looking to their masters in London, I think we already know the answer to that. Back in the 1970s, it was Dafydd Iwan who sang “Rwy’n credu mewn democratiaeth – fy nemocratiaeth i”. I somehow doubt that he intended it as an instruction manual for the Tories.


Jonathan said...

This is so mixed up. Lets start in the US. Long history of voter fraud. One example is "Joe Kennedy was too mean to buy JFK a landslide". Historically, Democrats used fraud efficiently and systematically. Yes, Republicans were caught out in my second home of NC. But generally, Rs are hopeless at fraud because they don't care or try hard enough to do it well. Ludicrous videos of fraud by Dems in key States in 2020 but the legal systems freaked out at what would happen if Courts overturned elections. Even so, watch for evidence to surface late, and now irrelevant eg Arizona. But it explains the US obsession with ID for voting, for or against. Vital in the US to stop fraud and yes, the Dems say it is voter suppression like Jim Crow. All against actual background of widespread voter fraud in the US. So does the UK import a US solution via social media for a problem which doesn't exist in the UK? Like BLM?
Correct me if I'm wrong but voter fraud is not widespread here, with limited but well-documented exceptions like Tower Hamlets. So why are the Tories following the Rs? Could be exactly as you say. Or, this being Britain, are we dealing with a tinder-box ie fraud in Asian communities eg Tiger Bay as well as Tower Hamlets, but noone will come out and say so? On balance, even though I don't want an "Ausweise bitte" state, I put a high value on election integrity. I have to show ID to dump waste at Manorowen dump near Fishguard, thank you Covid overreach. Maybe ID to vote is (gritted teeth!) a price worth paying?

John Dixon said...

I don't know enough about US politics to know whether there is or is not a long history of voter fraud. Clearly, though, money talks, and the controls on spending (or lack thereof) favour those with the biggest war chests. Whether that favours one party over another is a separate question. And merely spending more isn't itself voter fraud and won't be stopped by any requirement for voter ID. Even if votes were being bought directly in a more transactional sense, voter ID wouldn't do much to stop it. I'm not entirely convinced by the suggestion that "Ludicrous videos of fraud by Dems in key States in 2020" have been suppressed by fears of the legal system; that sounds a little bit like venturing into conspiracy theory territory.

What we do know, though, is two things:
a) voter fraud is almost non-existent in the UK. (Although I accept your point that there have been some noted exceptions - the question, though, is surely whether there have been other unnoticed exceptions. If the exceptions are very few, and are being caught and dealt with, implementing voter ID is a sledgehammer approach.)
b) non-possession of acceptable ID is more prevalent in some sectors of society than others, and is correlated directly with relative wealth, which in turn is directly correlated to party support.

Whether presenting ID to vote is a "price worth paying" surely depends on what we think we're getting for that price. Exclusion of a significant number of people from the democratic process in order to prevent an almost non-existent problem looks like a high price to me. And the fact that it just happens to be of benefit to the current ruling party doesn't look like an innocent accident either.

I'd join you in not wanting "an 'Ausweise bitte' state", but any such state has to start somewhere. If it is 'acceptable' to demand ID for voting, it makes it more likely that it will become 'acceptable' to demand ID in other spheres. Beware thin ends of large wedges.

Spirit of BME said...

I can but endorse Johnathan’s words, as my contacts in the US backs him up and some more.
If there are laws that call for qualifications, then it reasonable to ask those that wish to participate to show their qualification, as you would do in other areas of life like in the employment of doctors or truck drivers.
Donald Johns downfall in the 2020 was planned the day after he was elected, as he had declared war on the ‘Swamp’ and he had to go no matter how, some say that another one term president -JFK ran into the same problem, but from that tragic event came forth a great president, namely LBJ.
J.R. Biden Jr won the election without talking to the media or meeting the electorate, and from the ‘Swamp’ point of view -job done and he will stay in post if he can still read a tele-prompt.
Looking at the UK ,it is much more difficult to assess what really happens, sure Labour rig elections and the Tories always have their hands caught in the tile, but are bigger things afoot?, like why did Labour not call for an legal inquiry into the Red Wall voting, or why does one type of Labour leader like, Foot, Kinnock and Corbyn never pass the test – one has to wonder.
Simon Jenkins book ‘Thatcher and sons’ is worth a read.