The Queen's speech yesterday included the intention to introduce an obligation to show photo ID before voting. As oppressive unnecessary gerrymandering goes, this is brazen.
The UK does not have a significant problem with electoral fraud. It sounds plausible that it might have, but all the evidence confirms the opposite. In 2019, of 595 alleged cases investigated by the police, only four led to a conviction. The smallest majority in the General Election that year was 57.
The government's line is that "showing identification to vote is a reasonable approach to combat the inexcusable potential for voter fraud", but potential is not the same as reality and this move would simply disenfranchise a significant number of voters.
A pilot scheme of voter ID checks was held in 10 local authority areas in 2019 which resulted in 2000 people being turned away, 750 of whom failed to return. Three different models were trialled, one of which merely allowed voters to turn up with their poll card, so it's significant that the government has chosen to adopt the more draconian reqiurement for full-on photo ID.
It won't just be driving licences and passports that are valid, the government has signalled that certain other photo-based ID documents will be acceptable. There's also a suggestion that local councils will provide photo ID free of charge where necessary, as they currently do in Northern Ireland. But this remains an additional unnecessary imposition for no obvious reason other than to deter certain unwanted voters.
It's no use sounding surprised about this. It was clearly signalled in the Conservative manifesto eighteen months ago, so if you voted Tory you've essentially already agreed.
I've been reassured by the general outburst of outrage these proposals have elicited, and similarly appalled by the mendacious smirk on the face of a government intent on biasing the electoral system in its favour. Assuming their huge parliamentary majority ensures this moral travesty goes through, imagine how much worse a fifth term could be.