What if David Cameron is a Gerrymandering PM?

November 27, 2015 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

On 1 June, Frankie Boyle the Scottish comedian used the Comment is Free section of the Guardian to ask the question “What if David Cameron is an Evil Genius?””Š-“ŠSee


Prime Minister David Cameron is certainly evil but lacks the required judgement and has insufficent ability to cover his tracks. The Conservative win in the 7 May General Election had nothing to do with his intelligence or his lack of it. That win was due to the Coalition Government taking political control of the Electoral Rolls via the 2013 Individual Electoral Registration and Administration Act, and using the power of parliament to deliberately remove millions of non-Conservative voters from these rolls. See the article “A Gerrymandered Election and a Flawed Mandate” authored by Bryan Gould and me at http://londonprogressivejournal.com/article/view/2205/a-gerrymandered-election-and-a-flawed-mandate

The Individual Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 is probably the most democracy-damaging Act ever passed in any Western nation. The Coalition Government could not easily pass a legal act forbidding non-conservative voters the vote”Š-“Šthat would make its intentions far too clear”Š-“Šso under Cameron’s leadership it did what was apparently considered as the “next best” thing”Š-“Šslicing away at the democratic foundations of the British state by using the 2013 IER to disenfranchise mainly non-Conservative voters”Š-“Šthe poor, students, the black and middle east (BME) communities, women (who have borne the brunt of the financial cuts so far), relocating voters, tenants, and those dependent on benefits. That 2013 IER Act gives the British Government complete control over the electoral rolls”Š-“Šthe power to abandon the annual the Household Electoral review (HER) in any year; the power to decide whether to destroy previous, more widely based, HERs which have a more complete register of parliamentary electors; the power to create new versions of the electoral roll using the review powers of the Government; the power to decide, on a partisan basis, which “updated” or version of the electoral roll will be used in any General Election; and the power to control Britain’s future through the continued gerrymandering of the Electoral Roll without any constraint or oversight of Government activities in this area.

During the 2015 General Election Cameron stated that he would do anything to remain Prime Minister. He clearly has. The UK Electoral Rolls are meant to be an objective register of all these people over 18 who have the right to vote in a British General Election. The Government of the day is not meant to pass any Act restricting the right to vote by disenfranchising millions of its people for partisan political advantage. Yet that is exactly what the Coalition Government has done.

The Coalition Deputy Prime Minister, David Clegg, who agreed to the Coalition Government trebling of student fees in English Higher Education from £3,000 a year to £9,000 a year, voted for the 2013 IER which disenfranchised 920,000 students studying in England. There was a 2001 trial run of the IER Act in Northern Ireland (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_Fraud_%28Northern_Ireland%29_Act_2002 ) which records that “In August 2002 the last register of electors compiled [in Northern Ireland] under the old system contained nearly 1.2 million names, while the first register under the new system, published in December 2002, contained less than 1.1 million names, losing some 120,000 names for a net reduction of 10%.” Many of these disenfranchised were students, and it is reasonable to assume Clegg knew all about that. Not content with trebling student fees when he had promised he wouldn’t, Clegg voted for disenfranchising 920,000 students who were no longer likely to vote Liberal Democrat or Conservative.

The history of Conservative gerrymandering during the last 30 years is instructive. Thatcher’s Community Charge, commonly known as the Poll Tax, removed millions of voters from the electoral rolls and provided the first pollsters-defying and fourth successive Conservative victory through gerrymandering. (See https://medium.com/@georgetaitedwards/thatcher-s-poll-tax-gerrymander-112ffe2e918e) Poll taxes have never been about raising government funds. Any mention of the Community Charge as a Poll Tax, which is what it was, immediately raises an objection from Conservatives that the tax should be referred to as a Community Charge because Poll Taxes everywhere and always have been used to deny poorer and disadvantaged sections of the electorate the vote.
The Poll Tax initially reduced the Electoral Rolls by over 4m voters, the “bedroom tax” is still on its way to reduce the rolls by about 1.5 million voters, and the 2013 IER Act further reduced the Electoral Rolls by 5.5 million voters, with a further 7m voters are reported as likely to drop off the register by December 2015 if they do not provide identifying data.

It is very, very unwise for Cameron and the Conservative Government to imagine that gerrymandering on this epic scale could possibly not be noticed and would be acceptable to the British people. The hated Poll Tax provided a fourth unlikely Conservative victory and the weak and undistinguished John Major Government. The 2013 IER Act, if a greater measure of democracy is not restored in the United Kingdom, could result in stunning Conservative victories perhaps forever. Conservative Governments could choose, as the Coalition Government has chosen, a limited subset of voters which were mainly conservative and could continue to deny the proper operation of the democratic process in the United Kingdom for much of the 21st century. Only a very unwise person could imagine that process could continue for decades.

It would not be so bad if the Cameron Government had any positive programme for higher growth in the United Kingdom or any understanding of economic growth. But they do not. (For a much better economic understanding , see https://medium.com/@georgetaitedwards/shimomuran-economics-is-the-most-significant-advance-ever-made-in-economic-understanding-and-the-e540e58bf270) Osborne thinks economics is only about the Government making economies. The major programme of the 2015 Conservative Government is the victimisation of the groups they have disenfranchised. Access to higher education in the UK now costs £9,000 a year and higher education in England is becoming as it was in previous centuries”Š-“Ša privilege-creating enclave for the rich. 75% of the people affected by the “Bedroom Tax” are disabled and that tax is a deliberate attack on the living standards of disabled people who generally do not vote Conservative. The reduction of benefits to poorer people who are often members of the African, Asian and Middle Eastern Communities is a racialist measure whatever its political or cost-saving justification. The denial of voting rights to women who are occupying poorly paid jobs is an appalling reversal of women’s hard-won right to vote. Cameron could have better judgement, but he hasn’t. His major programme is an attack on the living standards of the non-Conservative voters.

Davis Cameron is no “Evil Genius.” He is unfortunately a gerrymandering politician, along with his cronies. He is a kind of British Nixon, a lack of brightness might not be his problem, his problem is a lack of sound judgement in this and many other issues. The House of Commons tried to stop the progress of the Individual Registration and Administration Bill 2013 and their concerns were noted on an Early Day Motion proposed by Valerie Vaz and duly recorded at http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/2208. That motion reads:

“That this House notes with concern the potential implications for democracy of the Government’s proposals to introduce individual electoral registration before the 2015 elections; further notes that the Government has decided there will be no electoral canvass in 2014; is concerned by the Electoral Commission’s view that the level of completeness of the electoral register could fall from approximately 90 per cent. to around 65 per cent. as a result of the complexity of the changes and the Government’s opt out proposal, whereby it would be no longer compulsory to co-operate with electoral registration officers; is further concerned that registration under these changes is likely to be lower in inner-city areas and among the young; further notes that this may have important implications for the population of Walsall South; recognises that the electoral register is of vital importance not only for enabling people to vote but also for determining future representation and electoral boundaries; and calls on the Government to undertake a full canvass in 2014 in order to explain any changes and maintain completeness of the register, to promote the importance of electoral registration as an important civic duty, and to ensure legitimate democratic representation.”

The Coalition Government charged on, to gerrymander the electoral rolls and produce a partisan advantage through that Act. There was no electoral canvass in 2014. The level of completeness of the electoral rolls has fallen substantially, partly because there is no longer any compulsion to provide the required information to the Electoral Registration Officers. And the Coalition Government created a reduced version of the Electoral Rolls so that they could subvert democracy and bring into play that “Electoral Roll” which maximised their partisan advantage, while claiming it was all being done to avoid abuses in electoral registration.

The first attempt to implement the IER 2013 Act was “Confirmation Live Run” (CLR) conducted in July 2014 where

“Entries for electors that could be positively matched were confirmed and transferred directly to the new IER register. Those individuals not matched were written to by their ERO and asked to re-register by providing additional information (National Insurance number (NINO) and date of birth). Based on the CLR data matching (figure 1 below): 87% of entries on the June registers in England and Wales”Š-“Štotalling 36.9 million register entries”Š-“Šwere positively matched and directly transferred to the new IER register. 13% of entries”Š-“Štotalling approximately 5.5 million”Š-“Šcould not be matched.”

So an overview of the UK “Electoral rolls” position would read that the number of total potential voters over 18 and entitled to vote could be about 46.2 million plus 7.5 missing voters, or 53.7 million potential total voters. The development of the three parliamentary electoral roll lists which could have been used for the GE 2015 were:

1 Electoral Roll List 1 (ELR1) : ONS 2013 voters on the Electoral Roll: 46.2 million voters. This was the list the Cabinet promised would be used, but it wasn’t, because it would have produced a Labour-SNP government.

2 Electoral Roll List 2 (ERL2) : CLR June/July 2014 IER-reduced English Voters: 36.9 million. This was the first IER “Confirmation Live Run” list which matched voters against Department of Work and Pensions records and which disenfranchised millions (compared to the ONS list) of English-based largely non-conservative voters by removing them from the rolls.

3 Electoral List 3: Section 5.6 of the Parliamentary Standard Note SN/PC/06764 on Individual Electoral Registration updated on 3 February 2015, prepared by Isobel White of the Parliament and Constitution Centre, states that:

“The final match rate, after matching with DWP and local data, across Great Britain was 87%. These figures mean that overall approximately 40.5 million electors were matched.”

And 5.7 million potential voters were disenfranchised, compared with the ONS 2013 list. This was the updated “best available” electoral roll resulting from the implementation if the 2013 IER Act.

Now suppose you were a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who lacked judgement and your government had taken over the control of the electoral rolls and that takeover was so complete that you thought nobody could see what you were doing. And suppose you would, as you had announced to the world, “Do anything to remain Prime Minister.” Might you be tempted to use the latest 2013 IER Act list which more or less guaranteed the election of a Conservative Government? And might the Cabinet Office be persuaded to say, as they promised would occur, that the December 2013 ONS list was used in the 7 May 2015 General Election when it wasn’t?

© George Tait Edwards 2015

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