The following was written by Paula Sharratt
World population 7 billion (source, United States Census Bureau)
Now if seven, or eight million people had drowned…
But like migrants fleeing war becoming numbers and ‘quotas’, so the excoriatingly slow process of disenfranchisement has been creeping up on us all in Britain. And we’re all the poorer for it.
17 million British men and women didn’t vote in the last election. 80,000 prisoners now belong to the privatised justice system rather than Great Britain or the European Union because they can’t vote. They’re in no-man’s land and we all know how hard it is to get back from no-man’s land. What will happen to them? Does anyone care?
We’re all diminished by a democratic process that desires some people to be permanent members of its club but keeps pushing out others that it doesn’t want to be part of the club by increasingly arduous forms of ‘supplying additional evidence’ to be able to vote.
Well that’s what’s happening here.
In our new registration system for voting, according to Gideon Seymour, more than 7 million voters who were previously on the register were not matched on the new database and would need to provide additional evidence of residence. If they failed to provide the extra information they could be removed from the electoral register.
Now, hang on a minute….who is making these decisions and at which part of the democratic process is the umbilical cord of connection to our shared history being cut? Why are some people in Britain worthy of an automatic right to vote or maybe even a vote that’s worth four or five times the vote of others and why are some people being so actively dissuaded from voting?
Why are some people certain that they can’t vote/shouldn’t vote/it’s not worth it for me to vote?
Let’s say it’s complicated and all bound up with the notion of a compliant population who are being socialised to see voting as a duty to keep things as they are. So beggars are on the streets because they have faulty genes, the streets are filthy because the people who use the streets are filthy, the whole world view that we are supposed to believe is that this is the way it is: this is reality, politics is just about greed and conspiracy and parliament, well, our privileged betters tell us, parliament is a creaking anachronism (that will cost some extortionate figure to regenerate), full of lobbies and careerists with their Early Day Motions.
It’s not a place where the results of universal suffrage are accounted for and tested, where everyone feels they are represented, they can see and hear themselves. Let’s be right parliament and the vote need to come together again.
Because voting, rather than being a right of everyone, restored and recuperated through new technologies is being slowly, slowly, slowly, incrementally pulled away from maybe 17 million people while at the same time their life chances diminish: the critical moral underpinning being that life itself only belongs to the already fit, able, happy, healthy, wealthy. Jobs and pensions, homes and holidays too only belong to bright, happy, healthy people who don’t complain. And these people are so well enfranchised that they don’t think they need to vote so they won’t mind that Rupert Murdoch’s Sky may be managing the online voting in 2020 but I will.
Because I believe that Ken Clarke’s ‘feral (yet materialistic) underclass’ could be transformed by a different way of looking at representation, voting and economics and I hope you do too.
By Paula Sharratt
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