With time running out for Rishi Sunak before the next general election, the Tories are frantically flipping through the playbook on how to steal an election.
Sunak’s first dodgy stratagem is bringing in photo IDs, which could disenfranchise as many as two million people. The best form of identity is a passport or driving licence. Many working people don’t have these documents and, at £82 for a passport and £40 for a licence, both remain out of reach for those paying high energy costs, using food banks and striking over poor pay.
Tories falsely claim the plan is to prevent voter fraud and impersonation. In the 2020 general election, seven – 7 – people were questioned over voter impersonation leading to no arrests and no prosecutions.
Helen Morgan, Liberal Democrat speaker on local government, said in Parliament, ‘Voter ID regulations are nothing short of voter suppression. (We) will stop at nothing to stop these unsavoury, Trumpian tactics that have no place in British democracy.’
How to Steal an Election the Westminster Way
Back in 1986, the Conservative-led Westminster City Council moved homeless people out of marginal wards and sold off council houses to people more likely to vote Conservative. The policy was ruled illegal and former council leader Dame Shirley Porter was found guilty of wilful misconduct. She paid £12.3 million in fines, kept her title and moved to Florida. The Conservatives hung on to Westminster.
How to steal an election by restricting the terms and requirements of registration is another three shell Tory trick. Restrictions include requiring documents to prove citizenship or identification, cumbersome obstacles for voter registration and limiting time to register.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in 2011 championed a law requiring people to show ‘proof of citizenship’ documents in order to register to vote, citing bogus claims of noncitizen voting. Most people don’t carry the required documents, a passport or a birth certificate. As a result, the law blocked 30,000 registrations, mainly black and minority citizens. The law was repealed in 2018 and reinstated by the Supreme Court with Trump appointees in 2020.
The Supreme Court came in for universal criticism after making George W Bush the 43rd US President in his disputed 2000 election battle with Democrat Al Gore. Bush shot into the public consciousness as the winner after his brother Jeb got on the phone to friends at Fox News and persuaded the network to call the election for George. According to David Moore, senior editor for Gallup Poll, even though the statement was retracted, the initial news item did incalculable damage to Al Gore’s chances of winning. Al grew a beard, gave up politics and thought about writing a book on how to steal an election but didn’t.
The Fake News Narrative
The best game plan on how to steal an election is with sheer, bare faced lies, as championed by Donald Trump and copied by Boris Johnson – masters of artifice, cheating, omission, prevarication, distortion, deception, calumny, sophistry, chicanery, exaggeration, fake news and false accusations that others are peddling fake news.
Combining lies with poverty might be Rishi Sunak’s best chance to steal the next general election. According to the Resolution Foundation, ‘absolute’ poverty is on course to hit almost a fifth of the population. Half a million more children are expected to fall below the breadline this financial year, bringing the total number of people in absolute poverty to 12.5 million across the UK, up from 11.2 million a year ago.
The rise in absolute poverty in 2023 – where households have less than 60% of the median income, is the highest in Europe and is coupled with low wages, low pensions, sky high rents, a housing shortage and ever increasing numbers of people suffering mental health problems.
While the news is dominated by dubious plans to stop the boats, illegal migrants, Sunak’s stance on the Israeli-Palestine crisis and Suella Braverman’s dog whistle call to the far right, voters are more likely to concentrate on these distractions than on the very fabric of society being ripped to shreds, the rising number of homeless people on the broken streets and hungry children in broken schools.
Hungry, homeless and mentally ill people don’t vote, taxpayers do, and a pre-election promise to cut taxes – always more beneficial to the rich than the poor – is one more way to steal an election.