Tag Archives: elections bill

Wallace: Undermining the roots of our democracy

If you’ve read Sally Hamwee’s account last week of the way that the government pushed the Nationality and Borders Bill through both Houses of Parliament, and of the failure of the Labour Party in the Lords to stand up against some of its most illiberal elements, you won’t be surprised to hear that the same happened at the end of the parliamentary session to the Elections Bill – rightly condemned by Alastair Carmichael in an article for the Times as ‘undermining the roots of our democracy.’

The Bill arrived in the Lords with a report from the Commons Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs, drafted after it had been through the Commons, which declared the Bill ‘unfit for purpose’. Ministers simply ignored the committee’s criticisms. They similarly ignored the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on Political Finance, published last summer, and the earlier warnings of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s Russia Report that the Electoral Commission needed stronger powers to prevent foreign funding and influence corrupting UK campaigns.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Let’s welcome the end of the 15 year rule

Legislation is in the pipeline to restore voting rights to around a million British nationals who have been disenfranchised by living overseas for over 15 years. See James Churchill’s article of 9th February in LDV for more aspects on the subject.

Reaction to previous articles has brought to light a number of misconceptions about this significant group, many of whom are potential Lib Dem voters and even members.

As representatives of Lib Dems Overseas we would like to allay any concerns or disinformation by addressing some of the most frequent points that have been raised in the past.

Why should Brits abroad get to vote when they don’t pay tax?

Most in fact pay tax in their host countries but Brits overseas are also liable to a range of taxes in the UK, such as income from UK rentals, pensions and Inheritance Tax which applies wherever they live in the world if they are deemed (as the vast majority are) UK domiciled.

Why don’t they just vote in their host countries?

Most Brits are transient in their host countries and in any event would not be allowed to vote unless they adopted citizenship, which in turn would normally entail cutting ties with the UK and potentially losing their passports.

Why would they be interested in voting if they no longer live in the UK?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Lib Dems Abroad about to join the party’s campaigning mainstream

This week, I was pleased to join forces with our Lib Dem Peers at the second reading of the Elections Bill at the House of Lords.

For us at Lib Dems Abroad, the Elections Bill is a gamechanger that will bring us into the campaigning mainstream of the party.

A huge 8% of all Brits are living outside the UK. The likely abolition of the 15-year rule will allow all Brits abroad of voting age the right to register and vote at the next UK General Election.

Our members, led by the three “local” party chairs – Lib Dems in Europe (Tom McAdam), France (Jenny Shorten) and Overseas (Mark Iliffe) – and myself, will fly the flag for the party by organising an extensive voter registration campaign for British citizens across the world once the law is implemented and the government’s own campaign has started.

Brits living abroad will need to be included in the party’s manifesto for the first time (previous Lib Dem manifestos had already supported the abolition of the 15-year rule and overseas constituencies).

Then, of course, Lib Dems Abroad will work in partnership with UK local parties to coordinate the party’s campaign for the overseas vote at the next UK General Election in 2-3 years’ time, groundwork for which will start shortly.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 23 Comments

Lib Dems Abroad about to join the party’s campaigning mainstream

Yesterday, I was pleased to join forces with our Lib Dem Peers at the second reading of the Elections Bill at the House of Lords.

For us at Lib Dems Abroad, the Elections Bill is a gamechanger that will bring us into the campaigning mainstream of the party.

A huge 8% of all Brits are living outside the UK. The likely abolition of the 15-year rule will allow all Brits abroad of voting age the right to register and vote at the next UK General Election.

Our members, led by the three “local” party chairs – Lib Dems in Europe (Tom McAdam), France (Jenny Shorten) and Overseas (Mark Iliffe) – and myself, will fly the flag for the party by organising an extensive voter registration campaign for British citizens across the world once the law is implemented and the government’s own campaign has started.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

‘Elections Bill makes it harder to vote and undermines our democratic rights’ – Alistair Carmichael

The BBC reports:

MPs have backed proposals to introduce mandatory voter ID for elections, a major change to the electoral process in the UK.

Voters will be required to show photo ID at polling stations under measures in the Elections Bill.

Labour says the plan could reduce turnout at elections and discriminate against marginalised groups.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Lib Dems will oppose Elections Bill in Parliament today

How should decisions about how our elections are run be made?

You would hope that all the parties would get together and come up with something that we should all agree with. Or at least a truly independent body would annoy everyone equally by coming up with things that some like and some don’t.

Here’s how not to do it – let a Government which has more MPs than its vote share deserves change the rules to suit itself. That is far from democratic.

The Conservatives are looking to the example of the experts in voter suppression, the US Republicans, with their Elections Bill which comes before Parliament today. It is blatantly partisan in many aspects.

The first is that it compels voters to show ID to vote. They couch it in language around preventing fraud, which is pretty much non existent anyway. But you have to look at the impact that would have. Who would be most likely not to vote? People of colour, poorer people, younger people. In short, people who are less likely to vote Conservative.

The second is that it gives the Government more control over the Electoral Commission, which is supposed to be independent. Again, not a good sign.

The third is that it will constrain third party campaigners such as trade unions.

Don’t just take my word for it, take the word of someone who is both a former electoral commissioner and a Liberal Democrat. David Howarth was MP for Cambridge until 2010. He cautions us to make sure we don’t forget the other nasties the bill contains while we argue over Voter ID.

In an article for Open Democracy he sets out why the “poisonous” bill would cement Tory rule.

He describes how the Bill hands control of the Electoral Commission to Government ministers:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments
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