On Wednesday there were a number of amendments set out in the House of Lords for the Elections Bill. One of them was to reject the call from the Government for people who vote at future elections to be forced to supply a visual identification. This is very important as many people do not have a passport or a driving licence and it is deeply disturbing how this is treated by the Government. In certain cases the Government demands that people have a passport such as when registering online for their HMRC account or sometimes a passport or driving licence is what they require. The amendment has widened the ID requirements to include more accessible non-photographic ID such as a bank statements, library cards or Young Person’s Railcards. Many of us would rather go much further and simply require people to confirm where they live and what their name is which is how things are currently organised.
As it happened one of the Labour Peers, Baroness Osamor did vote against the amendment. However three Conservatives voted in favour of it who were Kenneth Baker, David James and David Willetts. Given that Baker and Willetts are both people who have had very senior roles in previous Conservative Governments this is very significant. Those in favour of the amendement were also a number of Labour including Steve Bassam, Liberal Democratics, Greens including Jenny Jones, Crossbench and Plaid Cymru. It was good that Steve and Jenny are both Brighton Peers. Sadly along with Conservatives that were opposed to this broading element were some Crossbench and the DUP and UUP Peers. The list of voters can be obtained from here.
The Electoral Reform Society sent out these words yesterday signed by Jess Garland
We’ve long warned about the dangers of voter ID, a policy which risks shutting millions out from the ballot box. But this amendment, while not scrapping the policy altogether, widens the accepted IDs making it far easier to cast a vote on election day. But this isn’t the end. The Government are almost certain to attempt to resurrect the plans when the bill returns to the commons in a few weeks. We need your help to tell them no. They must listen to the Lords, and the concerns of voters up and down the country, and admit that photographic ID is a costly and dangerous mistake.
And so they have set out a petition which is available here that is entitled “Stop the government’s expensive plans that could lock millions out of the polling station” When I signed it this morning it already had over 80,000 signatures and it would be fantastic if we could get far more, perhaps up to a million?