The Tories have facilitated a trend towards totalitarianism - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Tony McCobb, Kirk Ella.

Trevor Black asks ‘Does the will of the people count for anything?’ (January 29). The question suggests we are seeing “a drift towards totalitarianism, where policies are imposed against the will of the people”.

This drift usually starts by gradually commandeering the electoral system, the media and rule of law to government advantage. That happened, for example, in Nazi Germany, and more recently in Hungary, and to a lesser extent in Poland.

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Our country’s electoral system is being slowly gerrymandered, partly by excluding certain kinds of voters. Mandatory photo ID for voting was allegedly to prevent fraud, ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut,’ according to my Tory MP.

A voter placing a ballot paper in the ballot box. PIC: Rui Vieira/PA WireA voter placing a ballot paper in the ballot box. PIC: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
A voter placing a ballot paper in the ballot box. PIC: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

In the 2019 general, local and European elections there were two, yes just two, prosecutions for electoral fraud out of 59 million registered voters (ONS). Only certain forms of ID were permitted – an older person’s bus pass was acceptable but a younger person’s was not.

Younger people are less likely to vote Conservative. Other recognised forms of identity were a passport or a driving licence, potentially excluding younger and less advantaged voters.

The House of Lords proposed many other valid forms of ID, but all were rejected with the intent of shoring up the traditional vote. Jacob Rees-Mogg confessed to voter suppression last May when he admitted that these “ID rules came back to bite the Conservatives” in the local elections. This one unnecessary rule costs us the taxpayers millions, and has the potential to exclude millions of voters.

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The government has also replaced proportional representation (PR) elections for various bodies by the infamous First Past the Post, which in Europe is used only by Putin’s ally, Belarus. Knowing that PR had the potential to increase the number of non-Conservative Mayors or Police and Crime Commissioners, the government reinstated a system which could more easily lead to winning without a genuine majority.

A further nail was hammered into democracy’s coffin this week when the Electoral Commission, the guardian of our voting system, was forced to follow a government’s political direction. Democratic scrutiny of ministerial decisions, about elections and many other areas, has been abolished.

The House of Lords certainly needs reforming, but a second chamber plays an important role in scrutinising laws. Over the last 13 years the House of Lords has been turned into the largest European parliamentary chamber, 20 per cent bigger than the House of Commons itself, and second only in numbers to the Chinese Parliament.

The government has bloated the House of Lords with its own appointees, many of them known only for donations or other contributions. So much for democratic scrutiny.

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Totalitarianism is also achieved through media takeovers. Some 70 per cent of the written media in this country is Conservative-owned, much of it by foreigners. Important BBC posts are filled by government appointees.

Nadine Dorries as Culture Secretary also tried to abolish the independent Channel 4 because its news coverage was often too ‘embarrassing.’

Mr. Black condemns “the political classes” for frustrating “the will of the people.” However, the government, the most powerful “political class,” has steered this drift into totalitarian features without producing genuinely democratic benefits for anyone. Before casting aspersions on other European countries, we might look closer to home and agree with David Davis, former Brexit Minister: “if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”(2012)

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