From The Independent: Tory Government plans to introduce voter ID checks are to be challenged in court on the basis they deter people from voting.
From Business Insider: Theresa May’s government has been found in contempt of parliament after it refused to comply with a motion passed by MPs demanding that it release the full legal advice on the prime minister’s Brexit deal.
MPs voted by 311 to 293 to find May’s government in contempt on Tuesday afternoon. It is the first time a UK government has been found in contempt by MPs in parliamentary history.
From The Times: Charities and companies working with Universal Credit claimants have been banned from criticising or harming the reputation of the Tory work and pensions secretary Esther McVey.
[Read article on The Times website…] (paywalled, but free registration grants access to two articles per week)
From The Guardian: The final plans for revamped parliamentary constituencies have been published, which would cut the number of seats in the House of Commons from 650 to 600, proposals condemned by Labour and electoral campaigners as unfair and pointless.
Labour has fiercely opposed the idea, and with some Conservatives expected to rebel it remains by no means certain that the plan, which has to be approved by parliament, will be put into effect. The government has not yet announced a timetable for presenting the proposals to parliament.
Initial proposals for constituencies in England and Wales brought calculations that the changes could cost Labour 23 seats, with the party calling it “gerrymandering”.
Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Cat Smith, said the final recommendations amounted to “an undemocratic power grab”. She said: “With no plans to reduce the number of ministers, the government is weakening the role of parliament and creating unprecedented levels of executive dominance at the expense of backbenchers, when parliament is meant to be taking back control. Cutting the number of MPs by 50 as we prepare to leave the European Union is further proof this government is clamouring to tighten its grip on power.”
From Full Fact:
In a single day across five councils, twice as many people didn’t vote due to having incorrect ID, as have been accused…
From ScotRef: SNP MP Mhairi Black on the appalling anti-democratic tactics used by Tory MPs in the House of Commons to filibuster out Private Members Bills they don’t like.
(Mhairi was talking on a pro-Scottish independence platform, but whatever your views on that topic this is a good watch!)
Everyone needs to watch this at least once. And I mean *everyone* 👍⚔️🗡️⚔️🗡️⚔️#ScotRef
Posted by ScotRef on Saturday, April 7, 2018
From The Guardian: A controversial trial of forcing voters to show ID could have been illegal because it was incorrectly imposed by ministerial diktat rather than through parliament, senior barristers have said.
The legal opinion by two barristers from Blackstone, a leading chambers in London, concluded that ministers acted beyond the scope of the law in ordering the trial of compulsory voter ID in five boroughs in England at last month’s local elections.
If upheld by a formal court challenge, the view could prevent any further trials or a national rollout of voter ID taking place without the formal consent of parliament, which could prove difficult given objections to the idea.
The scheme, in which people in Bromley, Woking, Gosport, Watford and Swindon were forced to show varying types of ID before being allowed to vote, prompted concern from charities, who warned it might put off more vulnerable groups such as elderly people and the homeless.
It was also criticised as a solution in search of a problem after it emerged that none of the trial boroughs had reported any cases of voter impersonation in recent years.
From The Independent: An estimated 4,000 people were turned away from casting their vote in the five areas trialling controversial voter ID checks.
Voter ID checks ‘calculated effort’ by Tory government to make voting harder for disadvantaged groups, warn experts
From The Independent: Tory Government plans to tighten voter identification measures appear to be a “calculated effort” by ministers to make voting harder for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, experts have warned.
From The Guardian: Tory Government plans that will force people to prove their identities at polling stations in May’s local elections risk disenfranchising members of ethnic minority communities, according to a leaked letter to ministers from the equality and human rights watchdog.
In a move that will fuel controversy over the treatment of migrants in the UK following the Windrush scandal, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written to the Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, raising its serious concern that the checks will deter immigrants and others from participating in the democratic process.
Under the new government voting rules, being trialled in several local authorities at the 3 May local elections, people will be asked at polling stations to produce documents proving their identity – such as a passport or driving licence – before casting their vote. Currently, no such proof is required.
The EHRC says evidence of supposed fraud is minimal and warns that there is a real risk that legal residents who might not have a passport or driving licence – or might be reluctant to produce them at polling stations – could be disenfranchised as a result.
From Belfast Telegraph: Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy has described proposed changes to Northern Ireland’s electoral boundaries as “gerrymandering to placate the DUP”.
An official map obtained by the Press Association shows changes to electoral seats in Northern Ireland to facilitate a reduction from 18 seats to 17 – something which comes as part of an overall reduction in parliamentary seats from 650 to 600.
“The Boundary Commission proposed and consulted on new electoral boundaries in 2016 as part of an overall plan to reduce the number of MPs here from 18 to 17,” Mr Molloy said.
“Unsurprisingly, the DUP rejected the plan despite the fact that the proposals reflected the terms and remit under which the Boundary Commission was established.”
From the Daily Mirror: It’s thought the boundary review will hit Labour seats harder than Tory ones.
Research suggests the Tories could have won an outright majority in 2017 under a reformed system.
From Daily Mirror: Theresa May has refused to appoint a diverse panel to the Grenfell Tower inquiry, it emerged today. It is feared that the retired Court of Appeal judge lacks first-hand experience of the complex cultural factors underpinning the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
From The Scottish Sun: The Scottish Tories would be the winners of controversial planned changes to MP seat boundaries, it emerged today.
Government passes controversial ‘power grab’ motion allowing it to pass Brexit laws without Parliament
From The Independent: A controversial motion granting the Tory government the power to scrutinise Brexit legislation without wider parliamentary input has been passed.
From Left Foot Forward: Tory changes to election boundaries will redraw the political map by ignoring those with the least power – the poor, young people, and ethnic minorities.
That’s the stark warning from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) over proposals from the independent Boundary Commission review ordered by the (now defunct) Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.
The ERS highlighted five major failings in the plans and their threats to a healthy democracy:
- Changes are based on registered voters rather than actual population
- Changes are based on outdated figures that leave out two million people
- Changes ride roughshod over communities
- Fewer MPs means more cabinet power
- Meanwhile, we are getting more Lords and no PR.
From HuffPost UK: Labour is likely to be hit hardest by changes to parliamentary boundaries, potentially losing 30 seats altogether.
Two hundreds Labour seats could be affected by plans to cut the number of Westminster constituencies, new analysis has found.
The boundary review will see the number of MPs in the Commons reduced from 650 to 600.
Analysis by election expert and Tory peer Lord Hayward indicated that Labour will “suffer most” as a result of the proposals – leading to claims of “gerrymandering” from the Opposition.