On Tuesday, the government looks set to introduce legislation that will make it harder for millions of ordinary people to vote.
Now a leading Conservative MP has spoken out against the government’s plans, adding his weight to a major coalition against mandatory voter ID for UK elections.
Speaking to the Independent, David Davis MP said mandatory voter ID – which is set to be in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday– represents “yet another unnecessary ID card approach from the government”.
The former cabinet minister Mr Davis noted that the plans are “addressing a problem that is not there” and “impinging on people’s privacy and convenience.”
He added that the proposals – to bar people who don’t show ID from voting – are ‘illiberal’: “It’s an illiberal solution in pursuit of a non-existent problem. If you’ve got an ID card, you’re putting a barrier in the way of people to exercise their own democratic rights, which is not necessary and shouldn’t be there.”
He’s right, and he’s not alone in condemning the plans. Dozens of civil society groups have spoken out against mandatory ID – from Age UK to Stonewall, Liberty, Operation Black Vote, Silver Voices and Centrepoint.
[Edit: Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has now branded the government’s proposal on voter ID as “total bollocks”]
It’s clear why. This policy is a solution in search of a problem. Voting is safe and secure in the UK, meaning this policy is just an unnecessary barrier to democratic participation. Ministers need to listen to these concerns and drop these costly plans.
Millions of people lack photo ID. So rather than inventing problems, the government should focus on the real issues in politics – including the nine million people missing from the electoral roll, and the glaring loopholes in our lobbying laws.
At a cost of up to £20m per election, mandatory ID is an expensive and dangerous distraction. These proposals should be dropped before they do irreparable damage to political equality in the UK.
URGENT: Sign our petition to scrap the plans today.