Political

It’s not just Tories who want to remove vote from half a million Indians and Pakistanis; idea has Labour supporters too

One of my most popular posts this year so far has been Liam Fox wants to kick half a million Indians and Pakistanis off the electoral register, so it’s great to see Tim Farron setting out very clearly Lib Dem opposition to the idea:

Fox is upset at a law which allows Commonwealth citizens living in the UK to vote in general elections. Leaving aside the blatant pandering to Ukip, his substantive point is just plain wrong. Those voters “who are not British citizens” in fact come from Ireland and the Commonwealth. Given the frequent suggestion emanating from the Tory benches that we should re-orient ourselves towards the Commonwealth and away from Europe, it’s bizarre to find similar voices totally at odds with this reasoning. Talk about mixed messages.

Under Fox’s plans, 345,000 Irish, 306,000 Indians, 180,000 Pakistanis, 73,000 Australians and 52,000 Zimbabweans would be ‘kicked off the electoral register’, along with Nigerians, Ghanaians, Sri Lankans and Canadians. I will fight tooth and nail against proposals to remove their right to vote.

But this isn’t just a policy football kicked around by just Fox and the chair of the influential backbench 1922 committee, Graham Brady. It’s also been looked at by Labour…

Let’s focus for a moment on what this means – the NHS nurse, the hard-pressed teacher and the bus driver, all of whom help to ensure our essential services keep running, will at a stroke lose their democratic voice.

I believe immigration has been a good thing, not just for our economy, but for our country as a whole. Many of the people who have the right to vote here are descended from families who fought alongside Britain during our darkest hour in World War Two. I cannot believe the Conservatives and Labour have considered the ramifications of such a policy. But I do believe that we should hold them to account for it.

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