If I were Dominic Cummings, this is one line I would push

My past self rebukes my present self for saying this, but there is one thing that Labour let slip over the last few days that the Tories would do well to seize upon.

On October 28th Labour submitted “wrecking amendments” to the bill that authorised the election that would have extended the franchise to sixteen and seventeen year olds, and also to EU citizens.

Nothing came of it. The two amendments were not selected for debate by the Deputy Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, on the grounds that they were not relevant to the motion. In normal times one would have assumed that of course amendments proposing major constitutional changes would not be permitted to be tacked on to another bill as an afterthought, but in the last days of the era of John Bercow there is no “of course” about it. He might well have seen votes for sixteen year olds and foreigners as his last gift to the nation. Fortunately his deputy was in the Speaker’s chair on this occasion.

The proposal to give the vote to 16-17 year olds was an obvious ploy to gather the votes of da yoof while they still know little of the world beyond what their teachers have told them. I would imagine that the sight of Labour advocating this arouses more weariness than outrage. Votes for foreigners is a different matter. Although the mainstream media lost interest as soon as it was clear that the Deputy Speaker would not allow the amendments, my subjective impression is that to many ordinary people the news that Labour apparently wants to add around three million non-citizens to the electoral roll almost eclipsed the news about the date of the election.

I may be wrong about this. I was abroad for the last week and did not spend much time on the internet. Thus what I did see might have been too small a sample from which to draw conclusions. On the other hand, perhaps the fact that I was only skim-reading allowed me to see the spike in anger more clearly. I was not in a position to collect hyperlinks, but, trust me, a lot of people saw this in terms of Labour wanting to replace its former voters.

Updated: 30th October 2019 — 8:03 pm


  1. Well yes. If your previous vote base have deserted you, this cannot possibly because you are doing soemthing wrong.
    The Party should elect a different people. Hopefully, one more dependent and grateful, or atleast fearful, that will vote the way they are told.
    The only surprising thing is that this actually made the news.
    Labour long since abandoned the working class.

  2. The media abandoned journalism when Labour abandoned the working classes.
    So no chance that point will be hammered. No newspaper offers even a sliver of Libertarian or Conservative opinion anymore it’s all just socialists or fascist solutions to problems caused by earlier socialists or fascists.

  3. I wonder why Natalie’s past self would rebuke her present self. It’s fair comment as far as I can see it.

    FWIW, for me democracy is a convenient way to prevent civil war. Nothing more, nothing less. Therefore, it is important that democracy reserves the franchise to potential participants in a war. I don’t think 16 and 17-year olds count. Ditto expats. If the franchise moves very much beyond the people who count democracy loses its legitimacy.

  4. Phineas P: “… it is important that democracy reserves the franchise to potential participants in a war.”

    That was the way in the ancient Greek city states — the Athenian citizens themselves (NOT their equivalent of MPs) voted to invade Sicily, and then those same voters got into the boats and started rowing. That particular vote did not work out too well for the Athenians, but it certainly was democratic.

    In the modern context, where Europe does not do war any more, maybe the closest approximation would be to limit the franchise to those who are paying the taxes — the Makers rather than the Takers. On the other hand, there is much to recommend the “Starship Troopers” approach of limiting the franchise to those who have demonstrated commitment to the body politic through military service.

    What seems unequivocal is that Universal Suffrage Democracy (which even includes dead people in certain parts of the US) is not a sustainable basis for any nation. But realistically there will be no way of stepping back from Universal Suffrage until after the inevitable collapse.

  5. to many ordinary people the news that Labour apparently wants to add around three million non-citizens to the electoral roll almost eclipsed the news about the date of the election.

    That this should anger non-Labour voters goes without saying. It’s a sort of vote inflation: your vote for how Britain should be governed is worth less because its effect is diluted with some 3 million non-citizen votes, as the flavour of soup is diluted if someone spits in it.

    Hardline socialists and communists of the past would presumably have seen nothing wrong in ballot-stuffing their way to victory over a democracy that was ‘bourgeois’, ‘capitalist’ or whatever adjective served their purpose. Modern (in date) Labour is led by such people, while the Remoaners are virtually defined as those who think they should be treated as winning a vote even when they lose it in boring pedantic fact. (Hence the proposal.)

    That leaves those whose opinions matter about this: customary Labour voters who this time might vote Brexit, or (some with noses held) Tory. What do they think about Labour getting foreigners to do the job British people will no longer do (enough of), namely vote Labour?

    I agree with Natalie that there’s an opportunity here, and nothing to be lost in keeping this as much in the public domain as possible. If social media noticed it though mainstream media did not, that’s like a focus group finding it matters to the voters.

    It also matters to my principles!

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