Requiring ID at polling stations is not about protecting our democracy, it’s about limiting our democratic freedom.

Best for Britain has pointed to data which shows, as of 2015, 3.5 million citizens, or 7.5 per cent of the electorate, did not have access to any photo ID, meaning that while the move may stop a dozen complaints of fraud, it could also disenfranchise or disincentivise millions.

There is little evidence to suggest that electoral fraud is widespread in the UK. There were only six cases of electoral fraud in the last general election, and police data on allegations of electoral fraud since 2010 suggests that the number of allegations is in the low hundreds. There was only one conviction in 2017, and none in 2018. When we compare this to the tens of millions of votes cast, it makes the government's proposal for voter ID seem disproportionate.

Northern Ireland has required ID at polling stations since 2002. A crucial difference between our government's recent proposal and the practices in Northern Ireland is that voters without valid documentation could apply for a free ID card from their local council in Northern Ireland. When the UK government first announced voter ID in the Queen's speech in 2019, they claimed they would provide free ID to those who needed it. This was not mentioned in the notes for the 2021 Queen's speech, leading one to wonder if this idea has been dropped now.

The Government also plans to dismantle the Electoral Commission watchdog and de-fang Judicial Reviews, which overturned the Prime Minister’s unlawful prorogation of Parliament in 2019. Mayoral elections in England will be returned to First Past the Post – the only countries in Europe which still use this antiquated system for national legislatures are the UK and Belarus. This is of great concern to those who value the democratic process.

Taken together, these measures are a coordinated and insidious attack on the fabric of our democracy. They clearly show that the Government wants to avoid accountability, in parliament, in court, and at the ballot box, and it is vital that progressive parties work together to stop them.

It’s about time we made our voting system fair so that election results actually reflect the will of the people. Until we do, progressive parties must unite to resist this unchecked power grab from those at the top.

Kathryn Twelvetree

By email