How David Cameron’s Coalition Government Stole the 2015 General Election
By George Tait Edwards
This article is a slightly edited extract (from section 3.9) of the book ‘’How David Cameron Fixed The 2015 General Election and Much Else’’ which can be seen at:
‘’The two major electoral rolls — the Local Authority Electoral Roll and the Parliamentary Electoral Roll — are both meant to be an objective list of all the eligible electors. These rolls of qualifying British electors were, prior to the 2013 IER Act, based mainly upon the annual Household Electoral Review which, by post in each year, requested the 20 million householders fully to list the qualifying residents occupying each house on a due date. The penalty for the head of the household not accurately filling in and returning the form was £1,000. New voters resident in the house — these “attainers” who were 17 and about to become 18 and qualified to vote within a year — were also required to be listed on the return. Universities were similarly requested to return a list of all their students in halls of residence and attending at the University.
The 2013 IER Act is entirely different and has ten major elements which might individually be defended but taken together clearly show how the implementation of that Act deletes voters, makes voter registration more difficult than previously, and blames voters for their non-registration and political apathy, when it is the chosen Coalition Government implementation of that Act which is at fault.
First, there was a continual bias towards voter deletion rather than maximising voter numbers
The historical drive of the Electoral Commission and the 348 Electoral Registration Officers in England has previously been towards maximising the number of eligible voters on the Electoral Rolls, in the interests of establishing representative democracy on the widest possible basis. The bias exercised in the Coalition and Conservative implementation of the 2013 IER has been entirely partisan and focused upon reducing those voters who are unlikely to vote Conservative on the Electoral Rolls. The best example of this is university students, who often had (and perhaps a few still have) two entries on the Parliamentary Electoral Roll — one at their term-time address and one at their home address. 920,000 students in England may now have neither.
The cry from some Conservative Party Members is that students have disenfranchised themselves by their laziness, because if each student had filled in the forms allegedly given to them on the day of their University registration, then they might not have been deleted from the voting rolls. But it as not their laziness which removed them from the rolls, but deliberate partisan Government action which required action by these potential voters rather than automatic registration based on the previous Household Electoral Registration (HER) System.
Second, when an IER system was introduced in the Northern Ireland after 2002, there was a 10.5% drop in the voter registers
As page 4 of the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number 6764, authored by Isobel White and dated 21 July 2015, notes:
“When individual registration was introduced in Northern Ireland by the Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act 2002, the numbers on the register there fell by 10.5% although the legislation was seen as successful in reducing electoral fraud.”
But minor levels of fraud (maybe ten cases during the previous four years) were possibly eliminated at the cost of the Northern Ireland disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of electors — a massive loss to the democratic process in Northern Ireland.
The British Government knew that the introduction of the 2013 IER Act, if implemented as it was in Northern Ireland, would lead to a large fall in voter registration.
The Irish troubles began, according to most analyses, because the Irish Authorities gerrymandered the outcome of the elections in a blatant denial of the democratic process. Whatever the stated objectives of the 2002 Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act the result is the re-establishment of the gerrymandering, this time by Westminster rather than by local politicians. The gerrymandering in this Act therefore once again provides the conditions on the ground for the resurgence of the Troubles which Mo Mowlem’s 1998 Easter Sunday Agreement had briefly laid to rest. Again on Page 4 [the first Background] paragraph of that briefing paper.
“The [Electoral]Commission published a report in June 2003, Voting for change: an electoral law modernisation programme, which brought together recommendations from a series of policy papers, including those on registration issues. The Labour Government responded to the report in 2004 and said it was sympathetic to the principles of individual registration but it did not implement the Commission’s recommendations, mainly because of concerns about the effect on levels of registration if a system of individual registration was introduced.”
The Labour Party knew that a badly-implemented individual elector registration system would damage democracy by creating large levels of voter under-registration. These under-registered voters were mainly labour voters — students, tenants of local authority housing, ethnic minorities — so Labour had a sound democratic reason as well as a political reason for not wishing to progress this process. But the Conservative Party had no similar qualms and, as events have demonstrated, had no reservations about damaging the British democratic process if it suited their partisan objectives.
Third, the use of only one government database — the DWP one — to confirm electors
The British Government has at its disposal dozens of databases about British citizens. If there had been a genuine intention to re-establish the Parliamentary Electoral Rolls by identifying all legitimate voters in the United Kingdom, the Government could have used several of the Government’s voluminous databases to ensure that virtually all potential voters were entered on the rolls. Instead, only one database — the Department of Work and Pensions one — was used to establish a baseline of potential voters.
There is a motor insurance database which records the insurance of 47 million vehicles. There is an HMRC database which has the details of 29.7 million individual income tax payers. There is the Passport Agency which lists about 80% of the UK population who have a passport. There is a National Insurance database which contains a record of every person over 16 in the United Kingdom. As the Wikipedia entry records “In order to administer the National Insurance system, a National Insurance number is allocated to every child in the United Kingdom shortly before their 16th birthday” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Insurance).
The UK is estimated to have had a population of about 64.6 million in 2014. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Demography_of_the_United_Kingdom#Age_structure). About 11 million were under 14 in 2011 and a further 4 million were 15–19, so the over 19 population looks likely to be about 50 million and the over 18 population about 50.8 millions. A complete UK voters roll would therefore be in excess of 50 million if all the relevant databases were used to identify all the legal electorate in the UK. The DWP database only contains 42.4 million records, much less than the December 2012 electoral roll which identified 46.2 million voters.
The DWP records used in the “Confirmation Live Run” for England and Wales initially identified voters from the DWP database only produced a voters’ roll of 36.9 million voters with 5.5 million voters not confirmed, so initially disenfranchised these 5.5 million voters — 13% of the electorate — an even larger percentage loss than 10.5% reduction in voters in Northern Ireland.
As section 3.5 9 [in the book] illustrates, in a comparison of the Australian Implementation of IER with the Cameron-led Coalition Government’s implementation of the 2013 IER Act, a government can maximise voter registration by using all the databases at its disposal. Successive Australian Governments have done that, but the Cameron-led Coalition and Conservative governments have chosen not to do that.
Fourth, The abolition of the 2014 HER/Annual canvass
The abolition of the 2014 Household Electoral Review (HER) was a deliberate decision of the Coalition Government which removed the possibility of correcting the flawed early 2014 register resulting ftrom the 2013 IER Act register by writing to the missing electors. It is impossible to conclude that this was not a deliberate partisan act to minimise non-Conservative voters.
Fifth, the absence of ring-fencing of the money allegedly provided to improve the Parliamentary Electoral Register (PER)
The Coalition Government did provide two tranches of funds in February 2015 to improve voter registration on the PER but these funds were not earmarked for that specific purpose. The result of this was that many cash-strapped local authorities in the UK used the money provided to maintain essential services instead of improving voter registration. If the Coalition Government had been serious about improving the PER it would have ring-fenced these funds for their stated purpose.
Sixth, the denial of the suggestion that voters could register on voting day at the booths
Several countries that have introduced IER legislation have allowed voters to present identity information at the voting booths on polling day, so that they could vote despite not being previously registered. That suggestion was made by Sadiq Khan the deputy leader of the opposition but was ignored by the Government.
It is difficult not to conclude that the Government had no wish to allow voters which had been disenfranchised by the 2013 IER or otherwise unregistered voters to vote on polling day.
Seventh, the refusal to consider the issues raised by the Electoral Commission
During the implementation of the 2013 IER Act the Electoral Commission (EC) continually issued suggestions about how the Act could be better implemented. For example, the EC suggested that the 2014 HER should be held to improve voter registration and that the completion date of the IER implementation should remain December 2016 as planned in the original timetable of IER introduction. The Government ignored all such suggestions and abolished the 2014 IER and rushed to complete the IER implementation by December 2015. These actions ensured that the PER was less complete than it would be if the Electoral Commission recommendations had been introduced, and paved the way for a less complete PER to be used as the basis for the planned gerrymandering of constituency boundaries (which was planned, on the basis of that a reduced PER, to lock in Conservative Majority governments for generations). See the announcement made hours after the Conservative victory on http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/11593496/New-Commons-boundaries-top-Conservative-government-agenda.html
Eighth, the voting down of parliamentary motions criticising the fast implementation of the 2013 IER Act
Several Early Day Motions were proposed and voted upon in the House of Commons to improve the number of voters being registered in the PER under the provisions of the 2013 IER Act. All of these were voted down by the Government majority in the interests of minimising the number of voters on the PER. These votes produced the flawed PER used on polling day and the flawed mandate of a 7th May 2015 General Election.
Ninth, the reduction of the penalty for non-responses to a request for voter registration from a likely £1,000 on the previous HER system to a weak comment on the IER Enquiry forms about how “You might be fined £80”
The lowering of the penalty for non-responses and the encouragement of non-registration of an individual’s voting rights acts to produce a flawed PER which advantages the Conservative Party.
Tenth, the Cameron Government proposes to use the reduced and gerrymandered 2013 IER Act Parliamentary Electoral Roll produced in early 2015 as the basis for the gerrymandering of constituency boundaries in 2016 with the objective of locking in Conservative Governments for generations
See the press announcement reported in the Daily Telegraph on 8 May 2015 a few hours after the election of the Cameron-led Conservative Government which states that a major objective of the new parliamentary boundaries is to gerrymander Conservative victories for generations.
which is discussed in more detail in Section 4.1 below.There can be no doubt whatsoever that IER Act 2013 Coalition gerrymander has been the major factor in “electing” the extreme right wing Cameron Conservative Government on 7 May 2015.
Finally, all of the pollsters’ predictions one month before the 7 May General Election election showed a hung parliament, yet the exit polls showed the Conservatives might be 10 short of an overall majority. The opinion polls all asked samples of supposed voters about voting intentions, while the exit polls recorded how voters who could vote had voted.
The Tories had 11,334,576 votes in total, 36.9% of the voters, and 330 seats. Labour had 9,347,304 votes, 30.4% of the voters, and 256 seats. The turnout was 66% and the Conservative majority appeared to be 1,987,272 votes. Compared with the polls, which had predicted about 305 seats for the Conservatives, a surplus 25 seats turned up for the Conservatives, with a working majority of 12.
Wikipedia reported without any trace of irony that.
“Opinion polls were eventually proven to have significantly underestimated the Conservative vote, which bore resemblance to their surprise victory in the 1992 general election,”
and, I would add, for the same gerrymandering reasons — by the Poll Tax in 1992 and the 2013 IER Act in 2015.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ United_Kingdom_general_election,_2015#Opinion_polling_inaccura cies_and_scrutiny
Calculations comparing the 2015 election results with the one month previous polls suggest that the 2013 IER has produced about 1.8 million missing Labour voters.
Cameron’s Tories won 24% support of the alleged total electorate and 36% of those who voted. No matter how these numbers are manipulated, the Conservatives have no grass roots support in the UK, and they certainly do not have a popular democratic mandate for the enormous changes they are implementing. There is no popular mandate whatsoever for the destruction of the third pillar of the post war consensus — the welfare state — or for the privatisation of the NHS.
These plans will make the Tories a toxic political brand. The Conservatives would never hold office again if they did not have plans further to gerrymander the electoral process, but they have such plans, as section 4.1 reports.’’
As Tim Ross points out at Appendix A of his book ‘’Why The Tories Won’’.
‘’Just 901 voters in the seven most marginal Tory/ Labour seats may have decided the outcome of the election. If these individuals had voted for Labour instead of the Conservatives, David Cameron would not have won Gower, Derby North, Croydon Central, Vale of Clwyd, Bury North, Morley and Outwood, or Plymouth Sutton and Devonport. These seats have combined majorities that would be wiped out by 901 voters switching from Tory to Labour.’’
Tim Ross does not refer to the role played by the 2013 IER Act in producing the Conservative victory but no one who knows the facts can possibly doubt that the Conservatives won the election on the basis of a gerrymandered Parliamentary Electoral Roll given that extreme sensitivity of the first-past-the-post UK election system.
For further information about this topic see the book ‘’How David Cameron Fixed The 2015 General Election and Much Else’’ which can be seen at:
© George Tait Edwards 2015