the government want to make it harder for you to vote

And all the other politics news you need to know, in a handy format.

by Marie Le Conte
16 October 2019, 10:11am

Hello! Nice to see you! It’s been a while! I’m now back in London and have caught up on my sleep so let’s just get going? I mean you know the drill, don’t you, by now. Let’s have a look at what’s happened in the last fortnight.

One thing that actually mattered

Well the Queen’s Speech happened on Monday, so we probably need to get into that. In short: Boris Johnson gave a shopping list of policies to the Queen for her to announce in Parliament, and though they all need to be taken with a huge pinch of salt as the government currently does not have a majority in the Commons so may not get any of them, it’s worth taking a look at what was on there for a flavour of things to (maybe come).

In no particular order:

  • There’ll be a bill putting the Brexit deal into law if the deal can get through the Commons (lol)
  • Another bill would allow law enforcement to immediately arrest suspected criminals in the UK who are wanted in other “trusted” countries
  • They would put an end to violent and sexual offenders automatically getting released halfway or two thirds of the way into their prison sentence
  • They’d try to improve mental health care within the NHS (in England as health is a devolved issue)
  • Increased sentences for animal cruelty
  • Some environmental stuff but not entireeeely clear what
  • A new safety framework for high-rise housing blocks, following Grenfell
  • Make sure employers distribute tips to workers with no deductions (that’s good!)

And there’s a bit more there if you want to have a look, but yeah to be clear, most of this will prob not get through the Commons anyway, or at least not before an election (which should be coming soon, *dun dun dunnn*)

One good thing that happened

This time last month, it looked like the whole prorogation mess, on top of being a gigantic faff, would mean that the Domestic Abuse Bill then going through the Commons would simply be dropped.

After some furious campaigning from charities and MPs like Jess Phillips, the government announced that the bill would be brought back to Parliament, and carried into the next parliamentary session if it didn’t have time to pass before then.

Among other things, the bill will:
  • Place a legal duty on councils to offer secure homes to people (and their children) escaping from domestic abuse,
  • Allow police and courts to intervene earlier in situations where domestic abuse is suspected
  • Stop abusers cross-examining their victims in family courts

In an ideal world we should not have had to go through this period of uncertainty but hey, at least it’s happening now.

One bad thing that happened

The government is planning to change the way people vote in Britain by making showing photo ID compulsory in voting booths. Under the new plans, voters would have to show a passport, driving licence or a free “electoral ID” available from councils. There are a few problems with that.

The first one is that 11 million citizens in the UK don’t have a passport or a driving licence, including 3.5 million who do not have any form of photo ID, and it seems unlikely that they’ll all apply for a special election photo ID.

The second is that... actually, can you guess how many convictions for impersonation at an election there was in 2017? Because it’s one (1). One conviction. The government is devoting time and money to something that is... not a problem, and will make it harder to vote for lots of people.

Oh, and a trial of this in 10 council wards in council elections earlier this year ended with 1,968 people being turned away for not having photo ID, including 740 who did not return.

All in all: not the best of shouts, as pieces of legislation go.

One puzzling thing that happened

Well, oddly for Westminster there’s not been that much weird stuff going on recently (apart from endless lines of people with absurd titles walking about in rooms covered in gold for the Queen’s Speech, obvi).

The best we could come up with is this puzzling Instagram post from Jacob Rees-Mogg (yes, Jacob Rees-Mogg has Instagram), in which he explains that while bored, his son drew the words “Brexit forever / I love the Tory Party / Somerset is great”, which is just very cool and normal.

One person to watch

Guess who’s back, back again

Rory’s back, tell a f- fine, I’ll stop

Rory Stewart was our first ever person to watch in this humble column and he is, well, back. At the time he’d just run for the Tory leadership and was international development secretary, and since then he has lost that job, stopped being a Conservative MP, stopped being a Conservative altogether, and now he’s……..running to be London mayor?? which, you know, why not.

The next mayoral contest will be next year and everyone was getting ready for a pretty boring race, as Sadiq Khan is currently fairly popular and the Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey, is just not very good and overall not expected to even slightly win against Sadiq.

We’re not sure what that new-look race will be like yet, but with Rory now the liberal but soft(ish) Brexit candidate, it should at least be quite interesting.

One word/phrase worth knowing

“Trigger ballots”! I’m sorry this is internal Labour politics and maybe not the most exciting thing in the world but it does matter, especially if you live in a Labour area and it happens to your MP.

In a nutshell - if there’s a trigger ballot against a Labour MP, it means that the local party will put forward a shortlist of candidates who want to stand in that seat, and the sitting MP will have to enter that contest and make their case to the members as well, instead of just being automatically reselected to fight the next general election.

So far, six local Labour parties have triggered a new selection process, against Kate Osamor, Emma Lewell-Buck, Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman, Diana Johnson, and Roger Godsiff.

As you may have noticed, this list is quite heavy on the women, despite Labour having more male MPs than female ones, so yay! politics!

The actual reselection fights haven’t happened yet, but we’ll let you know when we know more. Woo!

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