Jim Crow in Woking. Voter Suppression in the UK redefines “Fundamental British Value”.

There are now over 240 bills going through Republican controlled States in the USA to bring back Jim Crow by restricting the voting rights of any demographic that is unlikely to vote for them; preparing the ground for a Trump revival in the mid terms and 2024 Presidential election. These measures in “the best democracy money can buy” has has its counterpart in a proposal currently under consideration in the UK – and being trialed in Woking (1) a Tory controlled town hitherto mostly famous for its Pizza Express – to require presentation of photo i/d to be a condition of voting in any election from 2023. The next General Election is scheduled for 2024.

This is designed to exclude anyone that does not have photo i/d from the right to vote.

The two main forms of photo i/d in the UK are passports and car licenses. So, the determining factor in whether you have the right to vote or not will be whether or not you can afford to drive a car or take overseas holidays. 24% of potential voters do neither.

So this proposal would disenfranchise one in four of the electorate. The quarter with the least resources.

So, the worst off will be most disenfranchised. When you add ethnicity to this, it becomes even more poisonous. 24% of White people do not have a driving license, compared to 39% identifying as Asian and 47% of Black people. So, Black people are twice as likely to be excluded from the right to vote as White people. Younger people are also less likely to own cars – often for very positive reasons – as are people who live in cities. In Brent, for example, 42% of households have no access to a car or van. So, its clear who this measure is designed to shuffle off the register. A cursory look at opinion polls indicates why.

The Tories like to argue that “Democracy” is a “Fundamental British Value” (with capital letters) but this is the single biggest roll back of voting rights in British history. So not so much a fundamental value, more an expendable expedient. Something they’d put up with when it offered no threat. But, Corbynism gave them a scare in 2017. And – as post Brexit, less than global Britain shrinks into a mean and twisted cartoon of its worst features – they are still haunted by the ghost of it; knowing that the future is neither bright nor orange.

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/mar/01/woking-council-accused-of-discouraging-vulnerable-voters-postal-vote-id

2. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/mar/09/warning-over-photo-id-law-change-for-uk-wide-and-english-elections

A Tale of two demos: US Racist Policing decisions in one graph.

The attempts by the US right to banalise the attempt by the most fascist elements of Trump’s base to invade the Capitol building, stop the certification of the Presidential election and possibly kill legislators build on a solid foundation of racist presumptions that run through the whole state like writing through a stick of rock.

This graph shows the number of Police deployed to deal with – respectively – an impending and flagged up riot from the far right, and a peaceful demo by Black Lives Matter last Summer. Very little else needs to be said.

115:5,000

A magisterial account of how the political crisis in the USA has got to this stage is here. http://www.socialistaction.net/2021/01/14/the-georgia-elections-and-the-new-period-in-american-politics/

Institutional racism and deaths in the front line.

“Its the National Health Service not the International Health Service.” Matt Hancock.

Charity begins at home, but solidarity, by definition, doesn’t.

The disproportionate fatality rates among BAME front line workers in the Health Service is clear and shocking (1). Matt Hancock’s assertion above, and the Conservative election leaflets promising to “protect the NHS” by limiting immigration are shown up as the mean spirited disgrace they are by the deaths of so many doctors, nurses and health care support workers who have been sent into work without adequate PPE with the same insoucient carelessness with which the Conservatives have dealt with the Grenfell fire – before and after. The figures for Doctors are particularly overwhelming.

chart (7)
Death rates among Doctors and Dentists

 

chart (8)
BAME proportion of workforce: Doctors and Dentists

The sheer number of Doctors and Dentists from BAME communities should be enough for those benighted sections of “the white working class” unwilling to extend solidarity beyond their own ethnicity to reflect that the “immigrants overwhelming the health service” are largely the people who are working in it and a huge proportion of the people we are clapping and cheering for every Thursday night. The horrifying number who are dying in the front line of this crisis should be something to make them show a bit of respect, if they can tear themselves away from that latest bit of online Sinophobia from Tommy Robinson.

The disproportion is even more stark for BAME Nurses and Midwives, who are 20% of the workforce but 71% of the fatalities.

chart (9)
Death rates among Nurses and Midwives

chart (10)
BAME proportion of workforce: Nurses and Midwives

And Healthcare support workers, who are 17% of the workforce and 56% of the fatalities.

chart (11)
Death rates among Health care support workers

chart (12)
BAME proportion of workforce: Healthcare support workers

 

Caroline Nokes MP Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency in 2017, said this in relation to emergency preparation.

‘Resilience does not come easily but the UK has long experience. Call it what you will, but whether through the fabled ‘stiff upper lip’, ‘Blitz spirit’ or just a stubborn determination, our resilience can be seen at the forefront of our handling of emergencies.’

This is essentially an admission that they never bothered to be prepared on the basis that “British pluck” would make up for an absence of PPE stocks, testing equipment, emergency systems set up and ready to go. The savage irony of all this narcissistic nationalist mythology is that the most resilient communities in the country, those that have had to deal with the Windrush scandal and the hostile environment, are those that have also had to “take it on the chin” in the coronavirus crisis too. The old normal – that we are “all in the same boat’ but, as in the Titanic, some are in first class with access to lifeboats looking down their noses at the people in steerage without, and thinking they should be damn grateful to be on the boat at all – has carried its way through this crisis. We cannot allow it to define “the new normal” too.

Remember the dead. Remember their names (2). Fight for the living. PPE for all. No end to the lockdown without WHO conditions being applied in full.

(1) The figures in this blog come from this recent study. https://www.hsj.co.uk/exclusive-deaths-of-nhs-staff-from-covid-19-analysed/7027471.article

(2) All are listed here. https://thinklab.com/ToryFibs