Boris Johnson’s aides just let slip the underhand motive for an early election date

Are they trying to stop young people from voting?

Aides of Boris Johnson’s have have privately admitted that one of the advantages of an October 15 election is to limit the number of students registering to vote, according to a report in the Times today.

There is fear amongst the Prime Minister’s team that a high youth and student turnout could severely hamper his ability to gain a majority – so an earlier election would be ideal to allow less time for students to register to vote, when they return to universities and colleges for a new term.

Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, co-founder of For our Future’s Sake, said:

“It is unfortunately unsurprising that Boris Johnson’s advisors are aiming for an earlier election, as a misconceived attempt to restrict the student vote.

“Boris Johnson and his team know that young people and learners across Higher and Further Education do not want a vicious No Deal imposed on them, damaging their futures.

“No 10 are right to be scared – this generation of young people will get out and vote for pro-People’s Vote parties, no matter the time of the election.”

Speaking to Left Foot Forward, Professor Toby James – an expert in issues of electoral management at the University of East Anglia – said:

“It is important that the election is designed to be inclusive and to encourage everyone to vote. Unfortunately, many governments fall short of this and use tactics to deliberate restrict participation.

“The government has an opportunity to prove it’s democratic credentials by resourcing local authorities, universities and civil society groups to run outreach campaigns, and set a date that will not adversely affect anyone.”

He added: “Students are one of the most under-registered groups because they are so mobile. Major work will need to be done to encourage them to register to vote ahead of the election.”

A recent report by Prof James highlighted that millions of people who should be on the electoral roll are still missing.

Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS President, told LFF that ‘any attempt to restrict the democratic rights of our members will be met with the full force of the National Union of Students’:

“This move shows the extent to which Boris Johnson and his cabinet will go to lock out students voices. His actions this week, in pursuing a no deal Brexit, has been met with fury from students all around the country.

“Let’s be clear: [If this goes ahead] We will launch our largest ever voter registration campaign to get every student, in every campus, and in every classroom into that voting booth.”

Cat Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, said:

“Boris Johnson must not be allowed to rig the election by stopping students from voting. The Tories know that our young people have had enough of being ignored and are a force to be reckoned with.

“Students should register to vote immediately so they can help us to get rid of this Tory government and end austerity.”

Since Boris Johnson has become Prime Minister, over one million people have registered to vote, according to official figures.

You can register to vote if you’re not on the electoral roll or have moved house recently here.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

3 Responses to “Boris Johnson’s aides just let slip the underhand motive for an early election date”

  1. steve

    If Labour fails to go for the earliest possible general election members are going to find it very difficult on the doorstep when asked why Labour blocked Brexit

    Not only that, there are tens of thousands of people desperate to be rid of the Tory government. The nonsense of attempting to score points by humiliating Johnson counts for very little beyond the Westminster bubble.

    If Labour refuses to offer a route to the change this country needs the electorate will have to look elsewhere.

  2. Domhnall

    The electorate will not look elsewhere when it seeks out a party offering a serious climate emergency policy and a serious alternative to neoliberal economics. The reasons for refusing to comply with Boris Johnson’s underhand tactics is not that hard for voters to understand. Labour is offering a fresh referendum with a genuine choice. Boris Johnson’s Tories and the Brexit Party are perpared to allow a no deal disaster to hit the country followed by an appalling free trade deal with the USA on terms set by Trump. Even many serious Conservatives now recognise how harmful that will be and how essential it now is to prevent it.

  3. Julia Gibb

    “An alternative to Labour”

    Why do people ignore the evidence in front of them?
    Labour stopped listening to their voters in Scotland. They took their vote for granted. The common saying is “I didn’t leave Labour, they left me”. These voters moved to the SNP and they have stayed there. Once a traditional voting pattern is broken it is difficult the re-establish.

    You may not like my observation. However think about. Don’t blame the SNP ask the question why so many moved.
    You are about to lose many votes in England to the LibDems.

    I would have thought someone would have asked for a study/report into this. Labour may have increased their membership but they have lost a much bigger voter base. Only votes matter in elections.

    I suspect the Tory plan was to reduce student participation in support of the LibDems not Labour.

Leave a Reply