“Would it not be easier/In that case for the government/To dissolve the people/And elect another?” Bertolt Brecht’s satirical response to the claim by the East German Writers’ Union, in the wake of the 1953 popular uprising against the Communist regime, that the people had “forfeited the confidence of the government”, proposed an absurd solution that not even Walter Ulbricht, the Stalinist First Secretary of the SED, considered realistic.
It is a measure of how far totalitarian ambitions have progressed in the intervening 70 years that today a programme is being canvassed to do exactly what Brecht suggested: replace a people that has forfeited the confidence of the progressive political class with new electors who can be trusted to toe the party line. Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour is “looking at” proposals to extend voting rights to 5 million EU citizens and other non-nationals settled in Britain and to 1.5 million 16 to 17-year olds.
This would increase the UK electorate from 46.5 million to 53.1 million – a massive 14 per cent expansion, at a stroke. So large an addition to the voting roll would totally overturn all existing voting patterns. A glance at the most recent elections in this country will furnish evidence of how extravagant a revolution this would be. At the last general election in 2019, when the conditions were uniquely unfavourable to Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn and unpopular for its attempts to obstruct Brexit, the margin between the Conservatives and Labour was 3.7 million votes.
The total number of new voters Labour is considering bringing onto the register is 6.5 million, a figure that could easily have overturned that Conservative victory in a year when the Tories were making unparalleled inroads into Labour territory on the pledge to “get Brexit done”, under a charismatic leader. Taking into consideration that the Liberal Democrats won 3.7 million votes, only the vagaries of the first-past-the-post electoral system made Boris Johnson’s victory possible on such a scale.
But those considerations are the least of the matter. Electoral numbers rise and fall in the natural order of things, without causing a revolution in politics. This case is dramatically different for two reasons. The first is that this enormous new accretion to the electoral register would be overwhelmingly leftist – which is why Labour is canvassing the idea. EU citizens would be likely to vote for pro-EU Labour, hoping that a consequent erosion of the non-alignments with Brussels created by Brexit would make their lives easier, as subjects of the EU living in Britain.
Then there are the 16- and 17-year-olds. Back in 2017, more than half of 18 to 24-year-olds voted for Jeremy Corbyn, depriving Theresa May of a majority. Fair enough: adults have the right to vote as they please. But 16- and 17-year olds are not adults: laws passed by the last Labour government testify to that. They are not permitted to leave school, to marry, or to buy alcohol or cigarettes; so far from contributing to society, they have never set eyes on a tax demand. Yet it is being suggested that a cohort of youngsters should decide the destinies of the nation.
The pretext for this nonsense is the lunatic extension of voting rights to 16-year-olds at devolved parliamentary and local elections in Scotland and Wales, both countries under devolved administrations of epic incompetence. The transparent Labour calculation is that giving schoolchildren the vote would increase its support. But that would only come on flow at the election after next: before then, there is a much bigger, more outrageous project planned.
Labour, under Remainer Starmer, would like to re-run the Brexit referendum. The “People’s Vote” scam, between 2016 and 2019, depended on an audacious and imaginary claim that, almost immediately after leaving the polling station on referendum day, “buyer remorse” had set in on a massive scale and that Britain had changed its mind about Brexit. That lie was blown out of the water at the 2019 general election, which affirmed the settled will of the British people to leave the European Union.
That unpalatable reality still does not deter the more strident Remainers from stubbornly seeking to claw back the entitlements of the elites from the villain people who, as the East German Writers’ Union phrased it, “forfeited the confidence of the government”. Now Labour, in its frustration, has hit upon Baldrick’s cunning plan. Since the British electorate will never vote for re-entry into the EU, create a new electorate – “dissolve the people/And elect another”, in Brecht’s sardonic phraseology – by conscripting EU citizens to vote Britain back under Brussels control.
It is as simple, as crude, as cynical, as contemptuous of democracy and of the British public as that. EU citizens resident in Britain might differ slightly in their support for individual political parties, but they can be relied on, in their own interests, to vote unanimously for British re-entry into Europe, to make their lives easier. It is a measure of how far the political class believes that it can, with impunity, trample over the public and hand this country over to the crumbling tyranny from which it has so recently escaped, that it dares openly to canvass such an infamous coup d’état.
To enfranchise foreigners for the purpose of bringing Britain back under the yoke of an alien power bloc it has rejected is a total betrayal of national interest and identity. Those same EU citizens, if they were residing in any EU country other than their own, would not be allowed to vote in parliamentary elections. They were similarly debarred from voting in the UK while we were an EU member state: why would we extend to them, now that we are outside the EU, a privilege we denied them when we were a member? Why, indeed, should EU citizens enjoy any special treatment in Brexit Britain?
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This almost incredible proposal is the natural outcome of the accelerating devaluation of British citizenship, formerly regarded as a precious right, jealously guarded. Post-War governments have strewn British passports around the world like confetti. To gratify immigrants, our history, culture and national identity are being trashed and we are expected to feel guilt about a great empire that brought wealth creation and modern living standards to vast swathes of the world, at huge cost to many disinterested administrators and soldiers.
It is not necessary for the immigration figures to pass the totemic one million figure when they are unveiled next week for the British public to see how appallingly they have been betrayed, by a supposedly Conservative government promising to reduce immigration to the “tens of thousands”, to “stop the boats” and all the other claptrap that acted as a descant to the relentless liberalisation of visa conditions, with legal migration now a far worse problem than illegal.
And now, finally, we are to be disfranchised through the rigging of elections and referenda by giving the vote to people who are not British citizens, to out-vote those who are. No country ever should allow those who are not citizens to vote as if they were. In ancient Greece, some states and commentators held that citizenship should only be awarded to third-generation immigrants, to ensure they were properly integrated and making a genuine contribution to society, long after the obviously motivated first generation. There was much wisdom in that outlook.
By planning to distort Britain through the subversion of its voting system, Labour has proved it is as unelectable as the Tories. Nothing is to be looked for from the legacy parties but betrayal. It is time to consider a radical recalibration of our system of government, a restriction of the power of the state and serious sanctions against politicians who betray the confidence reposed in them by the electorate. We need bottom-up reform, imposed if necessary by referendum, with the government obliged to grant a plebiscite if the demand for it reaches a certain level.
If we do not act soon, we shall find ourselves delivered back into the hands of our former foreign rulers, our rights no more than a historical memory and our pathetic destiny once more bound up with the doomed European Union.
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