Just what is it about the proposal to require voters to show ID that so frightens the Labour party? Funny, but this was the party which, during 13 years in power, hugely added to the surveillance state; which passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, leading to councils snooping on our wheelie bins and, in one famous case, to Poole Council spying on a couple wrongly suspected of faking their address in order to get their child into a better school. It is the party which empowered agencies of the state to retain information on our emails and phone calls, which was happy to see our streets plastered with CCTV cameras. And yet here it is objecting to what seems an obvious precaution against electoral fraud: asking voters to show some form of identification at the polling station.
Labour’s argument that the move will disenfranchise millions of voters is bunk. True, not everyone has a driving licence – one of the suggested forms of ID which might have to be shown. But everyone entitled to vote is sent a polling card carrying their name, address. How could it disenfranchise anyone to be asked to produce this at the polling station rather than to do as anyone can do at present: turn up early in the day to an urban polling station covering a large area, where the people behind the desk are unlikely to recognise everyone on the list, and claim to be anyone they like?
There is really only one satisfactory explanation for Labour’s discomfort: the party fears that it would suffer disproportionately from a crackdown on voter fraud because its current voters are more likely to be involved in fraud than those of other parties.