In a speech in Parliament today Paul Blomfield MP called on Nick Clegg to scrap his ‘undemocratic’ voter registration plans which will reduce Sheffield’s voice in Parliament.
The Government’s plans, which Nick Clegg is leading, will force everyone to register individually. Currently one member of the household can register on everyone else’s behalf. The Electoral Commission has warned this could cause voter registration levels to plummet and that up to 40% of households might drop off the electoral register.
In Mr Blomfield’s Sheffield Central constituency 17% of households are already not registered, in contrast with Sheffield Hallam where it is only 4%. Mr Blomfield also warned that Sheffield’s voice in Parliament will be reduced because the smaller electoral register would be used for the next boundary review in 2015 and could see another Sheffield constituency axed.
Paul Blomfield MP said:
"Moving from household to individual voter registration will see voter registration decrease in poorer, urban areas where the population is more transient. It will lead to young people, poorer people and people in BME communities dropping off the register. Nick Clegg’s plan will profoundly undermine our democracy and he should think again. Instead the Government should put more effort into encouraging the disadvantaged and disengaged to register to vote and including them in our political system. Clegg’s plans will weaken the voices of those who need democratic politics to improve their lives, and will disenfranchise young people and students on whom our future democracy depends.
"Not only will the new registration system shrink the electoral register, it will be used in 2015 as the basis for another constituency boundary review. With a smaller register Sheffield could easily lose another constituency which would reduce our city’s voice in Parliament.
"The Government is putting naked party advantage over democracy. Voter registration is expected to fall in urban areas and benefit wealthier Tory-voting areas. The Government’s plans amount to the most outrageous gerrymandering ever seen in this country.