"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Inverse Poll Tax

One of the big issues we have with democracy in the UK is that there is a large number of people who do not want it. They clearly do not want it because they either do not vote, or (worse) do not even bother to register to vote. Part of this problem came from the Poll Tax (ahem, Community Charge) in the 90s where if you were on the electoral register you were liable to pay the tax: a tax on voting. One of the strategies against the Poll Tax was for people not to register to vote. Ironically, this actually benefited the Tories whose natural demographic were more likely to register and more likely to be in favour of the Poll Tax. We're still suffering the effects because many people regard the electoral roll with some distrust. (Thanks, Thatcher, for that effective part-destruction of our democracy.)

A principle of you have to pay a tax to vote is abhorrent. But why not turn the idea on its head? If you register to vote you become entitled to state benefits, or rather, to get benefits you have to be on the electoral roll? This won't necessarily increase the number of people voting, but it gets us nearer there. I am against the Conservatives' general idea that people who receive state benefits are in some way in hock to the state. That's nasty. But registering as a voter shows that you recognise that you are part of society and want to contribute, even if it is just putting an X on a piece of paper once every five years.

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