Harlow Labour angry as Tories attempt to remove Irish and Commonwealth right to vote

Politics / Fri 16th Jan 2015 at 07:38am

By Jo O’Reilly

Irish Voting in BritainHARLOW residents born in Ireland and other Commonwealth nations may lose their right to vote if a controversial change in law takes place before the next election.

Under current election regulations British residents born in Commonwealth countries including Ireland, can vote in UK elections as long as they reside in the UK.

It has been reported that senior Tory backbenchers, headed by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, are pushing for an emergency change in the law that would see those born in Commonwealth nations lose their right to vote ahead of the general election in May.

The change in law would affect 345,000 Irish members of the electorate nationally, as well as those born in other Commonwealth nations including India, Pakistan and Australia.

If successful this change in law could have a dramatic impact in Harlow on election day, at the last census 875 residents of the town classed themselves as Irish, 1,061 Indian and 629 Pakistani.

But what may be more important is the feelings of the second and third generations, who, may take umbrage that those who were instrumental in building a town like Harlow, may now see themselves excluded from the polling stations.

Despite being an executive of the 1922 committee chaired by Graham Brady, who has described the change as ‘crucially important’, Harlow MP Robert Halfon has stated that in the case of Irish votes he would not be backing it,

Mr Halfon said: ‘I don’t support it because of our historic ties, as long as British voters continue to be able to vote in Irish elections, as is currently the case.’

Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Harlow Suzy Stride also strongly opposed any change for Irish voters as well as those from across the Commonwealth,

‘This is nothing short of gerrymandering. We have a long-standing arrangement that we can vote in Commonwealth countries and visa versa. I do not support these outrageous recommendations that could strip some Harlow residents of their right to vote.’

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