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PLANS to make voters show photo ID at polling stations are a “blatant” attempt to prevent millions of poorer people and those from ethnic minorities from voting, Jeremy Corbyn said today.
The Labour leader slammed the government’s plan as “clearly discriminatory” ahead of his visit last night to the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton’s Windrush Square to mark Black History Month.
He said that only one conviction came out of 28 allegations of in-person voter fraud during the last general election in 2017, when more than 44 million votes were cast.
In comparison, 11m British citizens do not have a passport or driving licence and 3.5m do not have access to any photo ID.
Mr Corbyn said this would mainly affect low-income earners, people of black and minority ethnic (Bame) backgrounds and young adults.
He visited the archives with shadow women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler to discuss Labour’s plans to improve teaching of black British history and the British empire.
He said: “The people that the Tories are trying to stop voting will be disproportionately from ethnic minority backgrounds and they will disproportionately be working-class voters of all ethnicities.
“We will not allow the Tories to shut down our democracy and shut ethnic minority voters out of our democracy by making it harder for people to vote.
“Rather than suppress voters, Labour will ensure that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are at the heart of our democracy.
“That is why we have launched our Race and Faith Consultation, to engage with the communities who experience racial inequality every day as we develop our programme for government.”
His comments came after the state opening of Parliament with the Queen’s Speech.
She recited a list of the Tories’ pledges that include leaving the EU by October 31, ending freedom of movement and reforming adult social care and the Mental Health Act.
Law and order also featured heavily, including previously announced proposals to prolong prison time for serious offenders.
The Queen also said the government is planning to speed up arrests of fugitives and strengthen rehabilitation of prisoners.
She said that it was committed to providing “excellent education” for young people — a pledge dismissed as a “non-announcement” by shadow education secretary Angela Rayner.
Responding to the speech during a Commons debate, Mr Corbyn said that there was “nothing” in the address that would boost the “stagnant economy,” address low pay and insecure work nor bring down rising levels of child and pensioner poverty.
He said: “This speech was supposed to herald an end to austerity and a new vision. Instead it barely begins to unpick the devastating cuts to public services.
“The NHS [has] suffered the longest funding squeeze in its history, while life expectancy falls and infant mortality rises.
“Schools have had their budgets cut, class sizes have risen and headteachers are sending begging letters to parents.
“Police have lost over 20,000 officers while violent crime soars. NHS England has made clear that core treatment targets cannot be met with the funding settlement offered by the government.”
The Howard League for Penal Reform’s chief executive Frances Crook slammed the prisons proposals as “piffle.”
She said they would not result in a safer society and that they would also “put prison staff at risk” due to overcrowding in jails and reduced numbers of prison officers.
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