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Harman accuses Tories on votes roll

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman is to accuse the Conservatives of plotting to wipe out millions of Labour's core votes by pushing people off the electoral register.

Proposals drawn up by the Government would introduce voluntary registration and put an end to households signing up, shifting the onus on to each individual to fill out the electoral forms.

Labour documents quote Electoral Commission research that suggest 10 million voters "predominantly poor, young or black, and more liable to vote Labour", will fall off the electoral register and it may go from having 90% of eligible voters on it to as low as 60%.

Ms Harman will tell party members: "The Lib Dems - to their eternal shame - are colluding with the Tories in changing the law on the electoral register. What they plan to do in the White Paper is going to push people off the electoral register, deny them their vote, deny them their voice.

"The independent Electoral Commission warn that this could deny millions of people the right to vote. The Tories are hoping if they take away the right to vote from students, young people living in rented flats in our cities, people from ethnic minority communities... if fewer of them can vote it will help the Tories win."

At a question-and-answer session in the conference hall earlier, Labour leader Ed Miliband also warned about the changes and said it was a "basic human right" to be able to vote and it should be made "easier, not harder".

Mr Miliband said: "The Electoral Commission... are very worried that millions of people are going to be removed from the register."

Pledging to oppose the move, he added: "One of the most basic decent human rights of all is the right to vote. We should be making it easier, not harder." He claimed the move to voluntary registration meant it would no longer be a "civic duty" to be on the roll.

Ms Harman hailed Mr Miliband for a "bold and decisive" speech in which he set out his "new bargain" with voters on Tuesday, and defended her leader from charges that he is anti-business.

"He is not at all anti-business, he is pro-business doing the right thing," Ms Harman told the BBC. "The new bargain is, you work hard, you look after your kids and do the right thing in your life, and actually business has to do the same. It's not enough for you to be responsible and bankers to be totally reckless. The same rules have got to go in terms of responsibility from the bottom of society right to the very top."


From Belfast Telegraph