Who will decide Britain’s future? – HOPE not hate
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Who will decide Britain’s future?

Students, young people and ethnic minorities at risk of under-representation on 8 June.

By Elisabeth Pop

 

  • Students are the group most at risk of being under-represented at this General Election (GE2017)
  • Towns with big student populations are struggling: Cambridge still has 15,000, or minus -15%, fewer electors compared with May 2015
  • Across London there are over 162,000 fewer electors compared with GE2015, with Hackney (23,000 / -12%), Kingston (24,000 / -20%) and Redbridge (15,900 / -7%) suffering the most
  • Despite the huge awareness campaign around the EU Referendum, constituencies in urban areas / inner cities have seen a decrease in their electorate – Manchester Withington has lost 4,909 (– 6.6%) of electors and Manchester Gorton 3,354 (– 4.5%).

With the General Election 2017 only five weeks away and the future of our country hanging in the balance, it is more important than ever that every voice gets heard.

But HOPE not hate can reveal that traditionally under-represented communities, and social groups, remain at risk of not being heard on 8 June. In fact, with only 20 days left to the voter registration (VR) deadline on 22 May, they are more at risk than ever of losing their chance of a voice.

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While the total number of UK local government electors has increased by just over 1.1 million (+2.5%) between December 2015 and December 20161, HOPE not hate’s research shows that local authorities that are home to large numbers of students – or which include urban areas that experience high levels of ‘population churn’ – continue to struggle with lower numbers of registered voters when compared to May 2015.

Now, more than ever there is a need for a concentrated VR effort, and HOPE not hate and Bite the Ballot have joined forces to lead on it.

This is particularly important, given that:

    • The General Election (GE 2017) is a snap election and will not have the benefit of a long preparation for the run-up (as before, at GE 2015)
    • The EU Referendum was a ‘once in a generation’ election, hence came with a huge public awareness campaign that drove VR
    • GE2017 falls in the middle of the exams period, with students left wondering whether they should register at their university address or at home
    • The election takes place during the Muslim month of Ramadan, raising legitimate questions about a further potential barrier for ethnic and faith minorities who are already under-registered.

For over three years, HOPE not hate has been running VR campaigns with, and in, the very communities which are most in need of a political voice and which are most likely not to be registered to vote.

One of the first groups always at risk, and particularly with this snap election, is students. Time and time again students tell us that (following the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration) they are not registered at either their university or college address, that they don’t know they can register at both and that they don’t know where they will be on election day.

Furthermore, while there was an increase in student registration numbers in the run-up to the EU Referendum, it is not clear that students still live at those addresses or that they have re-registered when they moved. In fact, most of the constituencies that host significant student populations have seen a continuous decrease in the size of their register since December 2014.

Towns with significant student populations still have lower electoral registration levels compared with GE2015

 

 

EC figures (Aug 2015)

ONS figures (Mar 2017)

Number

Percentage

Local Authority (UK)

Local Gov Dec14

Local Gov May15

Local Gov Dec15

Local Gov Dec16

Dec16 vs May15

Dec16 vs May15

Birmingham

728,732

738,661

707,819

711,761

-26,900

-3.64%

Brighton and Hove

192,060

213,173

191,916

195,276

-17,897

-8.40%

Bristol

318,957

335,063

315,067

323,095

-11,968

-3.57%

Cambridge

91,173

100,783

80,415

85,546

-15,237

-15.12%

Edinburgh

371,805

383,556

354,153

364,346

-19,210

-5.01%

Glasgow

479,260

492,774

462,561

460,563

-32,211

-6.54%

Norwick

98,853

104,189

97,719

98,678

-5,511

-5.29%

Oxford

99,730

108,259

95,879

100,148

-8,111

-7.49%

Southampton

164,907

173,218

158,851

163,015

-10,203

-5.89%

Stoke-on-Trent

185,994

189,466

183,732

180,543

-8,923

-4.71%

Swansea

174,925

181,901

169,069

173,300

-8,601

-4.73%

York

146,322

157,836

149,932

147,099

-10,737

-6.80%

Other groups and communities at risk are:

    • Young vs Old: 70% of 18-to-24 year-olds were registered to vote at GE 2015 compared to 95% of those over retirement age (vInspired, 20152), but only 43% voted compared with 78% of 65+ year olds (IPSOS Mori, 20153)
    • Some Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups: 85.9% of White British people are on the electoral register, 83.7% of British Asians, but for Black people it is just 76%. For people of mixed ethnicity it is 73.4%, and for those whose ethnicity falls into the ‘Other’ category it is 62.9% (EC, 20144)
    • Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK are eligible to vote in all UK elections, but just 61.8% are registered here. This compares with 86.5% for all British citizens in the UK (EC, 2014)
    • 56% of voters living in private rented accommodation were registered compared with 88% of homeowners (EC, 20115).

Despite the huge push for VR in the run-up to the EU Referendum and the full transition to Individual Electoral Registration (IER), the General Election electorate of the following constituencies has fallen:

  • Manchester, Withington: 2015 = 74,616 ; 2016 = 69,707 → -4,909 = – 6.6%
  • Manchester, Gorton: 2015 = 74,227 ; 2016 = 70,873 → -3,354 = – 4.5%
  • Glasgow South: 2015 = 70,642 ; 2016 = 67,896 → -2,746 = – 3.9%

London, as one of the cities with the biggest population ‘churns’ in the UK, also has 162,000 less people on the (last) December 2016 register compared with May 2015 one, with some London boroughs particularly at risk of seeing their residents disenfranchised come 8 June.

Two thirds of London boroughs have lower electoral registration levels compared with GE2015

 

 

EC figures (Aug 2015)

ONS figures (Mar 2017)

Number

Percentage

Local Authority (LONDON)

Local Gov Dec14

Local Gov May15

Local Gov Dec15

Local Gov Dec16

Dec16 vs May15

Dec16 vs May15

Barnet

238,348

249,030

229,184

239,924

-9,106

-3.66%

Bexley

176,168

179,221

170,141

173,983

-5,238

-2.92%

Enfield

213,322

217,537

207,914

211,949

-5,588

-2.57%

Hackney

174,257

191,474

162,718

168,006

-23,468

-12.26%

Hillingdon

207,589

209,239

195,938

202,194

-7,045

-3.37%

Kingston upon Thames

113,162

118,114

92,471

93,460

-24,654

-20.87%

Lambeth

221,441

239,826

211,425

221,042

-18,784

-7.83%

Lewisham

189,978

197,988

181,775

192,803

-5,185

-2.62%

Redbridge

208,754

218,435

190,562

202,501

-15,934

-7.29%

Southwark

201,324

212,807

205,705

204,659

-8,148

-3.83%

Tower Hamlets

173,024

185,841

176,128

179,450

-6,391

-3.44%

Waltham Forest

179,102

186,710

176,128

179,450

-7,260

-3.89%

Wandsworth

223,228

241,701

223,471

224,397

-17,304

-7.16%

Building on from the success of the TurnUP VR campaign run in partnership with Bite the Ballot in the run-up to the EU Referendum, and years of experience working at the grassroots level in marginalised or vulnerable communities, HOPE not hate is announcing a new VR campaign and asking for national and local partners to join us.


For more info, get in touch at [email protected]

Data Sources

1https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/elections/electoralregistration/bulletins/electoralstatisticsforuk/2016

2http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/04/30/70-percent-young-people-registered-vote-general-election_n_7178064.html

3https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3575/How-Britain-voted-in-2015.aspx

4http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/169889/Completeness-and-accuracy-of-the-2014-electoral-registers-in-Great-Britain.pdf

5http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-reviews-and-research/new-report-shows-at-least-6m-people-not-registered-to-vote

State of May 2015 register and comparison with December 2014, data supplied in August 2015 by Electoral Commission for the HOPE not hate Report “Britain’s Missing Voters” (September 2015)

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