Whatever the disquiet with politics and politicians, it is usually agreed that democracy is A Good Thing. The ability to vote in - or vote out - Councils and Governments is part of what makes us civilised. From that, it follows that the fullest participation in that democracy is also A Good Thing. Low and selective turnouts are a blight on the democratic process; getting more people enthused and involved is key to its continued health.
But out there on the right, someone is deeply unhappy about the idea that a representative cross-section of the electorate might turn out to vote in the upcoming EU referendum. At the batshit collective otherwise known as Breitbart London, Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam has penned “Shock Stats: 1.6 Million New UK Voters Registered in Past 30 Days”, in which he suggests that voters under 45 might swing the referendum outcome.
How might they do that? Well, by voting: “Leave campaigners are concerned that a massive tax payer-funded push to register more than one million young people to vote will drastically alter the country’s European Union (EU) referendum result”. See, it’s “taxpayer-funded”, which means something very bad has happened!
We then find just how bad this is: “Government statistics reveal that in the past month alone, over 1.6 million people have registered to vote in the UK referendum on EU membership, with 900,000 of these registrations coming from those aged under 34 years … Traditionally, younger voters are more inclined to vote to Remain in the European Union than leave”. How does Kassam know? The last referendum was in 1975.
And there was only one of it, so not much of a tradition. But we do know that Kassam, who worships the ground on which UKIP leader Nigel “Thirsty” Farage walks, is not paranoid, no sir. We see confirmation of this in his assertion “The British government has undertaken a massive voter registration campaign, as has the Labour Party and a number of left-wing, pro-EU outfits such as the BBC, Facebook, local councils, Bite the Ballot, 38 Degrees, the Green Party, and more”. The BBC, Facebook and local councils “left-wing” and pro-EU?
It gets worse: Kassam then starts talking to himself, telling “One Leave campaign insider told Breitbart London: ‘It’s very interesting, isn’t it? Vote Leave haven’t really managed to do any voter registration drive. Nor do they have a get out the vote operation on the day. There’s no big data. The other side have the Lib Dem data, the Labour Party data, the Green Party data, and much more. I’m not saying this referendum isn’t winnable, but our side has done very little - relying on flawed polls and media instead’”.
This satisfies the twin objectives of painting a voter registration drive as if it were some kind of election-stealing device, while also putting the boot into Vote Leave, which the head Kipper does not support. And while Kassam shows he’s not paranoid, Farage is reduced to peddling migrant rape scares to get himself noticed.
Only on the rabid right is democracy a bad thing. But they’re not coming to get them.