Saturday, June 25

Johnson, the civil libertarian, wants to have his voter card and eat it | Marina Hyde

“IIf you ever ask me ” Boris Johnson once wrote of ID cards, “on the streets of London, or anywhere else, public or private, to present my ID card as evidence that I am who I claim to be, when I have done nothing wrong and am simply wandering around and breathing. fresh air of God like any other free-born Englishman, then I’ll take that card out of my wallet and physically eat it in the presence of whatever state emanation has asked me to present it. ”

Correct. Well, in a plot twist worthy of Dial-A-Plot-Twist, the emanation of the state turns out to be Boris Johnson himself. Yes, despite warnings and objections from civil liberties activists and racial equality activists, in fact, despite the fact that in-person election fraud does not exist in the UK, the Johnson government is pushing for the legislation to introduce mandatory voter identification in elections. We know that these plans are illiberal because the traditional hero of a Boris Johnson column, namely Boris Johnson, has already opposed them.

Of course, in Johnson’s published work, Free-born Englishmen are always admired for doing exuberant things like “hitting hedges with staves”, even as the Johnson government seeks to ban any protest that is too loud or in some way “annoying.” In Johnson’s canon, the accolades are always being sung of “blind drunk scrumpy peasants approved outside the EU” and yet the author’s first act as mayor of London was to immediately ban the consumption of alcohol on the tube. Sometimes I wonder if Boris Johnson is a committed civil libertarian in the same way that I am an unparalleled opening hitter for England.

Lingering doubt certainly crossed my mind as I sat in front of his last podium speech on Monday night, for which the beloved British audience was once again invited to press their noses against their televisions and marvel in appreciation of the soybeans that Churchill graciously conceded. about them his highly qualified permission to hug his own family and friends.

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Each stage of the Covid pandemic has brought new hells, but one of the most utterly objectionable parts of “unlocking” is having to look grateful as the prime minister misdoes standard freedoms from time immemorial and returns them to us as one. kind of special gift entirely in your gift. As for the old rights Johnson removed, we’ve been without them much longer than we would have had if the prime minister hadn’t been a slave to his own long-standing inability to make a tactical decision in time last fall.

Anyway, let’s go back to the Downing Street Gift Suite. Having failed to gently tell people that they were running out of government-approved excuses for not having to see family members, Johnson set about keeping an eye on those who planned to do so. Namely: hug. (In fact, hugging has never been against the law.) “You should if you think it’s appropriate,” intoned a PM whose history of intimacy has always been the benchmark of what’s right, “and if you think the risks are very, very low. But you have to exercise caution and common sense. “Increasingly, the only appropriate response to this is: Thank you, but I’ll do what I want, Cuck Norris.

As for the continued ban on dancing at weddings, it seems absurd for a man with Johnson’s image of himself to think it’s remotely appropriate to stand on a day where there were four Covid deaths in the UK and act. like the preacher father in Footloose. I was amused to stumble upon a subsequent tweet directed at Johnson by a member of the public who had just bled from this nonsense. “You may not want to marry yourself,” he said pointedly, “but many other people do!” And you know, now he says it like this … maybe it reads more like the subconscious rearguard action of someone trying to delay their own nuptials. “Of course I want to get married honey, but let’s wait until we can have 500 people and they can celebrate us rhythmically, as they would only wish.” (I wonder who will ultimately pay for the wedding. In this dark stage, let’s consider ourselves lucky if Downing Street rules out a petro-state.)

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Aware of Johnson’s endless perversions of the term “common sense,” let’s get back to this suspiciously unnecessary business of voter identification. Yesterday a Downing Street spokesman was insisting you already need a photo ID to pick up a package. When this committed non-elitist was pointed out that, as everyone knows, you don’t actually need a photo ID to do this, journalists were directed to the post office guide who says they would need a photo ID if wished. pick up a package for, say, your grandmother. So be sure to bring your card when you vote for it.

Speaking of the post, there are certainly issues with fraudulent postal vote – and yet the Conservatives, strangely, are doing nothing about it. Perhaps, like complicating voting in person, voting by mail is one of those things that is generally considered to “favor the conservatives.” (In recent years, by the way, the main thing that “favors the conservatives” is the Labor Party).

Regarding the government’s decision to flirt with complications that can lead to voter suppression, it recalls the joke that John Oliver made in 2013, in response to that year’s attempt to roll back the voting rights of the United States. Among those who strove to nullify electoral freedoms was the state of North Carolina, where there had been precisely one documented case of in-person voter fraud during previous presidential elections. “The problem is not people show up and not be who they say they are, “said Oliver. “His person. As in one. Singular. One man, out of every four and a half million people who voted in the last elections. He could have gotten the same result just by passing a bill that said, ‘Dave can’t vote, he knows why.’

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The same is true in the UK today. In 2019 there were A conviction for in-person election fraud across the UK, given to a man who had voted twice in European Parliament elections (possibly even more useless than voting once). Yet the government is pushing ahead with legislation to spend a conservative estimate of £ 20 million per election to stop something that is not even happening in any meaningful way. What kind of return on your investment is that for the business part? The only reasonable conclusion is that the investment is in fact in a system that will end up favoring the conservatives. Think of them as the party of fun business, and it all makes common sense.

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