Socialist Worker

Does Islington care about voter registration?

by Claudia Webbe
Issue No. 1990

The borough of Islington has the lowest level of voter registration in London, which as a city has the lowest rates of registration in the country.

Only 67 percent of eligible voters there are on the register, compared with 84 percent and 96 percent in the neighbouring boroughs of Camden and Haringey.

Black and minority ethnic communities make up a significant portion of the 33 percent missing from Islington’s electoral register.

The perceived lack of action and urgency by Islington’s Liberal Democrat run council could give the impression of a lack of interest in black and minority ethnic communities, young people in particular, having a political voice.

Islington council has yet to engage bodies such as Operation Black Vote. The deadline for those who wish to vote in the May council elections is 13 March.

Although black and minority ethnic communities make up almost one third of Islington’s population, the perception on the ground is that they are completely politically alienated.

Many feel that the widespread cut in funding to the black voluntary sector has further compounded this problem.

Across the borough, black and minority ethnic communities are under-represented in educational achievement and over-represented among the poor, suffering the worst levels of child poverty, unemployment and overcrowding.

Black communities living in areas such as Finsbury Park have experienced the worst levels of deprivation, racist attacks—and voter registration apathy.

If we are not vigilant in defence of our electoral rights then how will these issues be addressed?

There is a clear duty on local authorities to ensure that their residents have the vote. A hard hitting doorstep registration drive is required.

Taking the campaign to the street is where the real battle will be won—talking to people and persuading them that voting can make a difference. This is a campaign that we should all unite around.

Claudia Webbe is the vice-chair of the Operation Trident independent advisory group, tackling gun crime across London, and the former director of Westminster race equality council


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News
Sat 4 Mar 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1990
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