Kenny MacAskill: I was wrong about election gerrymandering before, but not this time

It was scandalous that some EU citizens were prevented from voting in the European Parliament elections (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
It was scandalous that some EU citizens were prevented from voting in the European Parliament elections (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
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The exclusion of EU citizens from taking part in the EU elections was not just an oversight, writes Kenny MacAskill.

A few years ago when still in ministerial office, I foolishly sent a tweet comparing action by Tory councils against poll tax non-payers, with voter gerrymandering in the US southern states. Whilst there was some legitimacy in my comments it was hyperbole and inappropriate for a minister.

I didn’t need the condemnation from conservative columnists or political opponents as the First Minister had rightly upbraided me. Of course, many of those most trenchant in their denials and condemnation of my comparison then are now wringing their hands as Brexit Britain slides into nastiness and even overt abuse of the democratic process.

The poll tax was driven by right-wing ideology about only paying for what you use and forcing a privatisation of the collective.

READ MORE: Brexit: ‘Democratic disaster’ as hundreds of EU nationals denied a vote

It would though have had an effect on voter registration, which no doubt, whilst not the real reason, was far from unwelcome for those making the change.

Now more overt steps are being taken to interfere with the need, not just the desire, for citizens to participate. Identification and other rules have been brought in that impede and seem malign.

But the exclusion of EU citizens from their democratic right in the EU elections wasn’t down to oversight or just unforeseen consequences.

Those in charge knew what the outcome would be. It most certainly was down to a desire to restrict the franchise. That’s what’s happened for generations in Alabama and Georgia. It’s reprehensible but it’s now happening here as a right-wing American model is followed.

READ MORE: EU election results: Scots reject Brexit as Labour and Conservatives humiliated