Union-backed bus tour hits UK, starting today in London

The Daily Mirror / Hope Not Hate bus pictured in Manchester, 2013

The Daily Mirror / Hope Not Hate bus pictured in Manchester, 2013

A union-backed campaign to register people to vote today gets underway in London.

Across the UK as a whole, some 7.5 million people risk missing out on the vote that they are entitled to – and with 73 seats across the Greater London, there are fears that huge numbers of the capital’s voters will be among those who will not be able to take part in the upcoming election. 

To drive up voter awareness, a registration roadshow is rolling into the capital, parking up in Brent and Southwark to seek out and register would-be voters.

The NoVoteNoVoice double decker – powered by a Daily Mirror, HOPE note hate, Operation Black Vote, Operation Disabled Vote and Unite coalition – will target those groups where drop off rates are causing greatest concern: the young, those in rented housing and minority communities.

In Brent, with only 67% of the eligible voting population on the roll, 5,648 voters have fallen off the roll. While in Southwark, where 6,100 have dropped off the register, the NVNV team will target young voters in a bid to improve on the fact that only 44% of 19-24 year olds were registered before law changes were brought in last year.

According to the NVNV team, patchy promotion of those changes – away from household and onto individual registration – could be behind the drop off in potential voter numbers, which is why the eye-catching bus will be equipped with everything would-be voters need to get registered. Where people are uncertain about their status they can check that too using the unique VoteBooster technology that allows voters to check if they are on the roll there and then.

Nick Lowles of HOPE not hate said: “Elections are the life-blood of any democracy so it is a scandal that so many people cannot vote. The government’s own figures show that 8,500,000 people – 17.7% of all eligible voters – are not registered to vote. And what is worse is that it is those groups who most need a voice – the young, those on lower incomes and minority communities – who are worst affected.

“Giving people the chance to vote is absolutely essential and I would urge everyone to support the No Vote, No Voice campaign and start talking to their friends, families and neighbours about the importance of voting.”

Ros Wynne-Jones of the Daily Mirror said: “Politicians have been too relaxed about the registration changes being understood, but as we cannot wait for Westminster to wake up, we’re getting out there to talk to people about the value of voting.

“Simply registering sends a message to politicians. It says, if you want to win my vote then you must talk to me and listen to me. People may feel hacked off with political life in this country but our message is ‘don’t sit this out – your vote is your power, use it’.”

Ellen Clifford for Operation Disabled Vote said: “Disabled people remain one of the most marginalised and excluded groups in society and every day barriers to participation include exercising our democratic right to vote. On the road with the NVNV tour we’ll be talking to disabled people about how they can vote and the access standards they can expect at polling stations.

“If disabled people want politicians to prioritise the issues that matter most to us then we need to make disabled voter power really count.”

Anthony Curley national coordinator of Unite young members added: “The saying goes that ‘if you vote you get stuff, if you don’t you get stuffed’. There’s a worrying trend of young people not engaging with political process, too many aren’t registering to vote – I fear that may become the habit of a lifetime.

“We need to mobilise the voting power of younger people, get them on that roll so that politicians of all parties think about our countries’ future, not just getting over the finishing line in May.”

The NVNV bus will stop at Brent (2 March); Hastings (3 March); Brighton (4 March); Southampton (5 March); Bristol (6 March); Cardiff (7 March); Birmingham (8 March); Chester (9 March); Liverpool (10 March); Manchester (11 March); Calder Valley (12 March); Sheffield (13 March); Leeds (14 March) and Newcastle (15 March).

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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