Democracy SOS is Momentum’s first major campaigning initiative. Supported by TSSA, it focuses on registering voters for the May 2016 local elections. The deadline for registration for those elections is 1 December.
The results of the May elections are likely to be seen as a referendum on Corbyn’s leadership, and if the results aren’t strong enough they are likely to be swooped on by the right-wing. There has been a particular crisis about voter registration since the Tories have introduced a new system of individual registration. An estimated 1.9 million people have lost their right to vote, and only 25% of 17 year olds are on the register In the past one person in a household could register everyone living there. Now for new registrations each individual must register on their own. The likelihood is many won’t. Students, those new to the country and those living in shared or temporary housing are particularly at risk — also the groups least less likely to vote Tory. The registration for these elections will also feed in to the boundary commission’s decisions on how to re-draw the parliamentary constituencies. If we don’t get people signed up it is likely to mean fewer MPs for Labour areas for the 2020 election. It is gerrymandering! Socialists should get involved in these campaigns. But we need to also make sure that the registration campaign talks about political issues. We need to link it to the fight for decent housing for all, against the tax credit cuts, migrant rights and the campaign for a real living wage. We mustn’t just register voters; we must give them the reasons to vote Labour!