(Picture: Melanie and Martin Pask campaigning for voter registration)
92 year-old Harry Leslie Smith is a survivor of the Great Depression, a second world war RAF veteran and an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy. He has written several books about Britain during the depression, the war, and post-war austerity. (Check him out on Twitter: @Harryslaststand)
Currently the Grimsby Labour Party and our MP, Melanie Onn, are leafletting and talking to voters in certain areas to remind them how important it is to register your vote. In her latest ‘Westminster Watch’ column in the Grimsby Telegraph, Melanie quotes what the great man says about voting:
“All of us, me included, have sometimes done too little to help maintain our democracy. We have said to ourselves, I am too busy or not informed enough to be of any help in setting our world to right. But we are wrong, and every time we stand aside and let professional politicians tell us what to think and what the problems are we will receive hollow rhetoric.”
She then gives her own view:
“Like me, you will have received a letter from the council about making sure you, and everyone in your property, are on the electoral register. Lots of people don’t realise it is a legal requirement to be on the register, that they need to tell the council if they’re moving house, or that it’s not linked to their council tax accounts - so they mistakenly think changes happen automatically. As if bureaucracy could ever be so simple! As we rare lesser-spotted party activists go round Grimsby knocking on your doors, it is noticeable when there are nearly whole streets without one house on the electoral register. That means there are streets of people in Grimsby locked out of having a voice in how their town is run locally or what they think needs to be done nationally.
Sometimes non-registration is down to a high turnover of renters. But often people aren’t aware that the registration system changed before the General Election and now every person in a house over 18 needs to sign up individually to be able to vote. So, if you have received that letter, please don’t leave it on top of the microwave (where all of my ‘urgent/to do’ mail sits) or on the mantelpiece, and forget about it! Fill it in, send it back and make sure your voice is heard when it counts. You can do it online if the letter has been misplaced.”