Alarming numbers across the north east have dropped off the electoral roll which has prompted the #NoVoteNoVoice campaign to head to Newcastle on the final day of its whistlestop trip around England and Wales.
Just 53 days from the 2015 general election the roadshow will hold a ‘mini carnival’ between 10am and 5pm with samba music and free flowers at Grey’s Monument to celebrate voter registration.
Coinciding with Mother’s Day a special appeal will be made to mums, asking them to help get women out the female vote. More than nine million did not vote in the 2010 general election.
In Newcastle alone some 18,000 people have disappeared from the register, with a frightening 55 per cent drop off in Ouseburn ward where there are 9,852 fewer people on the register than this time last year.
Across the river in Gateshead, there has been a 12,962 decline in the number of voters while down the coast numbers are falling too. In Derwentside, Durham, there are 3,280 fewer people on the roll while in Hull the situation should ring alarm bells with 11,970 fewer people on the register than last year.
According to the #NoVoteNoVoice team, patchy promotion of the change away from household to individual registration has caused voter numbers to plummet, which is why the eye-catching bus will be equipped with everything would-be voters need to get registered.
The #NoVoteNoVoice double decker – powered by a Daily Mirror, HOPE note hate, Operation Black Vote, Operation Disabled Vote and Unite the union coalition – will spend the day in Newcastle city centre.to raise awareness of the staggering scale of the region’s registration troubles.
Ahead of the visit 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 8.5 million people – 17.7 per cent of all eligible voters – are not registered to vote.
“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.”
Ros Wynne-Jones of the Daily Mirror said: “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’.”
“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” said Ellen Clifford for Operation Disabled Vote. “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 the political process, too many aren’t registering to vote – I fear that may become the habit of a lifetime.”