In a time of unprecedented attacks on democratic rights, Labour MPs have today called for all UK residents, including migrants, to be given equal rights to vote. This urgent appeal, reported tonight in The Independent, is backed by TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes, and activists from campaigns which have played a prominent role in the battle for migrants’ rights. Tomorrow, Labour Conference will have the chance to vote this policy into Labour’s next manifesto, as part of the free movement and migrants’ rights motion backed by the Labour Campaign for Free Movement and submitted by 5 local parties – we hope delegates will answer the call, and Labour and trade union members will support the #LetUsVote campaign!
We are living through a dangerous moment, with a new right wing Tory government and a resurgent far right promoting an agenda of racism and hate. Migrants are at the sharp end of this.
Labour must be the champion of migrants’ rights in British politics. We must not allow working class people to be divided on the basis of where they are from.
But speaking out on behalf of migrants is not enough. As representatives and activists of the labour movement, we understand that people only ever win justice and beat prejudice when they have a voice of their own. At minimum, this means having the right to vote.
At present, residents of the UK from countries outside of the Commonwealth and Ireland cannot vote in general elections, and could not vote in the EU referendum in 2016.
Millions of people who have made their home here cannot vote here. It is fundamentally wrong that so many millions of people are denied a vote in decisions which affect them deeply.
So at this Labour Party conference and beyond, we will support moves to extend equal rights to vote to all UK residents. And we will support moves to put this extension of the franchise into Labour’s next general election manifesto.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary
Katia Widlak, the3million
Alena Ivanova, Another Europe is Possible
Preet Gill MP
Alex Sobel MP
Rachael Maskell MP
Rosie Duffield MP
Clive Lewis MP
Lloyd Russell Moyle MP
Paul Sweeney MP
Tulip Siddiq MP
Maya Goodfellow, journalist and author