This year, the UK has rightly been celebrating the centenary of the extension of the right to vote to women. However, fewer citizens are aware that 1918 also marked the abolition of ‘property restrictions’ – but only for men aged over twenty-one.
Before 1918, men – at that time the only ones allowed to vote – had to meet certain qualifications in terms of land or building ownership to qualify for suffrage.
Even though it was abolished for men in 1918, it was imposed on women at the same time – and women faced a further restriction in that only women aged over thirty were enfranchised.
It was only after a further wait of ten years that suffrage was extended to all men and women over the age of twenty-one, with no property qualification.
Conservative commentator Peter Hitchens has famously said that:
And today, as spotted by Ed Clarke and first reported on the ‘Same Difference’ blog, polling company YouGov has been asking respondents whether voting rights should be withdrawn for UK citizens on benefits:
If Peter Hitchens is right, British people should be worrying that the Establishment has taken a first step to shaping public opinion to accept the idea that the disadvantaged in our society should be further deprived of their right and ability to influence the direction of the country with their vote.
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