Something rather sinister will happen in East Hampshire on May 5, setting democracy back by more than 150 years, writes Ian James of East Hampshire Green Party.

In 1865 the USA abolished slavery, giving former slaves equal voting rights as white citizens.

But many states, mainly southern, enacted so-called Jim Crow laws designed to deny black Americans their right to vote.

In 1965 US federal law got rid of the Jim Crow laws.

Today the southern state of Georgia is being accused of introducing a brand-new ‘Jim Crow’ law, one including the requirement to provide photo ID at the polling station.

US observers are very well practised in recognising discriminatory voting laws. We should heed the warning.

To vote in the local elections on May 5, including here in East Hampshire, you will need photo ID.

The postal and proxy voting system will not be affected by this new requirement.

We are told it is to stop voter ‘fraud’. I can recall only one significant case. So why do we need a new law to fix a problem that does not exist?

The Tory government is becoming increasingly more authoritarian is why.

The most recent examples of this include more laws restricting the rights of peaceful protest.

But existing public order laws give police astoundingly wide powers already.

People forced to abandon their families and homes and flee in fear of their lives to seek asylum here have been criminalised.

The government processed just four per cent of asylum claims made in 2021.

Of those, 84 per cent were granted as legitimate.

The UK asylum system is broken for sure, and it’s government ineptitude that has broken it.

Inhumane deportation laws will not fix it.

The government also wants to pull out of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Could it be they want to introduce even more repressive laws that would breach our human rights?

Perhaps you think that you will never protest on the M25, or never be a refugee.

Perhaps such wide-ranging laws will catch what you want to do, though; perhaps you will be next.

As Pastor Gustav Niemöller of Germany said in 1946: “First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me – and there was no-one left to speak for me.”