Sunday, April 26, 2009

From the VAR VILLAGE VOICE _ USE YOUR VOTE!


 EXPATS UNITE –

OR ELSE!

I don’t know whether you noticed or not, but there was an interesting headline in newspapers recently, announcing that President Sarkozy was proposing that French Expatriates, those now living and working overseas, should be represented more fully in the French Senate, by their own Deput├ęs.. He was proposing that the French in Britain, at least 400,000 at last count, should have their specific representative, as should also French citizens in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Monaco, Latin America, the US, the Asia Pacific region, the middle East, and Africa.

Not surprisingly the Socialist left howled with rage, denouncing the scheme as “Closet Gerry Mandering” (a hark back to corrupt politics in the UK), further saying “Studies show French people living abroad are more likely to vote for a centre right party than a left wing party.”

Considering that these same expats have likely left the country because of these same left wing, obstructionalist, strike riven, extremely expensive but somewhat unbalanced policies, in order to earn a living, they have a point.

And the hell with Democracy, and the right of everyman to a vote.

However at least the French Socialists had the guts to say it out loud and admit it.

Whereas of course, our own Dear New Lab UK Government has never had the guts to admit that it will do absolutely anything to deny the right to Expatriates to vote.

First of all they limited one’s right to vote in the UK, based on number of years living outside the UK, meantime welcoming thousands, upon hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers, legal or illegal, (and benefit claimants) into the inner cities, their political power base.

You as an Expatriate may well be paying your taxes to the UK, but they will do their utmost to deny you the vote.

And Registering to vote from overseas becomes ever more complicated.

The latest salvo in the campaign, which followed shortly on the most disastrous Budget in modern history, when New Lab, thinly disguised as the newly totally politicised Civil Service, let leash their political heavily overpaid spin meister PR Rottweiler’s on “Benefit Fraudsters” on the Costa Blanca, Costa Money, Spain.

This achieved headlines only on BBC news but very little elsewhere. Why, one wonders.

This heavily mis-targeted salvo left everyone wondering for heaven’s sake, why wasn’t the Dept. of Social Security pursuing the rampant Benefit Fraud – and by god it is rampant all over the UK – back home. Hallo, excuse me, where have you been all these years?

But of course, anything to try and take the attention of what actually was happening back at home, including the hugely rich and disgusting Smeargate scandal straight out of Downing Street, featuring New Lab Rottweilers, Damian McBride and Derek Draper - and those nasty people who live abroad, theoretically in the lap of luxury, all those rich gits, are just sitting targets, right! Never mind that lots of them, in fact most of them, are right minded British citizens, who have paid into the UK systems all their working lives, many of whom still pay tax to the UK.

Therefore, as New Lab reasoning goes, “They are not going to vote for us, therefore find any reason possible to discriminate against them and disenfranchise them.”

Democracy hell!

For example rightful Disability Benefits for Expats. The fight goes on. MP’s like Roger Gale, of Thanet North are fighting tooth and nail on behalf of Expats for their rights.

See below an extract of letter written by Roger Gale to Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled of the Dept. of Works Pensions –which Dept. had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the European Court of Justice and whom ever since have been dragging their feet in executing what the ECJ says is a fair judgment.

“I have to reiterate that it seems to me that the Government is seeking to find every way of avoiding the spirit and to some extent the letter of the findings of the European Court of Justice.

….I want, however, to at this stage take issue with one very specific point made in the second and third paragraphs of the second page of your letter.

I simply cannot accept that it is reasonable for you to assert that “where no appeal was made, decisions made before the ECJ Ruling on the 18th October cannot now be revised because it was not until that court ruling that these decisions were shown to be errors of law”. The fact of the matter is that your decision makers made erroneous decisions that were erroneous in law and passed the finds of those decisions to claimants. Many claimants, not understanding the manner in which these matters work, will have assumed that to appeal would have been pointless and would not therefore at that point have exercised their rights. It was only once the European Court had exercised it’s judgement that many ex-patriot claimants became aware of the fact that they had the right of appeal and lodged those appeals. I believe, therefore, that you are wrong in substance and wrong in law in your assertion. I would ask you to address this single and specific issue immediately and I will revert to you with other matters arising from your letter in due course and once I have sought further opinions.”

Roger gale continued his fight in a letter to the BBC and other UK media following the despicable article (24 April) on benefit fraud in Spain, saying:

“Nobody should condone the abuse of our benefit system, wherever it takes place. The BBC did not need to send a camera crew and reporter on a "freebie" to the Costa del Sol or anywhere else in Spain to uncover instances of benefit fraud. We know that it is taking place on their doorstep in White City and the evidence is to be found using the sports facilities of the country on a daily basis as "disabled" claimants enjoy fresh air and exercise! The fact is that the government has, while making it harder for genuine claimants to receive benefits, signally failed to root out abuse of the system.

“It is a sadness, though, that this report will have distracted attention from the other side of this coin: while there are clearly some UK citizens living abroad and "playing the system" there are others facing illness and genuine hardship that are entitled to assistance that they are being denied.

“The European Court of Justice has ruled that Disability Living Allowance and Carers Allowance, for example, are "exportable" benefits but there is a significant number of UK citizens living within the EU and Switzerland who are finding it difficult if not impossible to claim benefits that they desperately need.

These are not "benefit scroungers". They are people who have, in the main, paid UK taxes throughout their working lives and who have chosen to retire to other countries within Europe. Many of them have served their country in the armed forces or the Foreign and Commonwealth office. They are now growing old and they should be receiving the assistance to which others, arriving in the UK having not paid a penny in UK tax at all, are apparently able to receive automatically.

“I believe that the government, while failing to control benefit fraud, is at the same time seeking to wriggle out of its obligations to a small but significant number of citizens(including some of my own constituents) and that is a disgrace that ought, also, to be highlighted by the UK media."

Re Sarkozy’s idea for MPS for Expats, I raised the idea with Roger Gale, who replied:

“Personally, although I appreciate that a lot of ex-pats would like "their own" MP, I still feel that if the system works as it is supposed to, if overseas voters write to the MP for their last UK address and if that MP then takes responsibility for his/her ex-pat constituents (as I do myself) then there should be no need for another representative. (There are, in fact, about 200 too many MPs in the UK already!)

I cannot influence the Labour party of course but I can and will try to ensure that Conservative MPs - and our candidates for the next election - appreciate the importance of representing their overseas constituents as well as seeking their votes!”

Roger Gale, MP.



So if you want your rights protected, REGISTER TO VOTE! Support your MP.

Distribution to Expat websites.

Anita Rieu-Sicart

EDITOR

VAR VILLAGE VOICE
1142 Route des Miquelets
83510 Lorgues
Tel: 04 94 04 49 60
E: anita@varvillagevoice.com
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