Thursday, March 10, 2011

Action for Votes

ACTION FOR VOTES to the Westminster Parliament
(updated 3rd April 2011)
 Items about votes crowd in. We seem to be getting close to achieving the objective of extending the voting powers of expatriates.
In the House of Lords on 2nd March there was a debate [To change the voting arrangements for expatriates]- 
to view http://lefourquet.net/Hansard H-L-2-March-11.doc This Hansard report indicates that Mark Harper MP (Forest of Dean) and Parliamentary Secretary for Political and Constitutional Reform is informed. [I am grateful to the Labour International Organisation for sending me the Hansard report - The expatriate branches of the two main political parties are collaborating on this matter.]
This is important because:-
A Government which considers itself the arbiter of the grant of the vote, is treating the 'citizen' as a 'subject' - a form of servility. Whereas the true position of Government should be as a servant of the citizens.
It is for this reason that a change in the law is an essential commencement of a change in the relationship between the British Citizen in Europe and the British Government.
The elements of the matter.
1. Mr. Harper appears to be minded to introduce a bill which will remove the 15 year cut off for expatriates (everywhere or just Europe? - we do not know, though it should be a inalienable right for all British Citizens ).
2. Incidentally to this- Mr. Harry Schindler ( a British National who now lives in Italy but fought in the army through Italy in 1944- see the links given below) sought a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights ECHR on the 15 year ruling [i.e. no franchise after 15 years abroad].   The latest information is via the link below
http://www2.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2010/2222.html
The outcome is hopefully  nearing sucess.
The ECHR has requested of the UK a response to certain questions.
The weighty argument for a change has been laid out!

Mr. Schindler's story can be followed in the following links.



3. On 16th March there was a request for a judicial Review brought by James Preston on the same issue.  It is understood that the arguments will be heard in the autumn.

4. Contrary to this, there is considerable body of ignorant opinion in the UK ( and previously among MPs and Peers) which seems to imagine that we expatriates have no interest in the UK. Mr Harper would have to face this confrontation and he needs our support to confound that opinion.
5. We must give Mr. Harper all the support possible.

6. Below, I suggest a framework letter to Mr. Harper. If we do not push hard at this time, we may not get another opportunity.
7. In the House of Lords debate, it is mentioned that the UK constituency base for votes for expatriates is often not helpful to them and is a reason why some/many do not use the short term vote which they have. You may wish to develop this thought  and the following in your letter.
    The existing process of voting by post allows almost no time at all  (one week) for the papers to arrive and then to be returned.  Proxy voting is not secret and can easily be abused. 

If the case is won, then other benefits may well follow:- on health costing; the freedom to move in Europe without direct or indirect restrictions on banking, investments and social security benefits; the smoothing out of double taxation rules; the standardisation of the £ versus the Euro (like Denmark, where the Krone is still the currency). One would have an MP to whom to take your concerns. You could be truly British AND truly European- eventually- if this push succeeds. Failure to take the opportunity could lead to the UK seceding from Europe if Eurosceptic attitudes persist. This little act of extending the vote is not in itself important, but in changing the outlook of fortress Britain, it is!
You yourself may not wish to vote, but a change in the law to give us the vote for life is perhaps like pushing at the political log-jam. It could bring in its wake an understanding of Europe which has been lacking in the UK. I have written various 'essays' on the UK attitude (refer to the INDEX of the blogsite). In the 1920's people retired to Bournemouth Bexhill or Blackpool. Now in 2011 the destination is often France, Spain or Italy. The continental countries are no longer foreign places. The British diaspora in Europe (and the world) is important to the policies (the interests) of Britain. British people need to be able to relocate in Europe without hindrance and to take with them the spirit of Britain and the certain understanding that we have the support of the British Government and that we can in turn relate to that Government. It should be no more difficult to retire to Montpellier today than it was to retire to Torquay in the '30s.
Today 9.73% of all British State pensioners live outside the UK. Even in the current financially difficult times in which the value of the £ has dropped more than 25%, the pensioners continue to move to the continent.

The framework letter.

Dear Mr. Harper,
I learn [from the Pensioners Debout blog site], that you are possibly minded to introduce a bill before parliament extending the vote to expatriates beyond the current 15 years, at least for those who live in the EU. It should be a natural Right, for life.

I feel strongly that this should come about.
(here is included a variety of reasons - you may well have you own list)
I am a UK pensioner.
The UK is the State responsible for our health costs because of EU laws. Health laws of the EU/UK are important to us.
Treaties involving the EU (and our country of residence in the EU) and the UK are of enormous importance to us, and yet we cannot give an opinion on them.
As an (ex-teacher/ fireman/ soldier etc) we are still British taxpayers.
The UK provides our OAP.
Our savings are through UK establishments. We have a bank account in the UK.
Our grandchildren are at school in the UK. Our children live in England and we are in almost daily communication by internet and telephone.
We are as aware through TV and the Internet of British Life as one could be in the UK

Yours sincerely....

It would be helpful to word your own letter, stating your own personal experience/reasons. I urge that one is always courteous- and as brief as possible. Mr. Harper is aware that although you are urged to write, you do so with your own conviction. Circular letters and petitions do not have an immense value.
I strongly emphasise that your support is necessary.

If you have not already done so, PLEASE WRITE an email to psmarkharper@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

If you copy to  lefourquet@gmail.com (Bcc) it would help. You can circulate this information as you wish.
You could also inform your own MP, if you have one.

An additional note -  It is my view that the Consulates could be used to receive both postal votes and secure internet votes.