This Blog discusses the problems of the British expatriate pensioner in France & Europe. If you are concerned then it is essential that you write to your MP or a Minister. Links to find your MP, and ideas for a letter are at on the right below. You can also comment or email the blog author -- see profile.
Political Action is ESSENTIAL - one must not just grouse. View "FOUR CONCERNS of this blog".
In spite of the recession and the huge drop in value of the £ the elderly Britons continue to leave. Only the Commonwealth countries of Canada and Australia where the State pension is frozen has there been a fall in the number of resident pensioners.
The population in France has increased 1.5 %.
The total outside of Europe has fallen by 0.04% . In the EU beyond Britain, it has increased by 0.04%. The actual numbers of pensioners who migrate are higher than they seem because one has to discount the numbers who die who are subtracted in the total count and should be added in,because that number is replaced by new comers!
The top six nations in Europe for expatriate British pensioner citizens are.
Increases are in the last three months since February 2011 -note!
Ireland 123,210 increase of 1,020
Spain 102,000 increase of 840
France 54,980 increase of 810
Germany 38,130 increase of 330
Italy 37,900 increase of 110
Cyprus 17.61 increase of 130
Does anyone in the British Government ever ask why this migration is taking place?
The Civil Service in London, as agents of the British Government, have written to the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] in the case of Harry Shindler.He is claiming the right to be represented in the Westminster Parliament.That is, he wants to have a vote and have a say in how Britain is managed.
The Civil Service is as you might suppose, totally opposed to Mr. Shindler’s request.
[A little background:-Mr. Shindler is 90 years old.He fought in World War II in Italy, notably at the Anzio beachhead which was a bloody experience,and later settled in Italy after an earlier spell at home in the UK.He married an Italian girl.He has been resident in Italy for 29 years (since the age of 60!) but has returned frequently, even in 2011, on visits to England.He has always been passionate for the Rights of his fellow Citizens, having founded the British expatriate Association in Italy and active in the Italy Star Association of British ex-soldiers. He brought a case on expatriate voting rights before the ECHR]
The letter from the Civil Service (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) says or implies several astonishing ideas.
1.It suggests that Mr. Shindler has not exhausted ‘domestic remedies’ (i.e. a passage through British Courts) prior to submitting his application.So?No doubt a delaying tactic.
2.It indicates that Mr. Shindler has not demonstrated that he has been adversely affected by not being able to vote in the last 14 years or in the future.Well, he hasn’t lost an arm, or caught some horrible disease because he hasn’t been able to vote.But he hasn’t been able to influence the political progress in England in his own small way.You may as well say ‘let’s take away the vote from everyone,no one will suffer or be adversely affected!’
3.The letter observes that other cases of a similar nature have been disallowed in the past, and imply that the development of expatriate communities and internet and other communications are no different from 2007, when the last case was heard.Oh yes they are, and continue changing at a great pace.Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, are examples of the rapid convergence of the world.The democratic movements in the Arab Nations and elsewhere similarly so.Tunisians vote for Tunisia in Canberra, Moroccans inCahors.French, Russians and Poles in London.But the Brits cannot vote in Paris!
4.The letter claims that after 29 years in Italy, Mr. Shindler is unlikely to be considered as domiciled in the UK.Oh yes he could!The crazy tax laws of the UK make it well nigh impossible to reject British domicility if you are a British subject.In legal terms you cannot reject your domicility unless you positively take on another!Mr. Shindler has claimed that he has British domicility.Mr. Shindler says he wants to stay British.That alone is evidence of his Britishness.
5. The letter implies that if he wants to have a national vote, then he could take out Italian nationality.Does not that make any loyal Briton angry!
It isn’t the vote as a mechanical activity which is under discussion.It is his bond to the nation of birth and for the society for which he has fought in many ways for most of his life.Even though Mr. Shindler has been resident in Italy (now) for 31 years, that means that for 59 years he has been resident in and devoted to Britain, and is still so today!
Is it not despicable for a Civil Servant to say to a British Citizen, ‘you can transfer allegiance to another State if you want the vote’.In the wider world beyond Europe it is a ludicrous notion.[Japan? Russia? Thailand?] It can be problematic enough in Europe (e.g, Denmark, which forbids dual nationality).
But this deplorable suggestion shows the crass misunderstanding of the nature of Europe.Europe is where the borders are free to cross for the people of all its nations.
If you are a young person you may at times work in France, Holland, Italy and indeed Britain over the course of twenty years.But you remain British at heart.Is it expected by the Civil Servants that you should change your nationality at each move?What insolence!What ignorant thinking! How they lack a sense of history.
Yes indeed, in Europe it would make great sense to be able to vote where your most profound seat of interest chiefly lies.I have considerable sympathy for those young Britons who live in Spain, Italy, France or Germany and who are denied Representation in their State of residence. This is a matter which the European Union should urgently address.But even to these people, I observe to them that it is the treaties between Britain and the EU which enable many to live in their host country.If their loyalties lie mostly or entirely with their country of residence, then they should in truth, take out the nationality of their host country.If they retain a loyalty to Britain, then should they not also have the privilege of having a say in how Britain is managed?More so, if they are almost totally dependent on Britain.The people of Europe are the nerve threads ofthe spirit of European progress. And Britons, each one of them, are ambassadors of British culture.
For the elderly who have retired to a continental country then the picture can be different.For the retired Briton who has so many ties to their land of birth, in terms of family, income, even taxation and of course memories, to deny them Representation in Parliament is unthinking, and crassly insolent.
The Civil Service claims to speak for Britain, the British Nation.The British Nation is the totality of its Citizens.The Civil Service is denying a voice to a great number of British Citizens. Should we tolerate this ‘Insolence of Office’!Should not the people speak?Give the people a voice.
Thoughts from an expatriate - an expatriate who feels ignored and shelved by the Government of Britain on this most important day when all elderly Britons remember the homeland of their youth.
Yes, I watched the remembrance parade pass the Cenotaph. Yes, I watched it from eight hundred miles away. Television brings Britain to my salle de séjour in France, as it brings it the millions of expatriates across the world. What then does Remembrance Day mean to me?
I remember when I was eight and Hitler’s bombs dropped around me and on me. We lived in those early years of World War II in a small terraced house that had a view of one of the main arterial roads from Kent into London. I remember in the days before the Blitz, my mother talking to me as she and I sat close to the bedroom window which looked upon the road., ‘What” she said to me “shall we do if the Germans come?” “They can’t all be bad. They’re all some mother’s sons” she said, as she touched me. Later they came not in person, but overhead in planes and they dropped their bombs. Thirty terraced houses were destroyed and the view from the shattered window became panoramic.
I remember my brother leaving the next day to join, under age, the RAF, and then serving in Cyprus and Italy. He now sleeps and breathes in a home for the mentally sick in Northfleet.
The parade brings silence to myself and my wife. The remembrance of young lives lost. There is also a sense of pride that Britain stood for a time alone against a small minded tyrant who dragooned the young men in Germany against the rest of Europe.
Throughout Europe and indeed the World at this time on November 11th at the 11th hour, there are still British people yearning for the cause of British Pride. But these British people are at the very least, ignored, and at worst scorned, by the insular minded politicians and I can add the insular minded civil servants who advise them, those who manage the British Nation.
The feeling of despair which comes upon me when I sense the lack of understanding by the politicians, of the British Character which brought us through the War and have since upheld what have been called ‘British Values’ throughout the world, brings to my mind the words of the hymn.
When wilt thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people,
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
The politicians speak of the needs of Britain. But Britain does not exist – outside of its citizens, the people. The people of Britain are spread across the world. These expatriates are ambassadors of the values of British civilisation. That is their role, their job! These citizens of Britain should be heard. Their voices should not be silenced, but listened to and respected, by the politicians in London.
Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform
has reported on the 4th November 2011, on the
subject of voting.
(Their remit was the reorganisation of the
electoral register in the UK, so to get a recognition of the
expatriate included- see below - is an advance. The more
extensive representations made by some of us amongst others
are in printed form in the House of Commons Library. They are
indexed in the report to be consulted by MPs.
The Report can be viewed at http://www.lefourquet.net/CRC-FINAL-REPORT-I.pdf
- the library list is on page 35
two references to overseas voters in the report. The first
mentions the inadequacy of the postal vote. A very
welcome observation! The second is copied below.
item. 99. The Committee also received written
evidence from a number of expatriates calling for the
Government to abolish the
current 15 year limit on voting in General Elections
when living overseas. Mark Harper responded that it was
something that Government is considering at the moment,
but we have not reached a decision.
expatriate desire to be recognised is noted. This is a
good thing and a tiny step forward. And note the word 'abolish'.
But it is a
very thin chink in the door. The door is not locked but
If you are
a British expatriate then you are affected by the treaties
between the country where you live and the UK
signed in your name.
If you are
concerned about the way Britain
performs on the world stage.
receive your income from the UK,
have family in the UK, or may
one day return to the UK. Then you should express
YOU CAN make a difference. You can push at the
door! Get out your fingers and Write. One sentence (and a
bit) is enough! You can extend if you wish.
1. To the Minister
for Political and Constitutional Reform,
Harper, Cabinet Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA .
Dear… *****. I am a British citizen and your
want to have a say for life in how my country manages
itself in the
world and in all matters that affect me and my family. Please act in my
interest now and when a vote comes before Parliament. I
want the vote for life.