Thursday, June 28, 2012


*** ‘tergiversation!’***  = turning one’s back on previously held convictions.
Wednesday 27th June 2012,
British Democracy has again been sold down the river, carried away with the flotsam of  party politics scattered by the Liberal Democrats.
During this afternoon the almost empty chamber of the Commons listened to passionate exhortations from the MPs - Geoffrey Clifton Brown, Gary Streeter, Nick de Bois and Heather Wheeler, explaining why the expatriate citizen should have the right to vote for Life. Mr Clifton Brown had tabled a clause last week which would give all Britons Abroad a vote (representation) for LIFE.
An extract from a letter by a campaign supporter  (Margaret Hales) was read by Nick de Bois. 
Yet David Heath, Deputy Leader and Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome persuaded  Mr Clifton Brown to withdraw his clause.  This was his reasoning:-
what are registration officers to do to identify all those abroad who might be qualified to vote? Putting an onus on them similar to the responsibility we are placing on them in this Bill to seek out everyone who could possibly be qualified to vote would provide an insuperable problem for them if applied to overseas electors. I think that the hon. Member for The Cotswolds would probably acknowledge that that is the case.  Then very shortly after he said….
I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his new clause. He has made some very important points and I undertake that the Government will give them serious consideration. We will see whether there are proposals that we might wish to bring forward in due course to address some of his points.
So many ifs and buts… So for the foreseeable future, the British Citizen Abroad will still not be represented after 15 years.  I myself will never again have a representative MP, for next year I am disenfranchised.  
Was it the Liberal Democrats who not openly, but surreptitiously in the tearooms of Westminster, pulled the rug from under the foundation for this campaign that we and so many other expatriates have tried so hard to build.  The Citizens abroad have been thrown aside like some unwanted rubbish to float away. 
Here are the views of Nick Clegg – as expressed by his assistant Rory Belcher.
“Nick appreciates that there are some British expatriates who have lived abroad for over 15 years and who want to vote in British elections. However, as you may know, Nick supports the existing legislation on this issue, including the removal of the right to vote after 15 years of living abroad. If a Briton has settled in another country, it is intuitive that they would know about and be directly affected by the issues of that country. If they want to become politically active, then they should register to vote in  the country they have settled in.”

Did Mr. Clegg put pressure on Mr Heath?   It is a mystery why Mr. Clifton-Brown changed his mind.  Internal politics?  “We mustn’t  expose cracks in the coalition must we?”
    Is Nick Clegg a Leader? Is Nick Clegg a Statesman?  I do not think so. 
Was there not here a glorious opportunity to stand up for British Citizens – The Citizens who are at the cutting edge of British Influence in the World. – The Citizens who spread the spirit of Britain. An opportunity for Britain to stand tall amongst the Nations.
   Is any Britain Abroad proud of this performance in Parliament?  I do not think so.
Hope always remains.   This Bill has to go before the Lords – once again we must express our concerns and get the peers on our side.
There is no good reason for the Clause to have been withdrawn.  There is absolutely no reason why the current process of registration which I have performed every year should not in some form continue.  There are no increased administrative difficulties. At the next election in 2015 let us all remember the role of the Liberal Democrats in this matter.  Tell your children, your parents, your aunts and cousins.  Tell your friends.  Tell all in Britain what the Liberal Democrats have done this day. 
‘The Liberal Democrats are opposed to Life-time Democracy for British Citizens.’
Withdrawal statement by Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown
May I suggest to the Deputy Leader of the House and to the Committee a practical way of dealing with the issue? The hon. Gentleman should table an amendment on Report or an amendment should be tabled in another place to take powers to extend but not reduce the 15-year period at a time when the Government are satisfied that the registration process is robust and maintains the integrity of the electoral register. He would be able to do that in tandem with the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, his hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper), who told the House last week that he would look at the measures for the registration process that I suggested to him—namely, using the passport as an identity document, abolishing the annual requirement to register, perhaps introducing a permanent opt-in for people who had registered validly once, and the possibility of using British embassies so that people could register and, even better, vote there. The Cabinet Office Minister undertook to look carefully at those measures, which could be introduced under the Bill and under the existing legislation and secondary legislation. I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the House table an amendment to take a power to extend the 15 years when the Government are satisfied that those measures are in place. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my new clause.
Note – There is no mention of Life-time Democratic Representation here!  
Removal of the `15 year limit’ is not mentioned. Only extension!
Mr.Clifton Brown is intelligent and passionate.  Why did he change his mind?
What conspiracies are constructed over the coffee cups in Westminster?
We must fight again in the House of Lords. 
Author Brian Cave

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