Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cameron- EUROPE --- The British Citizen

Cameron – Europe  and the British Citizens who live in Europe.
           To Correspondents to Pensioners Debout!
Two political threads weave together –
A/.  Political Representation of the British Citizen abroad at Westminster – Their views must be heard!
B/.  Europe IN/OUT
Lord Lexden gave another well argued speech yesterday (23rd January)  in the House of Lords.  Lord Tyler softened his response and made some telling points on the need for constituencies for British Citizens abroad along the lines of the French system.  Lord Lexden is asked to set up a cross-party committee to examine the situation.  So we are a bit further forward. The cross party committee might even get us designated MPs like the French -eventually.
Yesterday also David Cameron gave his long-awaited speech.  He noted  ''Hundreds of thousands of British people now take for granted their right to work, live or retire in any other EU country." WHY does he not consult them/us? Give us Representation!
Cameron’s speech can be read here.
If Britain devolves from the European Union considerable problems could arise for all the 450,000 Pensioner British Citizens living in Europe outside Britain.
The affect on trade, to and fro, could affect most of the million plus Britons in Europe.
Few of these Britons have a political voice.  If a referendum comes about the voice of the Britons in Europe will not, as things stand, be heard.  THIS is not democracy!
There are ways of getting at the Conservative Party organisation to influence them.
1.  Link onto the following site -   
This is a form with boxes to tick (sort of opinion choices) – Near the base is a box for a postcode – In that you can put your country of residence [France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Cyprus etc,] and your local post code – They will not expect that!  Also give your email and tick for replies. It is also possible to ‘tweet’ a comment.
2. Write to an MP! And give them your opinion.  Addresses can be found here.

The opinion amongst the French on Cameron’s speech (as far as I can judge) is one of puzzlement.  They do not understand the complexity of the British political scene where popular opinion is driven by Farage, The Daily Mail, and The Sun.  The attitude appears to be "If you leave we are sorry, but there you go.'"
If Britain left the EU then the following could/would apply.
All rights accorded to British Citizens under EU laws would cease to apply. The four freedoms of movement of people, goods, services and capital would cease
One would no longer be European Citizens – passports would have to be changed.
Carte-de-Séjours would need to issued and these demand a minimum level of income.
No British Citizen would the have an automatic right to live in France. Those with little capital (trying to set up businesses?) could be asked to leave.
All the 450,000 British Pensioners would be most severely affected.
The State pension would be frozen.  Current legislation would expect it.
Medical subsidy support would cease.  (The Carte Vitale?)
The EHIC [European Health Insurance Card] would cease affecting all British travelers in Europe.
One would no longer have the vote for local commune councils, nor the right to be a local councillor.
Cross Border trade would be affected. Goods from abroad would revert to the practice before 1973.  The purchase of goods by internet could be taxed and subject to import duties. The situation would be the same as for goods imported from the USA, subject to custom duties.
The current relaxation of inheritance laws for European Citizens (although confused) would not operate for the British citizen.
Other nasties could arise.  For example, at one time the French imposed taxes on the import of money. 
At the moment the British Expatriate has no political voice.  The British Government must to take notice of the British Citizens in Europe and act in their interest.

Visit these links to get more information and to take action….
PETITION for the vote -  This needs 500 signatures a day to succeed!
To send your opinion to MPs at Westminster.

To leave a comment .....

Friday, January 18, 2013

The House of Lords debate on Democracy for Expatriates.

The House of Lords debate on Democracy for Expatriates.
January 14th 2013.

It was not a debate, but it was an exhibition of intellectual dishonesty, prejudice and ignorance.

An amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill which would have removed the 15 year limit on the ‘right’ to Representation for expatriate British Citizens  was introduced by Lord Lexden.  This presentation was presented with intellectual rigour,
The full Hansard report can be read here Hansard - House of Lords January 14th 2013

What followed was not a debate but observations by various ‘Peers’.  Lord Gardiner, the Government spokesman and Government Whip, ended the exchange and requested Lord Lexden  to withdraw his amendment.  Which he did!
Here follows some commentary on the speeches by some of the ‘peers’. (The Hansard report has highlighted  sentences where reference can be made.)
Lord Lipsey
One cannot pass over his comments about some expatriates seeking ‘cheap gin and tonics’  Such a remark demonstrates prejudice, and not intellectual  honesty.  Such remarks are used to conjure images in the mind of any listener against the expatriate.
His next point about those seeking redress for their frozen pensions  is  saying ‘we cannot have people being represented, because they may not agree with us’.  Lord Debden countered that attitude later on. (see page 9 of the Hansard Report)
Lord Lipsey then raised the views of Professor Blackburn –uttered in 1998 when the World was a very different place!
I wrote a riposte to Blackburn’s views in 2007 – view here  It was published in ‘French News’ at the time.   It emphasises the non-democratic status of the expatriate Briton in Europe. That very same issue is in sharp focus today.  If Britain pulls out of the Union through a vote based solely on the views of Britons resident in the UK with no cognisance of the effect on Britons in continental Europe, it will be a disaster. It will be a denial of  any democratic honesty  for the British nation.
Lastly Lord Lipsey says ‘you cannot have representation without taxation’ .  Does not that also mean the reverse would be true in his view?  Thousands of expatriates pay tax to the British Government, income tax, and tax on investments, as well as property taxes.
Lord Tyler,
Again note the introduction of the phrase ‘expats in the Costa del Sol'. Another comment introduced solely to give an antipathetic image in the minds of the listener. It is a rhetorical trick.   Lord Tyler continues with comments on Council Tax, VAT etc. It is all nonsense. Ludicrous.  It bears no scrutiny for it has no basis in reality. No expatriate vote would affect such local matters.
Lord Anderson and also Lord Lipsey make a point that few expatriates who could register to vote, actually do so.  The numbers who could in fact do so is not at all clear. Remember that after 15 years one has no chance.  That cut-off point is of itself a deterrent!  I will not re-register this May because my own 15 year limit ends in August.  There will be no election in which I could vote before that date.  Many others will not register for similar reasons.  Lords Lipsey and co have a point but do they bother to ask why this number is so small?
If  as they say  few expatriates want to vote why are they so afraid of granting the vote!  Are they afraid that giving a life-time vote will of itself so increase the desire that they lose power?  It really is nonsensical.
Baroness Hayter,
She displays very little understanding of the life of large numbers of expatriates.
A large number will return to the UK at some time. They all want to return to a Britain which is properly run.  The younger families after 15 or twenty years or more will return, needing good schools and hospitals, and all the other organisations of society.
Many send their children to schools in Britain. They nearly all have relatives in Britain for whom they care. The retired folk on the continent are very likely to return in their final years.  They also have younger relatives working in Britain.  Baroness Hayter is out of touch.
Her second argument is so bizarre it hardly bears repetition.  It is that expatriates given the vote may well give funds to political parties!  Therefore we cannot possibly give them the vote.  This is much the same argument put forward by Lord Lipsey – that is ‘We cannot possibly give the vote to those who might disagree with us!’  In this case ‘They might give funds to other parties!’

UPDATE (Jan 30th 2013)    Once again in the Lords (Report Stage) Lord Lexden introduced an amendment and again withdrew it with the agreement to chair an all-party committee on the issue. That is the situation at the end of January 2013.
It is important to influence the Politicians and support those who have the interest of the Briton Abroad at heart. Truly - Democracy is at stake here.
To locate their email addresses so that you can write to them  look at…….

Monday, January 7, 2013

Europe and the British Citizen

Sir Roger Gale MP (Cons North Thanet) writes in his January newsletter…..

….. Boris Johnson, suggests that David Cameron must hold an “In/Out” referendum and that it should be held before the next general election.  ………………………….   …………..  with polls suggesting that today more than 50% of the electorate would vote for the exit door it`s easy to see where the Mayor of London is coming from.  That Herman Van Rompuy believes that the “EU would fall apart if countries were allowed to pick and choose” which policies they would like to endorse indicates a triumph of bureaucracy over democracy.  The people? Choose? Perish the thought. “The single Market”, says Rumpy Pumpy “would unravel”.  Now there are those of us who were naive enough to believe that it was a single market and not a Federal United States of Europe, that we were joining all those years ago.  And yet curiously, it is the arch-federalist Jacques “Up Yours” Delors, three-times President of the European Commission, who comes out of the woodwork to suggest that the UK could enjoy a “partnership” in  a European Free-Trade Area without necessarily remaining a member of the EU.

Get out of Europe?
The Britons who live in Europe must seriously understand the pressure that is building to take Britain out of the Union.   At its extreme this could be a disaster.  At its best it means a re-appraisal of circumstances for all Britons in Europe.  As things stand none of these Britons have any political voice whatsoever in whatever decisions are made, yet these Britons are those most closely affected.  The situation is not democratic.
Consider the worst scenario – That is to say complete secession from the European Union.   Britons would then have much the same status as Americans in Europe.
Britons would no longer be European Citizens – the passports would all revert to Citizens of the British Isles (or England & Wales, Scotland, etc….)
Freedom to live and move at will in continental Europe, to freely own property, transfer funds without hindrance would cease [The four freedoms of Movement of Goods, Capital, Services and People].  Winter Fuel Payments would cease, perhaps difficulties with other benefits (?); automatic medical support would cease, The use of the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) would cease, which would affect all British Citizens holidaying in Europe.
This worst scenario is surely unlikely.  Yet is that what the anti-unionists are proposing? (that is --- Exit from the EU)
It is suggested by some that Britain could have a status similar to Switzerland or Norway (so called European Free Trade Association States).  These countries are not in the Union as such but the difference in actuality is really quite slight. 
Looking at EFTA Status for Britain?
The following is condensed from the WIKIPEDIA  reference on the EFTA nations
The EFTA nations (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and also Switzerland)  adhere to the same "four freedoms" as the EU -goods, persons, services, and capital, and in consequence these countries have accepted in this regard the Laws of the European Union. BUT they have little influence on the decision-making processes in Brussels, because they are not members of the EU, though members of the EEA (European Economic Area)
The EFTA countries do not bear the financial burdens of EU membership, although they contribute financially to the European single market.
After the EU/EEA enlargement of 2004, there was a tenfold increase in the financial contribution of the EEA States, in particular Norway, to social and economic cohesion in the Internal Market (€1167 million over five years).
EFTA countries do not receive any funding from EU policies and development funds.
Could Britain be like Switzerland or Norway?
The outer ring of EFTA members within the umbrella of the European Economic Area still come under EU directives without being fully involved in their construction.  What then is the advantage of not being full members?  That is difficult to understand – perhaps it is just an emotional idea.  It is surely odd to be subject to the EU regulations and not be able to participate in their formulation? These countries, much smaller than the UK, have essentially accepted a less democratic association with the EU just to remain part of the single market. This weakening of the influence of the UK in a similar association with the EU would certainly suit Jacques Delors, not known in the past for his support of Britain.
What do those people in Britain who wish to see Britain ‘out of the EU’ actually seek?  There is no clear vision from them but only negative criticism.
If they want to see the country leave fully and completely then truly it could well be a monumental shock which all British Citizens on the continent would regret. It is unrealistic to expect a smooth withdrawal from the EU (with a bonfire of all agreements), and a belief that this would result in a flourishing British economy.
To quote from a blog on the site of the influential organisation ‘TheCityUK’ –representing finance firms. “The UK’s financial and professional services sector benefits greatly not only from access to the Single Market within the EU but also from the global opportunities that the EU, negotiating globally from a position of market strength, can bring.” The Chairman of ‘TheCityUK’ says – ‘We have not made the case strongly enough how important it is that the UK remains the EU's financial centre.’
If Britain seceded from the Union, then International Banks would probably move their operations to Europe. The British GDP could lose 25 billion in trade.
Should it not be the role of Britain to play a full part in the development of Europe? With the European Commission’s trade directorate at this time proposing comprehensive trade negotiations with the US and Japan, shouldn’t the UK be involved in such talks between equivalent economic weight trading areas, as part of the EU?
Britain should take a lead in helping to correct the failings of Europe and willingly and wholeheartedly bring to the European nations the expertise and leadership for which Britain ought to be famed.   The Nations of Europe deplore the weakness of Britain in Europe. Britain should get ‘stuck in’ and take a lead. No longer should it pussyfoot in the wings.
Should not the British Citizens who live on the Continent and are profoundly affected be consulted?  Why does the British Government not consider them?  Are more than a million British Citizens to be ignored?
Should not British Citizens in Europe shake off their British apathy and take action?
We should demand that our voices are heard.
Take Action.
Select politicians (MPs & Lords) of your choosing  from the address list.  One of our correspondents has written to 22 MPs.  Our future depends on this kind of action.
Affix this whole message and send.
“Please consider the needs of the one million British Citizens in Europe.  We need to remain part of the European Union.  Furthermore we need a democratic voice through a democratic principle to vote for an elected representative, so that our voice is always to be heard when the British Government makes decisions which affect us.”