Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Written Evidence to the Committee for Political and Constitutional Reform
Here I will address the question
Why do so few British Citizens Abroad register to Vote?
1. A blunt answer is because they cannot see any point in so doing.
So --- “Why do they not see any point in so doing?”
Answer because they feel that very few politicians take any interest in them.
2. Why do so few politicians take little interest in the Citizen Abroad?
Answer - The MPs are based in UK Constituencies and that is their prime concern. They cannot see why anyone living abroad would have much interest or connection with that constituency. And they are right generally to take that point of view.
3. The Citizens Abroad have various reasons for being concerned with British lawmakers, or British politics as it affects them and the British actions and influence in the World. In short the actions of the GOVERNMENT but not politics at the local level.
Those with whom I communicate, those over retirement age, receive often ALL their income from Britain, many are taxed by Britain, all have exceedingly strong family and cultural ties to Britain. Most are PROUD of being British .
They have needs and concerns which spring from the very position of being British in another country. In the EU especially they see themselves as NOT living in a foreign land but in a extension of Britain into Europe. There is in the EU a kind of nexus of nations, each with ties to another place though rooted in a land which is not that of their birth. This ‘freedom of movement’ feeling is not understood, it would seem, by the politicians in Whitehall. We see ourselves as Ambassadors of British Culture though this appears to be a fact unappreciated by the British politicians.
4. Thus there is a great sense of detachment from British Politics because the British Politicians ignores us, is frightened of us as a potential threat to their constituency, does not and cannot understand our feelings. The Citizen Abroad feels that there is no point in voting for an MP who has no demonstrable interest in his situation. We feel that we are perceived by various politicians and the media as deserters leaving the land of our birth.
5. The very existence of the 15 year limit on voting is a HUGE deterrent in itself to registering. If you know that the vote is going to be taken away after 15 years, then why bother to register before? One feels the politicians don’t really want you anyway.
6. One would like to see the possibility of a dialogue with an MP to whom one can relate.
There ought to be channels of communication on matters of international treaties. In the EU matters of social co-ordination are most important, yet we get the impression that the elderly Citizens Abroad are considered a nuisance, a drain on the British economy. When treaties are considered, what British civil servant or politician has the knowledge to speak up for the impact on the British Citizen resident in the other country? There appears to be no-one who can speak for us.
7. The system whereby Citizens Abroad can only relate to the MP of their last constituency in the UK, results in a diluted conveyance of their thoughts and concerns so that nothing is concentrated in one representation.
1. Remove the 15 year limit. That will inspire some confidence!
Then at some little time later – hopefully not too long -
2. Establish MPs for the Citizen Abroad in a manner similar to France.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
A correspondent has kindly copied the following items from December 2014's French English language newspaper "The Connexion".
They are very important. Please circulate onwards.