Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Messages to Citizens Abroad on the May election from the United Kingdom Political Parties.

Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, The Green Party and the UK Independence Party (UKIP)

Over the month of February (2015) all five Nation-wide Parties have been requested to State their policy towards Expatriates.
This request has been made four times by the Campaign for Votes for Expatriates and several times (by phone and email) by the journal The Connexion.
The third time of asking was elaborated and is HERE attached to this mailing - It states reasons why Citizens Abroad should have political representation. 
The fourth time of asking was more abrupt.
The Conservative Party replied at the first request to both The Campaign and The Connexion. Three others replied later to The Campaign. The messages are given below in order of their reception.
The Liberal-Democratic Party has not replied.
All the four who replied were sent a draft of this mail so that, if they wished, they could modify their message
Email addresses of the authors of the replies are given below to three of the messages. You may wish to comment or question further. If so, you can respond to them.
The sender of this mail is only relaying these messages and offers no opinion on their content.
    Please recirculate to your own groups and of course friends and relatives in the UK.
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Messages from the Parties


CONSERVATIVES
The Conservative Party is making a manifesto commitment to protect the civic rights of British citizens living overseas. Millions of British Citizens live and work across the globe. Many have worked hard and contributed to Britain all their lives, continue to pay tax in the UK and have close family living in Britain.
Like many other countries, the UK continues to protect British citizens living abroad with its military, Embassy network, and passport and other services. However, Britain currently restricts the rights of these citizens to vote in General Elections. The last Labour Government reduced the amount of time that British citizens living overseas were entitled to register to vote in UK General Elections to just 15 years. This is just one of many mistakes that they made.   
If the Conservative Party wins the next General Election, we will remove this cap and extend it to a full right as a British Citizen to vote in British elections for life.
Authorship email Mitchell Cohen ----   Mitchell.Cohen@conservatives.com

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
We believe passionately everyone should exercise their democratic right to vote, including expats who still cherish their fundamental ties with Britain.
Issues that UKIP passionately champions are equally relevant overseas. None more so than the EU. Some 70% of UK law, and no doubt the proportion of legislation made in other EU countries where expats may live, is now made by Brussels, by unelected bureaucrats. Our democracy and that of the 27 other member states, has been seriously compromised by EU membership and by a power hungry elite who are more interested in expansionism than serving the people. The economies of many Eurozone countries are in a catastrophic mess, with rising unemployment, plummeting house prices and increasing discontent among a disenfranchised public.
People often raise the argument that if the UK pulled out of the EU, many expats living abroad would be forced to return or would be cut off, without support. How ridiculous! British expats by and large take business abroad, they move abroad with money, or they retire somewhere with better weather. They are rarely competing with the country's young people for work, or emigrate for more favourable welfare benefits. Equally a vast number of expats are in Australia, which has never been part of the EU.
UKIP actually wants a new, changed and better Britain, which is forward looking and global in attitude. Not shackled to an outdated and failing economic and political project from the 1950s that has done more to damage the economy, our democracy and the global reach of the country. Any Brit, wherever they live, that believes in Britain, should back UKIP as the real party for the future.
Authorship email  Alexandra Phillips ----- a.phillips@ukip.org

The GREEN PARTY
“We are actively considering a commitment that all pensioners living abroad receive the same pension and annual pension increase as those living in the UK.”



“We will release further details in our General Election manifesto”.
Authorship:-  the Green party representative  declined to accept mails on this issue.



THE LABOUR PARTY

As you know, British expats who have been resident and registered to vote in the fifteen years prior to an election are eligible to vote in elections for the UK Parliament and the European Parliament as long as they are registered as an overseas voter.

We appreciate that there have been calls for this 15-year rule to be relaxed or abolished in Britain and that this is supported by some expats who are currently unable to vote in UK elections or are at risk of losing their right to vote in upcoming elections. We also recognise that a number of other countries do allow permanent voting rights for expats.

The voting rights of British citizens is, of course, an extremely important issue and we agree this should be looked at carefully. As you say in your letter, a Ten Minute Rule Bill - the UK Overseas Voters (15 Year Rule) Bill - has been introduced to Parliament and proposes to legislate for permanent voting rights for British expats. The Bill is now scheduled to receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 6th March.

Labour hopes this Bill will provide an opportunity for the House of Commons to debate this issue and consider the merits and demerits of the current 15-year rule.

We also believe we need to do more to encourage all citizens - expats and those registered in the UK - to register to vote. It is welcome that the Electoral Commission has set a target of getting 100,000 more overseas voters registered before the next General Election. The introduction of online registration also means it is now easier than ever for Brits abroad to register to vote. It remains important, though, that the Government continue to look into other ways of engaging British citizens abroad to register and participate in elections.

Authorship email  A Williams office of Ed Miliband, ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk

 The LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY
No reply has been received from the Liberal-Democrats. 

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Postscripts.
1,  On the 6th March (2015) Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP is launching in Parliament the second reading of his 10 minute Bill to remove the 15 year limit on Voting by Overseas Citizens. (Overseas Voters 15 year rule Bill) to view go here ---    http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Live.aspx
2. To Register to vote go here     https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Brian Cave