Reconnecting with British Overseas Voters on www.votes-for-expat-brits.com
Vote on-line in Support of Votes for All Expat Brits.
Perhaps surprisingly for today’s generation, the then Mrs Thatcher, a grocer’s daughter, even when Prime Minister famously knew the price of everyday goods in the shops e.g. the price of a pint of milk for the ordinary consumer. This was mentioned by Michael Portillo as an example of one politician who connected (whether positively or negatively) with the voters, at the end of a discussion on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme of 31st March, together with Jack Straw, as to why politicians are seemingly failing to connect with ordinary people and the issues that are important to them. It was suggested that contributing to this is a public perception of, and disengagement with, the elitist background in the current government Cabinet which makes a mockery of the slogan “We are all in this together”, as well as what is perceived as an equally well-educated but out of touch Opposition with its leadership roots in the London Intelligentsia.
This follows a turbulent week in British politics which included the shock of maverick George Galloway winning the Bradford West by-election, together with the Government’s communications problems with the British public and the media over e.g. the union-threatened fuel crisis, increased VAT on pasties, the over-influence of major political donors and, not least, the media-termed “Granny Tax” disclosed by the Chancellor in his recent budget statement.
The latter “Granny Tax” , code name for a perceived stealth tax on pensioners, has been made great play of in the media but behind it lies the rather sensitive issue of those British pensioners who are indeed facing great financial hardship. These British pensioners do not all reside in the UK as a significant number also live overseas e.g. in France but remain linked to their homeland by the umbilical cord of their state pensions (whether frozen or not) and at the mercy of the rate of exchange of Sterling in the international money markets. However, unlike their fellow pensioners in the UK they are further disconnected from the political process by not even having the right to vote in British national elections, if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years.
The unfairness of this 15-year-rule which disconnects such British overseas voters in general from the UK political process , has been questioned most recently and visibly by Lord Lexden, speaking in the Lords debate on Individual Electoral Registration. There is also feisty British pensioner and WWII veteran Harry Shindler, a long time resident in Italy still challenging the British government for his right to vote in his country of birth and for which he fought when young, by taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Supporting these initiatives is the website www.votes-for-expat-brits.com which is encouraging all British overseas voters to re-connect with the political process in the UK and to vote on-line in a poll for the right to vote for all British expatriates however long overseas.