A sense of injustice can raise the temperature in the British expatriate community in France as “Readers reply on winter fuel row” in The Connexion, France’s English-Language Newspaper!
In determining that British expatriate pensioners resident within averagely “warmer” (than the UK) countries of the EU should share in the current pain of austerity Britain, by depriving them of their annual Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA), the government is choosing to treat a certain section of the “grey vote” differently.
The “grey vote” is usually treated more seriously by the political parties since older citizens tend to turn out to vote significantly more often than their younger counterparts. With the next general election now not so far away in May 2015, it would seem then that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is acting against the interests of his own party in this case or, to be perhaps more generous, putting the interests of the country before that of his own party. The latter conclusion is supported by some talk of possible means-testing of “wealthier” British pensioners in the UK on their current WFA entitlement, although again the power of the resident “grey vote” in the polls would tend to argue against this.
However, with a maximum of only some 30,000 British expatriates who have ever registered to vote in UK elections since being granted the right to vote in the mid 1980s, their effective “power” in the polls can safely be ignored it seems eg even when resorting to the questionable artifice of an average winter temperature calculation it would appear!
The democratic power of the expatriate voice needs to be enhanced, therefore, by many more expatriates registering as overseas voters – indeed more in the 100,000s than the 10,000s – via the Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk for example.
In addition, the contradition of the 15-year-limit is clear. How can expatriate British pensioners, already experiencing austerity within the EU, be considered so “detached” from the UK after 15 years abroad that they lose their voting rights, and at the same time be expected to “share” in the current austerity of the UK?
If you agree, we would appreciate you adding your vote here in support of our campaign to remove this 15-year-limit on our voting rights as British citizens resident abroad.