The negative reactions on this Survive France Network link, give a good indication of the resistance of some British expatriates at least in France to registering to vote in UK national elections , even though it is now possible to conveniently register on-line and there is a general election in May, 2015.
This rejection of the future of the UK, its political system, parties and politicians in general also deprives them of their democratic right to vote as British citizens, if not already removed under current legislation after 15 years or more abroad.
Yet the major issues emerging in the build-up to the 2015 general election are the Economy, the National Health Service (NHS) and (uncontrolled) Immigration, the latter linked to Britain’s continuing membership or not of the European Union.
British expatriates should also be concerned by these issues and specifically on:
- Restoring the British Economy: What about proposed cuts in expatriate personal tax allowances on UK income as well as Welfare? Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA) for those British pensioners living in France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Gibraltar (94,945 in total) will be axed from 2015-2016, subject to the approval of MPs but saving an estimated £100 million for the Department of Work & Pensions over the next 5 years. Many more expatriates with UK taxable income would be impacted by cuts in their personal allowances.
- Saving the National Health Service: Are you concerned about possible reductions in British expatriate health benefits and associated with additional government cost cutting, or indeed a British exit from the EU?
- Britain’s continuing EU Membership: Are you worried about the impact on your future residency and benefit rights as a British expatriate in Europe, of a possible In/Out Referendum in 2017?
Concerning the WFA in particular, all British governments have been careful with how they treat the so-called “grey vote” generation which traditionally has the highest turnout rate at elections. However, this doesn’t apply if you as an expatriate pensioner can’t vote anyway, either because of the 15-year-limit or because you haven’t yet registered?
If only half of the 94,945 pensioners facing the loss of their WFA registered to vote, it could still provide a significant boost to the current level of only some 20,000 – 30,000 overseas voters worldwide on the electoral roll. The target is to reach a politically significant level of 70,000 – 100,000 or more registered overseas voters, thereby exceeding an equivalent average constituency size or more.