A View on Votes for Life and Overseas Representation

“Votes for Life” were promised twice in manifestos by the Conservative Party and yet still here we are, many of us, still screaming out but voiceless.

Let’s trust the promise of “introducing” it before 2022 means quick implementation rather than the mere token initiation of a tedious drawn-out process. Still, it is promised at last.

Nevertheless, there still seems to me there is a glaring error with the proposed form.

The Government does not support the creation of parliamentary constituencies for overseas electors, stating it is the “right principle that overseas electors continue to have some form of connection to the area of the country where they were last resident.”

What an anachronism! Yes, the majority of us maintain ties with the UK. But with our former constituency in the area we last happened to live in?

We are no longer living in the last century! There may well be many amongst us who do have their heart and interests fixed firmly in their last UK constituency, but these days, it is more usual for people to move several times in their lives. Strong ties may well be anywhere other than the constituency they last lived in in the UK.

If, by example, your electoral area changed from Yorkshire to Devon, you gained representation in Devon. Now you have dared to cross a national border to your new home, you remain represented by an MP whose main point of focus is Yorkshire – where’s the sense in that?

When I return to the UK, I spend most time in Essex or Kent with family. I am fully engaged with UK politics and its effects on myself and my family. Yet my MP hails from a constituency in Derbyshire – the place I just happened to land up in through work commitments.

The Government’s lack of logic is a nonsense. Why should I be treated any differently if I choose to move to France than if I had chosen to move to another British area? Am I not as equally entitled as any other UK elector to representation by an MP who is relevant? Overseas constituencies must be established.

This is especially vital now that more Brits are choosing to live or work overseas.  MoveHub reported in 2017 that there had been an upsurge in moving enquiries made by 18 to 35-year-old young professionals of around 60%, adding: “The will to live abroad and experience different cultures is ever growing among young people”. The UK needs to keep the younger generations actively engaged and this will not be by acting so parochially.

Four European countries already have representation for external voters in place – Croatia, France, Italy and Portugal – as well as many other non-European countries.

Is it not time the UK Government grasped the nettle of creating Overseas Constituencies as well? And what better time than now, whilst they are reforming the Votes for Life rule?

Christina Hendy-Jones, LibDems in France Data Officer

(Both Votes for Life and Overseas Constituencies are part of  2018 LibDems in France campaigns – www.libdemsinfrance.org)  

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This entry was posted in LibDems Call for Expat Vote, Nick Clegg Defends Voting, Overseas Electors Bill, Separate Constituencies for Overseas Voters?, Votes for Life & Overseas Constituencies. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A View on Votes for Life and Overseas Representation

  1. nickiwi says:

    And what about U.K. citizens who were born abroad and never had any ties to any U.K. constituency?

  2. Michael Strawson says:

    Since there are 4 constituent parts at present there cannot sensibly be a specific MP for overseas – even though ironic Gibraltar does have a sitting MP. elc

  3. Elspeth Chabbi says:

    The French system seems ideal. 11 MPs dedicated to constituencies which cover the area in which the expat actually lives, ie South America, Australasia etc.

  4. Dom says:

    Fully agree. The UK view is stuck in the 60’s, thinking that Brits living abroad are mainly ex-pats who decided to retire to a warmer climate. In my case I managed to escape at 19 from a post industrial northern wasteland by joining the military, spent 10 years soldiering in mainly foreign countries, where I never remember being able to vote. I Left the military and lived exclusively in European countries ever since. By the time I released I could vote, I was already not allowed to vote due to the 15 year rule. Consequently now aged 55, I have never voted nor had the opportunity to vote. I have absolutely no interest or connection to the constituency area where I originally came from and certainly they would have no idea of the particular issues affecting Brits living abroad. My kids are all British citizens born abroad, also barred from voting and have no links to any UK constituency.

    It has not been thought through. Certainly we need dedicated overseas constituencies and MPs to represent the particular issues of Brits living abroad, not linked to some historic constituency that neither has any connection or us or can effectively represent us.

  5. And another glaring anomaly – this is NOT “votes for life” as it demands a contact with a constituency in which one last lived. What about the millions of British citizens who moved abroad before they were of voting age, or who were born abroad, always lived abroad and who would remain un-enfranchised under the Government’s proposals?
    Once again, this is NOT “votes for life”.

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