It scares me witless, but today I agreed with something said by Migrationwatch – which is their latest campaign is to stop commonwealth citizens from being able to vote in British elections.
This is something that I’ve felt was unfair for quite some time. It stems largely from realising that my New Zealand housemate at university could vote as soon as he had arrived in the UK to study, whereas my Dad (who is Swedish but has lived here now for 28 years) is not able to vote except in local and European elections.
I fully accept the argument that people should only be able to vote in this country if they have British citizenship, and in that case my Dad would rightly be excluded. But if that is to be the case the rule should be applied consistently to all foreign nationals. There is a logic to European Union citizens being able to vote in European elections in this country, but perhaps they also shouldn’t be able to vote in locals.
However despite the situation with commonwealth citizens, the worst is that relating to the Irish. Irish can vote in all elections in this country, including general elections, which is completely inconsistent. As an independent country that is in the European Union, they should be treated like other European citizens and just be able to vote in local and European elections.
To me, the solution to this inconsistency is to separate your nationality from your citizenship. Nationality is something a lot more emotional and in your soul, your background and your upbringing. Citizenship though is a lot more about your rights and your obligations. These could be the same, or they could be different. You could also feel that your nationality is a mixture of two countries – I feel strongly about being both British and Swedish.
Your vote however should be determined by your citizenship which would be the country where you reside full-time or the most, and only come in to effect when you have lived somewhere for a certain length of time.