The day I agreed with Migrationwatch

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.

YORKSHIRE POST: Non-British citizens ‘should be denied vote’

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12 comments

  1. Why should you be surprised at agreeing with something on MigrationWatch? They merely publish statistics on immigration which can be independently verified from public sources. Perhaps you mean you don’t *want* to agree with anything in case it contradicts your preconceptions on the subject?
    I agree with you, though, that only UK citizens should be able to vote in UK elections – though I should point out that Commonwealth citizens are also automatically eligible to serve in the UK armed forces, so maybe in that case they should have a vote here?

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  2. Ireland is not a foreign country, or so Parliament has decreed, see section 2 of the Ireland Act 1949!

    The important thing is that any extension of voting rights beyond citizenship should be reciprocal. This is certainly the case with EU citizens, where the right to vote in local and European elections if resident in another member state is part of our rights as an EU citizen.

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  3. Its a mess – I personally think if you’re paying taxes (and have been for a reasonable amount of time) in a country you should have a right to vote for the body setting those taxes. That however could create constitutional problems.
    At the very least consistency is needed.

    As for agreeing with Migration Watch – that is a bit galling… they don’t simply present statistics, they present selective statistics and interpretations of statistics which support their xenophobic stance (I havn’t heard them trumpeting the recent polling that Muslims in the UK are integrating better than anyone thought and even trust the police more than ‘native’ Britons)

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  4. UK citizens have been able to vote in Irish elections since 1984 when the 9’th Amendment to the Irish Constitution was passed. Before then an estimated 50,000 UK citizens were on the electoral roll in ROI constituencies, informally reciprocating the rights that ROI citizen had in the UK since 1949.

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  5. I agree 100% with the writer, I was shock to find out that Commonwealth citizens are allowed to vote in Britain even if they are not British citizens. The only people that should be allowed to vote is the British people that pay their tax! Nobody else, no Irish, no Commonwealth and no European Union nationals either. Just by being born in Polond shouldn’t give you a right to vote in Britain nor the Commonwealth unless you reside here and become a British citizen. Common sense should prevail, no more Political correctness otherwise the Uk will be swamped.

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  6. “Just by being born in Polond shouldn’t give you a right to vote in Britain nor the Commonwealth unless you reside here and become a British citizen”

    Why should someone have to give up their nationality of birth just so they can have equal rights in the UK? I think it is only fair that you acquire the same rights as everyone else once you have resided in this country for so long. Equally, British nationals who have lived abroad for a considerable length of time should lose their right to vote here but gain it in the country they have moved to.

    To make this work effectively you probably need some sort of international agreement, or some people would in effect end up stateless. But I suspect that is not going to be an easy thing to agree.

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