Yesterday I introduced a short topic which fell on stony ground - I should have expanded. Here I do just that.
European Democracy and the British Citizen.
In 1960 I travelled across Germany to Warsaw. Germany was split in two. My memories go back to 1936 and I know exactly where I was and why I was there on the first day of World War II. A curious evacuee in the dungeons of Deal Castle.
These experiences and more, including fifteen years residency in France, endear me to a united Europe. The European Union is an institution of hope. But still after fifty years from its conception it is still uncertainly stuck together. The glue which binds the nations of Europe has an uncertain strength and we who live in this uncertain melange of Nations, which could easily melt apart again need to demonstrate how we can strengthen the glue. The glue is DEMOCRACY.
Among the leading Nations within Europe, the Nation which is most deficient in the provision of its democratic glue is the United Kingdom.
All the Britons in France at some time or another will have fears and needs concerning their position as Britons. If Britain pulls out of the European Union then they will no longer be Citizens of Europe, and the consequences could be severe. The Britons in Europe have no official means whatsoever of transmitting their views to the Government in Westminster neither for their status as Britons in Europe, nor their cares for their families still residing in the UK, nor for their own futures were they be minded to eventually return to Britain, nor for their feelings towards the behaviour of the British Government on the World Stage.
For all these reasons the Britons in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Holland …..and everywhere …must have a voice in Britain. In Europe, this glue of Democracy is the glue to bind the nations.
Just as the democratic glue of the peoples who are French, Germans, Italians, .. and on and on .. throughout Europe – including those in Britain- representing their nations is that same glue binding us as Europeans. The British glue does not exist. British democratic glue needs indeed to spread across the World. But there are those who oppose this spread. Noticeably within the British Parliament itself.
We must be careful with our language. We must distinguish between ‘country’ and ‘nation’. The ‘country’ is where you live. The ‘nation’ is that ‘soil’ wherein the roots of your culture are set.
In recent months there have been debates in the British Parliament, especially in the House of Lords on the ‘Representation of the British Citizens Abroad’. Alistair, Lord Lexden has been empowered to set up an all-party committee to examine this matter.
A group called ‘The British Community’ in Paris has been promoting a similar concept.
The latter has a web-site www.votes-for-expat-brits.com
This latter site enables anyone to put comments.
Lord Lexden’s committee needs the support of Britons everywhere. The forces against democracy for Britons Abroad are strong. Some citizens abroad make shallow remarks in forums and devalue the concept. Within Parliament Nick Clegg considers that British democracy for Citizens Abroad is ‘not appropriate’ and implies that Britons should take out the nationality of their country of residence. This inane idea makes a travesty of the concept of the fluidity of peoples across Europe. And there are many other politicians in parliament do not want to listen to the Citizen Abroad.
The power of Democracy to stick lies in the hands of the Citizen. If they do not desire it nor use it– although they need it! – it will fail and Britain in Europe will fail. In Europe the failure to implement Democracy could well lead to a break up of this fledgling unique concept.
We all should demand ‘Representation’. Demand the power to spread the ‘democratic glue of Europe’.
You can add your little influence on the parliamentary committee and give yourself a feeling of having done something good by adding your name in support of the following petition