M.P.'s for Ex-Pats? Discussion on the Today Programme

Dear Lord Lipsey of Tooting Bec "for 't'was thus",
As a former long term resident of Tooting Bec, ex vice chair of a North Battersea as it was then local political party, recipient of a Wandsworth Council Civic award for Services to the Community, but expat currently living in France I was interested, but appalled, to hear your views over the radio over the Christmas period. Apparently you hold yourself out to be a consitutional expert, albeit you were a journalist which calls into question any qualification or indeed credibility as an "expert".
That the UK government should call upon us to encourage visits to the UK at the same time that we are being denied fundamental rights on suffrance verges at the least on the comical.
Parliamentary elections may well arrive sooner rather than may be the latest than is necessary in the UK. I call upon all UK politicians to recognise the rights of British citizens to vote in British parlaimentary elections, even if as you they are unelected.
Whilst I admit to political affiliations other than yours I am sending this to you in view the expressions you made over the ether. I am also copying to Cameron's consituency secretary as I and many others remain unconvinced as to the ethics of ANY UK parliamentarian. To put that statement into context I was an investor in Equitable Life and like many I remain "scarred" by that experience. It's remarkable how the politicians are rushing to save the "fallout" of the inadequacies of the PIP mammary scandal much quicker than Equitable one! There must be a punchline there! Something about PIPs being squeezed perhaps?
I remain as ever my Lord your most humble servant,
David Rosemont

The irony is, of course, being married to a Swiss social scientist who has a shrewd 'nose', the truth is that all is not as rosy as these 'neutralists' tell us and Norway, the usual other one, is in deep trouble once oil and gas are finished in a dozen or so years. It is, I believe, nationalism of the most insidious kind propagated by people who have something to hide, as do many very rich Swiss equivalents. If they did their homework on the 20th century then my wife (and childrens'0 country would not come out so rosey. But, I think we agree. As for Euroscepticism itself, I have healthy sceptical view of their little islander nonsense. The 19th century is gone folk, but they do not seem to have noticed!

Coincidentally I'd asked the same question as suggested in the Guardian article (i.e. Given its history, did these Eurosceptics then seriously see the UK as some sort of larger, neutral Switzerland that the major powers would leave alone to get along with its own business in the future?) with a friend of mine in the UK who'd been feeding me a few too many anti-EU articles.

I support your argument, therefore, but hope you are not right about the influence of these Eurosceptics putting the UK on the wrong track!

No, but the point is that people in the UK are thinking that way and that is where policy makers draw their 'inspiration' from. This is, as you rightly say, a riposte but is something I have heard repeatedly from people who want out of the EU and are looking for where the UK will be. If that is a growing feeling, as we are lead to believe, and there are some strong views in that direction emrging on other threads on SFN, that is what we are up against. I think we are for the most part pro-European, so please do not take it the other way.

This article is just a Guardian riposte to Tory Euro-sceptics and is not the issue being debated in this thread I think (not being a Eurosceptic either!).

For those whose orientation is more toward England than 'Europe' on this thread, take a look at:Why can't we be more like Switzerland? www.guardian.co.uk

To use Write to Them you use the postcode of your last address in the UK.

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Please go to Votes-for-Expat-Brits and sign othe on-line petition.

Both the french and germans have representatives in their government who have specific responsibilities for their ex-pat communities and we just want the same.

Happy New Year.

Lord Lipsey email address lipseyd@parliament.uk

Best wishes

I looked at the Write to Them and you need a postcode, obviously I don't have a postcode in the UK. Both my husband and I are eligible for tax in the UK. How can someone like Lord Lipsey turn up to discuss something so emotive without having the true facts? Just because we live outside of the UK doesn't mean our ties have been completely broken; ie we still pay tax due to various reasons (for us it is being ex public servants.)

For some strange reason the Government, which ever lot are in power, think we throw off our ties when we leave UK shores. A a disabled person this is very true, just because I drove into the tunnel to start a new life I didn't leave my disability behind! They have effectively washed their hands of me and my husband as they do other people in our position. So why not everyone who has decided to leave the UK for a life abroad? People leave for many reasons as do those who choose to move TO the UK.

We have no property in the UK but we have family, friends and due to the laws imposed by the Government of the time duty to pay tax; this alone keeps our ties very strong and when asked my nationality it is English however at home I am here.

From one Brian to another, I guess we agree on the UK issue and who is the fly in the ointment. We also have an easily manipulated (by owners who share the world of the richest elite) press that delivers us 'facts' that are often indisputable, except that they are actually minor footnotes to other more important issues that they feed on to misinform their readers.

I have worked with politicans across parties for many years (I'll send you photographs if you think I am bulls***ting) and know there are good and bad in parliament in the UK and elsewhere. The problem is that good (UK) MPs do not always share one's point of view and vice versa (or at least give that impression). To be frank, having dealt with people to ministerial level in a few other countries I can save, for example, that the ones I have 'worked with' in Viet Nam have more integrity. Without agreeing with their political system, the people in office often believe in what they are doing, will listen, share and act. I find that somewhere in the middle we have German Abgeordneten who are far more representative of their electorate than the British ones at present. I do not want to be aprt of that politic and there are enough others like me. We have left that behind, we do not want to stick a toe back in with such an action. We want representation here, some will become French others will not and that choice should remain open too. I agree most profoundly on the possibility of 'us' being left behind because of lack of interest by those residing in the UK. For that reason I am happy to turn my back on them and let the inevitable run its course.

I do not experience hassle in the 27 countries, I experience 27 different kinds of bureaucracy, but perhaps I am inured to that with my work. There a common ground needs to be found. It requires Europe to be closer and opener in every sense and I am willing to work toward that by starting with the country I live in, not the group of nations I originate from which is itself becoming disparate anyway.

I also wish people would stop repeating recent history and animosity between the years of roughly 1912 and 1945 during which about 10 years of war took place. Until early 1915 (despite war for some months) there was no ill feeling between the peoples of the UK and Germany to speak of and right up until 1939 many senior figures, especially in the Lords and the old aristocrcay, would have aligned with them. They are the traditional friend. France and England have been at loggerheads since January 1066 when Harold Godwinson was throned, albeit we say Normandy and France per se did not exist (nor England as we know it, let alone the UK). I must confess the 'auld alliance' has its attractions and distractions for people of my origin. However, the point must be that if we are to grow up and get over it all then the only thing I profoundly agreed with my father ever said goes. He was part of the Mulberry Harbour advance landing party, one of the Royal Engineers in Japan early after the surrender and then served in Cologne as a sapper recovering ordinance until early 1956. He said that war and hatred between nations is no sense whatsover and should be expunged from our collective memory. If the so-called British could achieve that and drop the Merkel-mania then we can contribute to making Europe work and not undermine it as a force for peace and prosperity. I wish my nation independence, real independence, Wales perhaps if they can make it work, and for England to eat humble pie and see what might have been if they had half the sense. For my part, I shall live here and I shall attempt to contribute to all who are not French, even beyond EU citizens, and live here legitimately and permanently gain what should be their right and if I have enough years and energy contribute to that extending to the entire EU and beyond.

As I said to Jane, it is not personal but what I believe and would wish to see. We thus need both campaigns/actions in order to see what can be achieved and whilst debate and critique should always be legitimate tools, in essence they should be mutually supporting in principle without intervening in each other's methods of achieving their goals.

Best of luck with it in 2012 anyway!!

I join with Jane's answer ('common sense at last' ) and agree with the other Brian that it would be ideal to live freely anywhere, within the customs of the country where one lives. In Europe this might one day be possible and it is the ideal notion engrained in the establishment of the European Union. Not a super state but an association of Nations. A nation is its people not a geographical area. Scots, Irish, Welsh, English, (British if you like). Italians ..... the cultural bonds.

But it is Britain (those who govern Britain - not just politicians but also the civil service!) who have been making difficulties and are obstructive. Nothing ever will much change unless we can change their mind-set. Fundamentally, that is why I want my voice heard in the seat of power in Westminster. (i.e. representation) As things are our voices are not heard and those who reside in Britain could well sell us short in the coming year or years. They appear to be not interested in us. Those who want freedom to live anywhere in Europe without hassle (and by God I share that view passionately) have to bellow like hell to those who would wish to restrict our freedom to live our lives in Europe - ALL 27 countries - without unfair interference but with justice. We can argue amongst ourselves till the cows come home, but our voice has to have an effect where it will be heard! In Westminster, In Brussels/Strasbourg, In Paris, In Madrid, In Berlin.........

Just to complete my series of comments on this item may I mention the reminiscence that on September 3rd 1939 at 11.00 a.m. I was in a 'crocodile' of children on the stony beach of Deal in Kent looking across the sea to the distant edge of France. The sirens blew and we were at war with Germany. A engraved moment in my consciousness, though at the time I little understood the significance.

A Happy and forward looking New Year to everyone.

To you too Jane, it is not personal just what I believe and will stand for.

Common sense at last!

Happy New Year.

David, I know that in many ways you are right. The EU is likely to survive then change, for the better one might hope. For those of us who believe in the principles of universal suffrage and of a properly unified Europe (but never a USE) we should be hacking against the thorns now. I do want my cake and be able to eat it too and who does not in all honesty? To be English and live in exile is a Somerset Maughan shadow hanging over us from the past and we have all to grow out of it. I am only three years younger than you and still see this as a brave and young experiment that needs to be tested and prove itself. I am a European and a Scot but never an expat, exile or whatever. I am where I want to be and this is where I live that life and feel I can contribute. To that extent I want to be included in the democratic process here even if the outcome also leaves a lot to be desired. Apart from that, politically the UK is more obscene than it has ever been in my political memory which is over 50 years already coming from a politically active family. What Cameron and Osborne are doing is an aberation, a travesty and has nothing whatsoever to do with representation and governance for the people at all. It is for what the protesters are calling the 1%, which is probably wrong as a number but I know precisely what they mean and agree. For what it matters, France is at least marginally better but without some of the destruction of the public sector playing into the hands of the super wealthy hegemony. I am not tempted to become French but I shall live here and contribute to the place I live in and wish to have my little political contribution granted me, that cross every few years that as a percentage of votes cast will mean almost nothing but will give a veneer of participation I can live with.

I am very sympathetic to Brian Milne's POV but alas in politics as in many areas one has to be realistic, especially at a time when the economic crisis determines severe economic restraint in Europe generally. Given the recent result in Brussels one is forced to the conclusion that an extended suffrage for UK expats in French elections is extremely unlikely. Most French that I know are far more against immigration than a similar cross section in the UK. The UK governmment effectively ruled out any further "integration" in the European ideal (whatever that is) so it's not really on to expect that any of us Brit expats ever get more than local or european votes whilst French residents and we may even lose those rights in the coming period. Whatever the ideals then one is on the back foot in seeking to extend the suffrage period for UK votes beyond 15 years. It's a long shot indeed but it seems to be the only shot. As a 66 year old I have about nine years left to vote in parliamentary elections in the UK, being equal to probably one general election unless the period is extended. I haven't asked Ladbrokes for odds either way but I will support a campaign, especially when one sees so much prejudice in the UK against expats from all quarters. Many of us have already experienced the extents to which the treasury will oppose ANY expenditure after our fight regarding Equitable Life where politicains of all parties did what they could to curry a few votes and then did the opposite to save a few bob, even when the Parliamentary Ombudsman came down in favour of the claims!

PS Just off for various Reveillons including Cornish, Geordie, Cider drinkers from Somerset, Breton, French, Nigerian, Sarf London etc etc etc. Bloavez Mad (Happy New Year in Breton) to everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sum ergo, democratia...

As you see it Brian

Actually hit a big nail squarely on the head there. I'd be fighting Brits who do not do debate the way the French do with which I feel far more comfortable and get something dcent to eat and drink at the same time like as not. I'll mull it over but I am far too annoyed by the myopic view that I shall do something.

Revolutionary ideas? Ha, just fighting on as ever to get a better world for all children in which they get their fair share of saying how their world might be. Fortunately the OH does the same, so I'll just plough on with her in her study doing much the same. Just wish there was a bit more of it paid than there was this year!

Good celebration to you all though. See you next year!

The problem, Brian, (if there is a problem) is that when ever a discussion is started it is by its very nature "open to all" and I too feel that we'd probably upset more people than drive anything forward by banging on about our ideas! We obviously share a lot of ideas and outlooks on life and society as do a few others here too, so what revolutionary ideas do you have in mind for 2012...!

Have a great evening and all the very best for 2012. I'll keep doing my bit with the kids, you're so right about opening doors and 'international parochialism' - all good fun and yesterday morning my youngest said "ouvre les shutters papa" so, at just under 3, some of it is sinking in already ;-)

I think I rattled a few cages today, good too. If I can find the energy I may just try to get some support to cobble something together. Do you think, Andrew, given that we are of similar mind on this, that an extra discussion aimed at the people who feel as you and I do would help? Or would the 'keep a foot up to the shoulder blades' mob infer and interfere too much? Your opinion would be very appreciated.

Have a good 2012 online friend and your family too. Get your children started on the Anglais and open a new door within the family as part of it and ENJOY it! We need a cosmopolitan world to break the back of 'international parochialism'.