In 2015 just under 2% of UK ex-pats were registered to vote but it seems that they are a very vocal few. I am forever seeing notices or letters urging me to register.
So, this is a made up interview with Mr X who, although he does not exist, could share the views of the 2% of ex-pat voters. It is a bit tongue-in-cheek & is not meant to offend or insult, just provoke thought. (And stir things up a bit!)
Hallo, Mr X, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can we start by asking you how long you have lived in France & why did you decide to move here?
Yes, of course. My wife & I moved over here about ten years ago when we took early retirement. We have had holidays in France over the years & fell in love with the south west. We love the countryside & pace of life plus the price of houses compared to the UK meant that we could buy a very nice property.
Do you miss anything about the UK?
Well, we do miss our children & grand kids but they come & stay as often as they can. As you can see, we have plenty of room & the kids love the pool! Apart from that we were quite happy to make the move. We do not miss the traffic & crowds. People are so much more polite here but it took us a while to get used to the shop opening hours! Fortunately we have Sky TV. I like sports so I can watch the sports channels just like in the UK.
You want to continue to vote in the UK despite living here. Surely if you vote anywhere you would prefer to vote in the country you actually live in?
Well, our pensions come from the UK & our children are affected by the UK government so we want to have a say there.
Don't your children have their own vote? Perhaps they should be able to vote in France to support you? After all, what the french government do will affect your life far more than the UK government.
That may be so, but I can't be bothered to jump through the hoops required. The welfare of our children is important to us. I assume that they would vote the same way as me.
So you are happy to live here & just accept any new taxes, laws & policies the french government might impose? Or do you feel that french laws do not apply to ex-pats?
Not at all, that would be silly! We can cherry pick the bits which benefit us most & moan like hell when that does not always work. Take the Winter Fuel Payment for instance, we are lobbying to have that reinstated. We have paid in to the system all our lives - it is ours by right! It's part of our pension.
Is it? I know you have to be a pensioner to get it but you still need to claim for it separately. Surely if it was part of your pension it would not be a "benefit" or be paid separately? It comes under 'Heating & housing benefits' on the Government web site.
Yes, but losing it has made things difficult for us. It really made a difference!
It was 300 pounds a year. Your Sky Sports cost 540 pounds a year, you have 2 cars & you eat out at least twice a week. I suggest that as yet you do not have to choose between heating one room or eating cat food. Do you not feel that to claim for aid that you in all honesty do not need is a little unsocial? It means that those who really do need the help find that the financial cupboard is somewhat bare.
But it is ours by right, we are doing nothing wrong!
Agreed, you are not. And let's face it noone is going to turn down free money. I admit that if I was eligible I would be tempted to claim. The way the government set the parameters initially was wrong. If the WFP was means tested it would have gone much further & to stop it by looking at average temperatures was misguided. If one really needs help with heating why not ask the french government? I believe they have a similar system?
I would not know how....
To return to the voting issue, there is a law which prevents foriegners from contributing funds to political parties. This prevents those from overseas influencing UK domestic government. Do you not think that anyone who has lived overseas for 15 years or more should also have their influence in what would be now considered the "old" country curtailed? The only things British about us is the passport we hold & the language we speak. If we really loved the UK we would be living there. Many arguments against this can be used to make the point that we should all have the right to vote in ANY other country in the world. What the US decide to do can very quickly affect the rest of the world so why not demand the right to vote there?
That's different, we do not have links there...
I think the 98% of those not registered to vote in the UK are probably quite relaxed about the whole issue.