Saturday, January 5, 2013

"Disenfranchise" Neil Kinnock? How very dare we?

In spite of my best efforts (and several re-readings), I'm not sure I entirely understand the point being made by the Ian Stewart article republished by Wings Over Scotland. There are a couple of possibilities. The first is that the entire UK electorate should have a vote in the Scottish independence referendum - a straightforward repudiation of the principle of democratic self-determination. The second possible interpretation is that the referendum franchise should be extended to several million people beyond the territory of Scotland, but that this would be limited to those with Scottish heritage. However, references to "the Kinnocks of South Wales" suggest that the definition of Scottish heritage would be, to say the least, rather broad. This does seem to have a great deal in common with the school of thought favoured by my delightful Tory chums at PB, who repeatedly tell me that I can't possibly be Scottish because my surname is Kelly, and if you go back a few generations my ancestors are all Irish or French-Canadian.

So perhaps if Mr Stewart gets his way, Neil Kinnock will have a vote on Scottish independence, and I won't.

Let me just run a few points of fact past Mr Stewart -

1) Scots who move to another part of the UK are not permitted to vote in Scottish elections to the House of Commons.

2) Scots who move to another part of the UK are not permitted to vote in Scottish Parliament elections.

3) Scots who lived in another part of the UK were not permitted to vote in the devolution referendum in 1997.

4) Scots, and indeed all British citizens, who have been out of the UK for more than 15 years, are not permitted to vote in any UK elections or referendums at all.

I make no comment on the rightness or wrongness of these rules. I merely note that they were all either set in place by a Labour government, or upheld by a Labour government over a long period of time. So if Mr Stewart has a problem with the franchise for the independence referendum, perhaps he should start by considering the broader framework of UK electoral rules with which that franchise is logically consistent.

Oh, and on a point of pedantry, Mr Stewart's claim that French voters in London have their own seat in the National Assembly is not true. In fact, the whole of the UK is part of a single mega-constituency covering ten countries of Northern Europe. And you thought Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey was bad...

1 comment:

tris said...

Maybe the whole of the European Union should have a vote in any referendum on the UK's future in that organisation.

Why would Romanians and Maltese not be entitled to their viewpoint?