Tag Archives: Liberal Democrats Overseas

The Elections Act made easy

On 11 August, in celebration of ASEAN Day (8 August), the Libdems Overseas (LDO) group based in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia held a virtual meet-up with guest speaker, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. On the agenda was the very important topic of how to prepare Brits living abroad to register and vote in future general elections and national referendums.

The Act received the Royal Assent in April this year but is riddled with problems, and has yet to be brought into force by statutory instrument. It introduces amongst other things votes for life (including for those who have lived overseas for more than fifteen years) but also more stringent requirements for voting, such as photo-IDs for UK voters. This would disenfranchise about 9% of voters who currently do not possess one of the permissible forms of photo-ID. Student cards are apparently not acceptable, though pensioners Freedom passes are. The Act would also make it easier for political donations from abroad, though those over £500 would still have to be reported by the political party to the Electoral Commission.

It is therefore no surprise that Lord Wallace who led the Party in debates on the Bill has described it as a “nefarious piece of legislation”, “shabby and illiberal”. The Liberal Democrats had proposed two amendments to the Elections Bill in the House of Lords, neither of which were accepted by the UK Government:

  • A feasibility study leading to British citizens living abroad having their own overseas constituencies and Members of Parliament, as happens with France.
  • Overseas voters to be issued their ballots electronically either by email or downloaded to increase substantially the likelihood that their votes would arrive in time.
Posted in Europe / International and Lib Dem organisations | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Let’s welcome the end of the 15 year rule

Legislation is in the pipeline to restore voting rights to around a million British nationals who have been disenfranchised by living overseas for over 15 years. See James Churchill’s article of 9th February in LDV for more aspects on the subject.

Reaction to previous articles has brought to light a number of misconceptions about this significant group, many of whom are potential Lib Dem voters and even members.

As representatives of Lib Dems Overseas we would like to allay any concerns or disinformation by addressing some of the most frequent points that have been raised in the past.

Why should Brits abroad get to vote when they don’t pay tax?

Most in fact pay tax in their host countries but Brits overseas are also liable to a range of taxes in the UK, such as income from UK rentals, pensions and Inheritance Tax which applies wherever they live in the world if they are deemed (as the vast majority are) UK domiciled.

Why don’t they just vote in their host countries?

Most Brits are transient in their host countries and in any event would not be allowed to vote unless they adopted citizenship, which in turn would normally entail cutting ties with the UK and potentially losing their passports.

Why would they be interested in voting if they no longer live in the UK?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

End of 15-year rule – a big opportunity for all Lib Dems

In the fine print of the recent budget was an announcement that UK citizens living abroad for more than 15 years were to get the right once again to vote in general elections. Eligible voters would register at the location where they lived prior to moving abroad (although we would like to see the establishment of overseas constituencies).

Legislation should be laid before Parliament later this year to bring about the reform.

It is estimated 5 million British citizens live overseas, and that 3 million have lived overseas for over 15 years.

Posted in Op-eds | 31 Comments

Lib Dems Overseas takes action to end seventy years of injustice for 500,000 pensioners

Imagine you took out a retirement plan in your twenties with a private insurance company in order to qualify for an inflation-protected pension. You then discover in horror on retirement, after paying your contributions in full, that if you have moved overseas the pension provider refuses to uprate your pension each year unless you have moved to a ‘qualifying’ country.
Could that really happen?

Very unlikely in the private sector, but this is the reality for over half a million UK state pensioners, including some 100,000 war veterans. A recent survey showed that 50% of ‘frozen’ pensioners are receiving £65 a week or less, compared to the current basic pension of £134.25 a week.

What determines whether your pension will be uprated or not? It comes down to whether the country concerned has a ‘reciprocal agreement’ with the UK, an excuse which is illogical and unfair.
Qualifying countries include the USA, Europe (at the moment) and most British Overseas Territories. ‘Frozen’ countries include Australia, Canada, South Africa and most of Asia. To illustrate the absurdity of the policy, pensioners in the US Virgin Islands are uprated annually whilst those in the British Virgin Islands are ‘frozen’.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 4 Comments

The geopolitics of Covid19 – international webinar

On Sunday 28 June at 1400 BST, a time chosen to suit a global audience, LibDems Overseas (LDO), a g(local) party, co-hosted our first webinar with the Paddy Ashdown Forum, the centrist think tank supported by the European Liberal Forum. Participants who joined via Zoom were largely drawn from LDO’s 1000 members and supporters living in over 40 countries outside Europe. The event was moderated by LDO Chair, George Cunningham.

Covid19 has been called a “game changer”, knocking all countries sideways economically and in the sphere of public health. It has also awoken the world to the rise of China, where the outbreak started, and which may be perceived as the nation to come out “on top” after the pandemic.

Our first speaker Dr Christine Cheng, (lecturer in War Studies at Kings College London and key member of the Federal Policy Committee) focused on the impact of Covid19 on UK-China relations. Based on a 2019 Delta poll, Brits over-estimated UK’s influence in the world as #2 after the US and ahead of China at #3. Cheng recommended that the UK should stay aligned with the EU for greater clout. The diplomatic row between China and Canada, sparked by the detention of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, was followed by China’s arrests of two Canadians on suspicion of espionage. More recently, Australia’s call for an independent investigation into the origins of the Coronavirus resulted in tariffs being imposed on Australian goods. These instances point to a more confident China, ready to defend its ground.

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged and | 18 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • Andy Boddington
    Well worth a listen - The Documentary: Brexit: Three Years On https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct51j9...
  • Martin Gray
    @Peter ....Many women don't share your confidence as regards thier safety - CCTV or not . Workers needing to get to certain places at unsocialable hours on mu...
  • Martin
    Of course Mel Borthwaite is right. Compare the proportions who might consider voting for our candidates from those who would like to see the UK moving back tow...
  • Jeff
    Interesting to hear about such a remote part of the world. On Skype today she mentioned that the daytime temperature was in the minus 30°Cs and tonight m...
  • Martin Gray
    @David .... It was a UK wide referendum, & 1 million + Scots voted to leave the European Union... The chances of them ever being accepted into the EU as ...