British Prime Minister David Cameron has made no secret of
the fact that he considers the ”expat vote” to be a critical part of his
upcoming election campaign. It should therefore come as no surprise that the
Conservative government are seeking to make changes to the current voting rules
These rules will enable more British expats than ever before
to vote on matters of national importance, and these additional votes could be
enough to help swing an election in the Conservatives direction later in the
The current rules enable expats living abroad to vote on
political matters, though this right is withdrawn when the individual has lived
overseas for 15 years or more. Whether or not this is right is up for
discussion, though frankly in the past the UK’s expat population seem to have
received little attention from politicians.
One reason for this is just how few expats actually bother
to vote – even when they’re allowed to. Less than 30,000 overseas votes are
normally received and so this less-motivated group have largely been ignored.
Now, though, Tory MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is championing
the cause, insisting that ”the 15 year rule” is anachronistic and denies many
legitimate voters a chance to have their input on how Britain and her
territories should be governed.
Experts seem rather cynical over whether the legislation
will pass. For one, the proposal is at a very early stage and will require
considerable discussion and consultation before being voted into law. For
another the government will be dissolved in May in readiness for the upcoming
general election and it seems it is unlikely the legislation will be approved
by then. It may all be a case of ”too little, too late” for overseas voters.
That said, if and when the legislation is approved, it could
activate a sizeable army of voters. At present, the size of the expat
population missing out on voting is estimated to be around 1 million people.
Even just a small proportion of these people voting could help to sway an
election. If approved, Mr Clifton-Brown hopes that his initiative will add a
minimum of 100,000 additional votes at future elections.
Furthermore, experts suggest that the party who manage to
activate these voters should expect a large portion of the resultant votes.
Expats who are keen to have their say in British politics
but have been excluded in the past thanks to the 15 year rule are encouraged to
contact their party of choice and encourage them to support the forthcoming