Can we not lay this one to rest? Jayzuz, here we bloody go again. The Sunday Times is claiming that Alex Salmond has acted illegally by denying the vote to expat Scots. Because it’s behind a paywall, and wild horses would not drag me to give money to Rupert Murdoch, I had to rely on third party reports so am unclear on what grounds the Times can make its allegation. Though they’re probably along the lines of “See that Alicsammin, I hate him hate him hate him. He’s smelly and racist against English people. Did I mention I hate him.”
Onieweys, for the umpteenth time, and for the benefit of very small children, the joined up thinking challenged, and dumb as soup Times journalists, expat Scots cannot vote in the referendum for many reasons, none of which have anything to do with Alicsammin and his eevyle desire to install himself as our alien lizard overlord.
And by the way, it’s expat, no hyphen, because it’s short for expatriate, which comes from the French expatrier “to banish, exile”. It’s not derived from ex-patriot and doesn’t contain the ex- meaning former. An ex-pat is a Patrick who’s had the operation and is now called Marina.
Neither, by the way again, do the real reasons expat Scots cannot vote in the referendum have anything to do with them deciding not to live in Scotland. It’s common practice in many countries to allow expats to vote. UK citizens living in other EU states retain a vote in UK General Elections for 15 years. Spain, France, and the USA organise ballots for their citizens who live abroad. When Latvia recently held a referendum on whether to grant the Russian language equal constitutional status to the Latvian language, a ballot of Latvian citizens in the UK was organised by the Latvian embassy in London.
Amongst the large Scottish diaspora, of which I was once a part before returning to live in Scotland, there are many many thousands who did not actively choose to leave Scotland. A great many did so only reluctantly, because it was the only way to get a decent job. That is one of the reasons we are campaigning for independence, because the economic policies of the Union prevent Scotland from offering livelihoods and opportunities for all Scots, and forces our children and siblings to leave. Scots who were forced to move south or move overseas because of the neglect and deindustrialisation wreaked by successive Westminster governments are victims of the Union’s ill effects on Scotland, they are not dirty stop outs who chose to leave and by leaving surrendered their voice.
Of course expat Scots have a right to a voice. But they don’t have a right to a vote in the referendum, and they can’t have the right to a vote. The real reason is very simple. So simple and obvious it is overlooked – even by supporters of independence.
The reason is that Scotland is not an independent country yet. Since Scotland is not an independent country, there is as yet no legal definition of a Scottish citizen. You cannot legally be a citizen of a state which does not legally exist. And if you cannot define who is or is not a citizen of Scotland, then how do you define who has the right to vote in the referendum?
The Scottish Parliament has no legal authority to hold any sort of ballot outside of Scotland. That’s a power reserved to Westminster. So the only body capable of organising a ballot of expat Scots to allow them to participate in the referendum is the Westminster Parliament. However that would mean that the Westminster Parliament would have to determine some basis for deciding who would be a citizen of an independent Scotland – but that is not something that Westminster can decide. Only the Parliament and constitution of an independent Scotland can define who is a Scottish citizen. Tory MPs from Surrey don’t have that right, not even if they’re Michael Gove.
The only way in which the Westminster Parliament can pass the necessary legislation would be after consultation with the Scottish Parliament. But the current Scottish Parliament doesn’t have the legal authority to determine who would be a Scottish citizen. Westminster could negotiate with the current Scottish Parliament in order to reach a provisional agreement on who might count as a Scottish citizen for the purposes of the referendum. But that would mean prenegotiating Scottish independence, and the Westminster Mob have already made it clear that as far as uppity Caledonians are concerned they don’t do negotiations, whether of the pre or post variety.
So if you are an expat Scot in say, Woking, who is aggrieved that you cannot vote in the referendum, then write a stiff letter of complaint to your local Conservative MP, demanding that Westminster opens negotiations with the Scottish Parliament forthwith.
However Scotland might insist that Westminster adopts the fitba rule, and anyone with at least one Scottish grandparent could qualify for the national team. That would mean Davie Cameron would have a vote and he’d no longer have any excuse for not debating Eck. You can see why he might not be so keen.