Political Rights 

#LetUsVote

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What rights are we asking for?

 

We want to keep the democratic rights, in the 2021 elections and beyond, that we have enjoyed for decades:
 

  • to have a say in choosing our local representatives such as councillors, mayors and police and crime commissioners
     

  • to stand as candidates in local and regional elections, and be elected to represent and serve our local communities

Why do we want to keep these rights?

 

  • Most fundamentally, because removing our democratic rights is to disenfranchise us. To take away someone’s existing right to vote is to push them away, to send a very clear message:
     

‘we are no longer interested in what you have to say’.
 

  • As members of our local community, we have a stake in how those communities are run. This is not just about potholes and bin collections, but about so much more: our schools, our playgrounds and parks, our green spaces, parking policies in our local villages and towns, road and safety improvements, policing - to name just a few.
     

  • Being a councillor gives a huge opportunity to achieve results for your local community. Cyprus-born Councillor Mete Coban was awarded an MBE for his services to young people, setting up My Life My Say. He says:

The bit that excites me most is what role this will play for Hackney. When I win, Hackney wins, and what I mean by that is that ultimately the stereotype of young people isn’t great generally – but from Hackney let’s be honest, growing up there were never any good news stories about my generation. It’s a win for all of us and shows we all have talent and we all have a role to play in shaping society.

How can this be achieved?

 

The simplest, fairest and most democratic way of ensuring that EU citizens keep their existing rights, is to level up voting rights to all local residents


 

  • Wales and Scotland have already set the precedent for this, in both cases by a required two-thirds super majority.
     

    • In November 2019, the Welsh Government passed a bill to extend voting and candidacy rights to all foreign nationals with leave to remain. This applies to local government elections in Wales, and also to the Senedd Cymru / Welsh Parliament itself.

      The Equality Impact Assessment accompanying the bill stated:

      “Enfranchising all resident foreign citizens legally resident in Wales [...] will help to make clear to those individuals that they are settled, respected members of communities who are able to exercise their democratic responsibilities.”
       

    • In February 2020, the Scottish Government passed a bill, to extend voting rights to all foreign nationals with leave to remain, including all those granted refugee status. It also extends candidacy rights to foreign nationals with indefinite leave to remain, and to those with pre-settled status. These rights apply not only to local government elections in Scotland, but also to the Scottish Parliament itself.

      The Equality Impact Assessment stated:

      “The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be a country where every individual who has chosen to live here is equally valued, no matter where they were born.”


We call on the UK Government to ensure that all of us living in England and Northern Ireland

will be similarly valued and respected.

 


 

  • Any other approach leads to arbitrary and unfair divisions between groups of neighbours, friends and colleagues who do or don’t have a say in how their community is run.  As it stands, EU citizens from Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Luxembourg, Spain and Poland have been promised they can continue to vote in English local elections, whereas other EU citizens are still left in the dark and may have their voting rights taken away​. Commonwealth citizens also local election voting rights.

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