Philip Dunne MP: Now is the last chance for ex-pats to register to vote for change
Philip Dunne is MP for Ludlow, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party's International Office and the Parliamentary Chairman of Conservatives Abroad.
The countdown is closing fast on Gordon Brown's options as to when to take the short trip along The Mall to ask Her Majesty to dissolve Parliament and allow the British public to have their say on his failed and discredited government.
But it isn’t just voters living in the UK who will soon get the opportunity to vote for change. Millions of British citizens living overseas are also entitled to vote. And they should. For all the reasons ConservativeHome readers know so well.
Gordon Brown’s Government has brought Britain to her knees. But his policies have affected British citizens living overseas as well as people living in the UK.
Pensioners living abroad have seen their income reduced with the dramatic devaluation of the Pound combined with current low interest rates on sterling savings. The value of their occupational pensions from British schemes has been slashed following Gordon Brown’s £100m raid on pension funds.
British expats, whether working or retired, now pay more tax, pay more for healthcare when returning to the UK, and pay higher fees to send their children to university in the UK.
Crucial decisions are made in Westminster each year affecting UK citizens and their families wherever they live: on pensions, on tax, on healthcare, on education – even on voting rights. It is a scandal that this Government sends our soldiers into conflict overseas, yet has made it harder for them to vote while on active service,
At the election, expats will also have a choice: five more years of Gordon Brown’s tired government making things worse, or change under David Cameron and the Conservatives with the energy, leadership and values to get the country moving.
Last year, the Party Chairman Eric Pickles set Conservatives Abroad the target of registering 60,000 overseas voters, the equivalent electorate of one UK constituency, before the General Election.
With the large number of target seats with marginal majorities to overturn, these votes could make a real difference to the result of these elections and help bring about the change Britain badly needs.
The Prime Minister will announce the date for the General Election after the Budget finally set for 24th March. One of his Ministers recently let slip 6th May as the likely date. So there are only a few weeks left for your friends, family or colleagues abroad to get on the register.
All British citizens over 18 years of age last on an Electoral Register in the UK less than 15 years ago can register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections. Those who do not qualify might want to try to register regardless, to make the point that they are disenfranchised.
Click on this link to download the Electoral Commission's registration form as well as forms to vote by proxy or by post.
Please forward that link to anyone you know living outside the UK who might want to help vote for a change of government in Britain.
Please encourage expats to appoint a proxy in the UK as the best way to ensure their vote is counted. Anyone already on the register in any constituency can act as proxy to vote in person in the same constituency or by post in another. Each Conservative Association has individuals willing to act as proxy if needed.
Conservatives Abroad are recommending British expats need to be on the register by 1st April to be certain their vote can count. So my message to British expats is don't leave your vote at home, register today.