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Esteem our British Citizenship

This is Part 5 of our series "Basic Principles of Patriotic Sovereignty". In Part 1 of this series we looked at maintaining the integrity of the democratic vote as it goes into the ballot box. In this paper we look at who is allowed to vote in the first place!

Unknown to many, it is not necessary to be a British citizen in order to vote at Holyrood and Senedd elections, or local elections in Scotland and Wales. The "citizenship-based" franchise – a staple of British democracy for centuries – has been ditched for a "residence-based" franchise. Will a Labour Party introduce this anti-national innovation for British General Elections? As we explain, we have to be on our guard, and in time, a patriotic party must repeal the current "residence-based" franchise in Scotland and Wales.

Pic: One of our Table Team at our Street Stall, Glasgow, 26-8-23. Check out our range of pro-Britain designs on Tee-Shirts, Hoodies, Mugs, Bags and more here at our Spring Shop. The above Tee is here.

Principle: National Voting Rights Derive from National Citizenship (not Residence)

Policy: Repeal all Voting Rights based on Residence alone.



Citizenship is a status that identifies a person's formal membership of a nation. It entitles them to hold that country's passport. It can also entitle them to enjoy privileges which are not available to non-citizens. For example, it will extend voting rights.


If national citizenship is to be meaningful then it has to have a benefit. There must be privileges which advantage you as "a member of the national club". Otherwise, what is the point in becoming a citizen?



Citizenship is related to membership of a nation. Therefore, those who oppose the idea of distinct nations are often opposed to the concept of "national citizenship".


This is because they see us all as "citizens of the world".


For them, "national citizenship" is something which stands opposed to that notion, and so it must be torn down.


However, this "citizens of the world" attitude is destructive of the social order. It ignores the fact that society is a fragile organism, held together by unspoken concepts such as the social contract – the idea that we obey the laws in return for the advantages and protections which this confers – and the social covenant – the idea that we all share enough in common to pull together for the common good.


Both these concepts – which work to keep society stable, and our place within it meaningful – are undermined and subverted by permissive immigration policies and the franchise of non-citizens.


So it is important to understand that there is a constant political war being waged on the idea of "national citizenship". It is part of the constant war on the idea of distinct nations in the first place.


This war has already advanced further than many people might realise!



In the United Kingdom, it has long been the case that national voting rights derive from national citizenship rights.


That is, you can only vote if you are a British citizen, or – due to various historical reasons – an Irish or Commonwealth citizen. (1)

Even where EU citizens can vote, it is a right which derives from their own citizenship of their own countries.


The point is, the right to vote is derived from your national citizenship, not merely from your residency.



David Cameron's government devolved control over the franchise for Scottish Parliament and Scottish Local Elections to Holyrood, via Sec 4 of the Scotland Act 2016.


It also devolved the same power over the franchise to the Senedd, under Sec 5 of the Wales Act 2017.


Naturally, these institutions set about using such power to make themselves as different from Westminster as they possibly could.


Consequently, in 2020, "citizenship-based" voting rights gave way to "residence-based" voting rights.

This was a massive change in the way we have hitherto understood our democracy and "who gets to vote".



It is now the law in Scotland and Wales that you do not need to be a British (or Irish, or Commonwealth or EU) citizen in order to vote at Scottish and Welsh Parliamentary and Local elections.


You don't need to be a British citizen (or Irish, or Commonwealth or EU). You can simply be a "qualifying foreign citizen".


A "qualifying foreign citizen" is defined as a foreign national who has leave to enter or remain in the UK or who does not require such leave. [See Sec 1(9) of the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Act 2020.]


In other words, "anyone legally resident"!


That's all that's required now. You just have to live somewhere in Scotland, or Wales, legally!

Table from House of Commons Library, Research Briefing "Who can vote in UK elections?" 16 January 2024.


It is still the case that you have to be a British citizen to vote at the British General Election and at Westminster By-Elections throughout the UK.


However, it would not surprise us if the Labour Party, if elected on 4 July 2024, overturns that law.



1. It is an Attack on the Idea of the Nation

Getting rid of the requirement to be a British citizen is a way to attack the idea that there is a British nation in the first place.


That may be one reason why the Scottish and Welsh nationalists promote residence-based voting.

They don't want people to recognise the idea of British citizenship – of being a citizen of Britain – in the first place!


However, whether you recognise your nation as Britain, or Scotland only, you should be concerned about any attack on your nation.


2. Democracy will Change as Fast as Immigrants Come In

At present, immigration is way too high.


However, at present, at least new immigrants who want to vote at British General Elections or Westminster By-Elections, have to choose whether to cast off their previous citizenship, embark on a path to British citizenship, and thereby presumably commit to their new country. Then they have to wait 5 years until they can officially apply. Only when that process is over, are they able to become citizens and vote.


So there is a process of "commitment" and "integration" involved there, albeit only 5 years.


However, with residence-based voting, a new immigrant gets to vote as soon as they are given legal residence. He or she does not need to do anything which suggests they have cast off their own identity, or previous citizenship. They do not need to do anything to indicate that they are even committing to the country in the long-term.


That means: 

a. It is a recipe for perpetual immigrant-driven political change, which renders the idea of a stable voting population impossible, and it renders the idea of a generally-accepted common political discourse more difficult. It means that politics is changing as fast as the people are coming in!


b. Politically, for those of us who oppose the current levels of mass immigration, "residence-based" voting means we face the possibility that the number of foreign nationals, who are voting, will be arriving at a faster rate than the parties which oppose immigration can ever hope democratically to convert the indigenous to our cause!


As we say, since 2020, this is already the case for Holyrood and Senedd elections and Local Elections in Scotland and Wales.


3. It is Not Reciprocal

These voting rights are not reciprocal. That is, it doesn't work the other way around.


For example, an Indian who is "resident in Scotland" is able to vote at a Holyrood election, but a Scotsman who goes to India is not able to vote in India!


Not that it would make it right, even if he could; we're just pointing out this extra element of unfairness!



We advocate the following, knowing that it is possible that the Labour Party, if elected at the General Election on 4 July 2024, may bring in "residence-based" voting for Westminster elections.


We advocate these policies for the purpose of helping patriotic political parties and people to understand what is going on, and how things might be set right in the future – even if it is not possible to do so right now!


We encourage political parties to use these policies as they please. We're happy to get them out there!


1- We recognise that "citizenship-based" voting rights esteem the concept of "national citizenship" in the first place. We recognise it helps to make official membership of the nation an exclusive and valuable possession; which also confers the enjoyment of special rights of membership; and infers duties owed to the nation.


2- We recognise "residence-based" voting rights – where everyone is allowed to vote simply because they live here legally – to be an attack upon the idea of the nation in the first place. We urge all patriotic parties to expose, and oppose, the democratic travesty of "residence-based" voting rights.


3- We urge a return to "citizenship-based" voting rights, to ensure that only British citizens are able to vote (with the historic exceptions for Irish and Commonwealth citizens which currently exist – although those should be looked at again).


4- To this end, we advocate the repeal of the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Act 2020 which brought in the residence-based voting rights in Scottish Parliament, and Local, elections.


5- This will also require the repeal of elements of Section 12 of the Scotland Act 1998 (as amended by Sec 4 of the Scotland Act 2016) to ensure that Holyrood is unable to set the franchise for its elections in future.


6- We advocate the repeal of the sections of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020, which brought in the residence-based voting rights for "qualifying foreign citizens" in Welsh Parliament, and Local, elections.


7- This will also require repealing elements of Section 13 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (as amended by Sec 5 of the Wales Act 2017) to ensure that the Senedd is unable to set the franchise for its elections in future.



1. Change the Length of Time before Citizenship is Granted

Why should it only be 5 years before "naturalisation"? Why not 10 years like Italy, Spain, Switzerland? Or 15 years like Austria, China, Saudi Arabia; or 20 years like Syria, Kuwait and Bahrain? After all, what is the rush to make people citizens? Some countries grant only a handful of citizenship awards per year.


2. Limit the Number per Year

Why did the UK grant 202,041 citizenships, in 2023? Why so many? Why not just have a limit of, say, 10,000? These should be granted on a first-come-first-served basis, meaning that some people moving to the UK might never be granted citizenship if there is a big waiting list in front of them.


3. Ensure Payment of a Large Fee

There should also be considerable financial investment involved; a large payment which benefits the Treasury.


4. A Requirement to be a Christian

If the UK was really "a Christian country", then a new citizen should have to swear an oath of allegiance on a copy of the New Testament. People who were not Christians could still be admitted for residence, but they would not be allowed to become citizens and therefore they would not be allowed to vote. For example, in Saudi Arabia, non-Muslim foreigners attempting to acquire Saudi Arabian nationality must convert to Islam.


(1) At the General Election, European Union citizens cannot vote – but Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland citizens can still do so, as per Section 1 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.


The history regarding Commonwealth citizens is that the Representation of the People Act 1918 provided that only "British subjects" could register as electors – a term which included any person who owed allegiance to the Crown, including Commonwealth citizens.


This has never been revised, even though the Commonwealth includes another 55 countries and reciprocal voting rights for British citizens are only in place with Antigua & Barbuda; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; Mauritius; St. Lucia and St. Vincent & The Grenadines. The Citizens of Cyprus and Malta can also vote at the British General Election, even though they are EU countries, because they are also Commonwealth countries.


As far as citizens of the Republic of Ireland are concerned, Section 2 of the Ireland Act 1949 established that "the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country for the purposes of any law in force in any part of the United Kingdom". As far as voting eligibility is concerned, the Republic did not reciprocate until 1985 and since then British citizens resident in the Republic have been entitled to vote in elections to the Irish Parliament.

Suggestions for a New Citizenship Law

Nick Timothy had a thought provoking article in the Daily Telegraph (13-5-24) on British citizenship, which also addressed the matter of Irish and Commonwealth citizens, and concluded with these suggestions>

So what can be done? A new citizenship law would restore the distinction between citizen and non-citizen in British life.

It should, for example, remove voting rights from non-citizens, so we end the absurdity of Irish and Commonwealth nationals enjoying the right to vote here from the day they arrive, while other nationals who might have contributed for years do not. All should wait for British citizenship.

The new law should clarify access to public services and welfare. Citizens and those legally and ordinarily resident should have full access to healthcare and the education system for their children.

Migrants applying for a visa with dependent children should pay an education surcharge, consistent with the healthcare equivalent.

Those in the country illegally should be barred from all but urgent, life-saving health treatment. Their education and health records should be shared with the immigration authorities.

The criminal law should distinguish between citizen and non-citizen. Building on its policy to strip naturalised Britons of citizenship where they are a threat to national security, the Government should widen its interpretation of "the public good" to allow it to deprive serious criminals who are naturalised citizens too.

Human rights laws should be reformed to make clear that they do not apply to those in the country illegally, and only limited rights should apply to non-citizens who have committed serious offences and should be deported.

To make the distinction between citizen and non-citizen a reality, we will need to take bold steps.

We would need to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, which has done so much to weaken national citizenship.

ID cards would be required to identify who is entitled to what.

These changes are contentious, but they are the unavoidable consequence of the society we have become, and they are needed for public safety anyway. If we want a higher trust society, we must respect and reward citizenship far more than we do.

Nick Timothy, The Daily Telegraph, 13-5-24

Additional Articles on this Subject

SNP/Scottish Cabbage Proposal to Give Everybody the Vote (5-9-18, written to warn people before this became law)

Below: We touched on this in our weekly Show, "Good Evening Britain" in our 101st episode, 12-6-24:


Part 5: National Voting Rights Derive from National Citizenship: Repeal Voting Rights based on Residence alone.


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