Friday, May 16, 2008

The scandal of Lord Goldsmith's proposals for Irish settlers in the UK

I found an interesting article in this week's Big Issue entitled "Irish Face Threat Over Right To Vote", concerning Lord Goldsmith's proposal with respect to voting and other rights for people north and south of the border in Ireland.

When Goldsmith's report came out in March, the media focussed on his proposals for swearing oaths and suchlike. But some of his other proposals, in the words of Paul Donovan in Big Issue:

...threaten to disenfranchise Irish and Commonwealth people arriving to settle in England. Under the controversial proposals, Irish and Commonwealth citizens arriving in England would not be placed on the electoral register and therefore denied the right to vote in a general election.

John McDonnell MP is quoted as saying:

This is a disgraceful attack on the rights and civil liberties of Irish people in this country. Over the years, teh Tories have promoted proposals like this to undermine the political influence of Irish people in this country. To have these proposals raised under a new Labour government is not acceptable. Irish people have contributed to the development and to the political life of this country over generations.

Over on the Guardian's Comment is Free, Mick Fealty commented at the time of the report, reflecting on the intracies of the situation and concluding:

...Lord Goldsmith appears to advocating the withdrawal of a Westminster vote from a huge swath of people.

Whatever else you say about the British Constitution, over the years it has been clear that any attempt, such as Goldsmith's, to "tidy" it up usually ends in failure - normally for good reasons.

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