...if UK expats were genuinely worried about their democratic rights, they'd vote in far larger numbers than they do. Only 12,800 are even registered to vote....
Other nation's expatriates (or any citizens who happen to be abroad on polling day) can walk into their embassy anywhere in the world, identify themselves and vote. British expats however, must re-register in their last UK constituency (a place, in my case, with which I have no ongoing connection); apply separately for a postal vote, and then appoint a trusted proxy to whom the ballot is (possibly) sent in time. This must be done each time you want to vote. Organised and politically-passionate as I am, even I didn't always succeed.
I have been abroad so long now that I have lost my vote completely. This, though still working for and remitting profits to a British business to be taxed. This, though still paying council tax on a UK property. This though still paying VAT, car tax, petrol duty etc on all purchases there. This, worst of all, though my family will still get to pay almost half of my lifetime's savings in Inheritance Tax to be squandered by the UK government when I die.
As to whether I am, as Iain sneeringly suggests, not;
"....genuinely worried about my democratic rights..."
...readers of this blog may well judge for themselves. If his remark was annoying, however, it was as nothing to those in the comments. As Kipling's mother said;
What do they know of England, who only England know?
Not a lot, if Iain's readers are anything to go by. By the time I caught up with the post, there were over 40 mostly blood-heating comments. Probably no-one will scroll down far enough to read mine, but if you can be bothered, please do so and take part in the "debate".
Expatriates come in many varieties. Those in the EU get to vote locally, which is something. Those outside are ultimately disenfranchised completely. Many contribute massively to Britain's economy, especially those of us who produce those "invisible exports" that so often prop up the UK's GDP. To read Iain's commenters, you would never guess.
UPDATE: For ease of reference, here's my comment on Iain's post:
The debate in the comments is horrifying. Not all expats are tax exiles. Those of us with homes and other assets in the UK pay a lot of taxes and we are liable to inheritance tax. Even those who **are** tax exiles are not using any of the benefits taxes pay for and are serving those back home by keeping some competitive pressure on the government to keep tax down. When did tax - essentially a legalised protection racket - become a moral issue, for God's sake?
I work overseas for a UK business and have been instrumental in remitting millions to that business, all taxed and taxed again. That your commenters think an unproductive parasite living in Britain is worthier of a vote than a British citizen who is an agent of economic growth and a generator of valuable "invisible exports" is appalling.
I think the fact my hobby is writing a blog on British politics suggests I am rather more connected than many Kipling was thinking of when he wrote "What do they know of England, who only England know?"
As for your comment that expats don't bother to vote, have you ever tried? It's a nightmare. Postal votes are not allowed to leave the islands and you need to appoint a proxy you can trust. Even a politically-interested person like me failed to get it organised several times. Other nations' expats just go to a polling station in their embassy. Not us. Then, after you have been abroad too long, you lose your vote altogether (even though the Revenue still plans to steal almost half your life's work from your family when you die).