Campaign launched for expat Scots to vote on independence

by Ray Clancy on January 20, 2012

Referendum likely to take place in 2014 but expat Scots may not be allowed to vote

Scottish expats who want to vote in the upcoming referendum on Scotland’s independence are set to be disappointed as the government is not keen on allowing such as move.

The referendum, the date of which has already sparked a furious political row, is most likely to take place in 2014. If over 50% vote in favour of independence it would mean Scotland leaving the United Kingdom.

One Scottish man has set up a website and Facebook page as well as started a Twitter account and online petition for his Let Wallace Vote campaign for non resident Scots to be able to vote. James Wallace believes that all Scots should have a say.

‘I along with 800,000 Scots will not be able to vote in the Scottish referendum. I, and so many others, just want the basic right to have a say in the future of my homeland,’ he said.

A law graduate, he is moving to London next month to work and will not be able to vote as a result.

‘I was born in Scotland, I have lived there for my whole existence of 23 years, it will always be home and if Scotland becomes independent I will have to get a Scottish passport. But I have no say on the future of my country. Surely this is unfair?’ explained Wallace who shares a surname with the warrior William Wallace who fought the English in the late 13th century.

‘I like many others go abroad to learn and will eventually return with that knowledge to improve my country,’ he added.

Supporter Richard Craw said; ‘There are so many Scots people living and working all over the world, we must all be given the right to vote on such an important issue as the destiny of our country’.

While Paul McConnochie said; ‘I am a Scotsman who has recently moved to Denmark, and will be living here during the referendum. I moved here for work purposes. I am allowed to vote in elections. So, I should be allowed to vote in Referendums also’.

And Ian Wallace said; ‘Once a Scot, always a Scot. Leaving Scotland for work, or any other reason, should not mean losing the right to vote in the Independence Referendum’.

Some Scottish politians are in favour of letting expats vote.

‘Scots working outwith Scotland at the time of UK general elections are allowed to vote, so why should they be banned from voting in one of the most important decisions in Scotland in over 300 years?’ said MSP Elaine Murray.

But Bruce Crawford, minister for government strategy, told the Scottish Parliament that as hundreds of thousands of people born in Scotland now live elsewhere the registration and validation of entitlement to vote would add significant complexity to the task of organising and running the referendum.

Crawford added that the principle that referenda should be determined by residency was internationally accepted.

The Scotland Act says that someone wanting to vote in a Scottish Parliament election must be entitled to vote as electors at a local government election and is registered on the register of local government electors.

For Scots living abroad, the rules state that if you had been registered to vote in the UK in the previous 15 years you can remain on the election register that allows you to vote in UK parliamentary or European parliament election. It does not give you the right to vote in local elections or in elections to the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Frustrated January 26, 2012 at 9:19 am

Frankly this is laughable……….if this james wallace like many others are moving south of the border and really want so badly to vote…..jesus I'm sure it wont be much of an issue remaining vote registered at mummy and daddys for a few months!

Frustrated by the cynical defocusing of the real issue!


Euan January 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Are you really saying you want people to break the law in order to be able to vote? Pretty sad state of affairs if we've gotten to that point.


foinaven0 January 31, 2012 at 11:06 am

Well, I'm pretty upset at not being allowed to vote ! I am Scottish but actually living abroad………but I plan to move back home in the near future………. Don't see why English, Northern Irish, Welsh as well as Commonwealth Nationals should be allowed to vote if living in Scotland while true Scots, even if actually living abroad, are not allowed to voice their opinion ! If this referendum is to take place, which it will, let it be done fairly and squarely ! And, 16 &17 year olds being allowed to vote…..true, they are the future of Scotaland and should have their say ! However, if they are "old enough" to vote on this very important matter, they should also be allowed to vote on all matters ! Is this a case of the SNP thinking they'll get more "Yes" votes from younger people ?!


Paul September 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm

That is exactly the case. The SNP are well aware that most (not all) the 16 and 17 year olds are blinkered and only see the "independence" side of the coin. So by allowing them to vote they are likely to benefit the "Yes" camp. Similarly those of us who live away from Scotland see the bigger picture and I believe the majority of us are in the "No" camp (only my own belief). As such, by rejecting the call for ex-pats to vote the SNP are ensuring the possible extra "No" votes do not affect the outcome.
Perhaps I am cynical, but in a nutshell I too would like a say in the country where I was born, brought up and would like to return to one day……if it is in the "state" I left it!


john September 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Refusing expat Scots the right to vote is an insult. It is akin to saying we are not Scottish anymore. I'm still fuming…


Lyn October 19, 2012 at 12:29 am

Refusing to except that being Scottish means more than just flag waving when suits! Makes me fume with anger……Why expect vote when not living within Scotland? Vote for independence when not living in Scotland, I assume would be a "No" vote.

I for one do not wish to except a vote from ex pats who really have no input to daily living within Scotland. If not living in Scotland, no point in flag waving. England has its own North/South ever growing divide…..Giving time, this divide will get worse, remember riots last year……I would like this once in a life time historic vote to come from the citizens off Scotland……Who are residents and live within Scotland. My fear is many ex pats will look to buy homes in Scotland, vote and then leave…….I sincerely hope that SNP is aware of that possibility…..And nip that in the bud.


suzan November 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm

your comment actually made me cry Lyn
I think you and some others here are implying that we have somehow turned our back on Scotland, just because we have to live somewhere else to work.
You say that you "would like this once in a life time historic vote to come from the citizens of Scotland" – so would I.
A look in the dictionary would show that "expat" is someone who is temporarily displaced from their land – we don't stop being Scottish and fiercely proud of being so close to independence just because we moved house.


Brian Galloway October 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I'm a 'diaspora' scot, and have been for 40 years. In the 'smoke' all that time. I feel passionate about Scotland, Britain, London and am extremely proud to be 'British'. I want to vote as I was born, raised, went thro the fab education system, went to Dundee Art College, so feel that I am fully entitled to vote, to see it from an objective point of view.

Let us Diaspora Scots Vote !!!!!


Dianne March 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Scotland will always be where my heart is. but through work I am unable to live there. I still have a home in Scotland to return to, but am prevented from voting. I hope the legal case for expats being able to vote, overturns Mr Salmond’s refusal, I truly believe we have a right to a say in determining the future of our country.


MIllar Reid September 21, 2014 at 9:49 am

Scottish Expats. If only we would have been given the our birthright to vote the outcome could have been so so different. We are a proud nation and promote Scottishness all over the globe no matter where we roam. For me I am saddened at the result. The choice has been made but for me and many thousands more Flower of Scotland will always be in my heart. Well Done Alex Salmond you have taken Scotland further than anyone before you


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