Britain’s European Affair

Languages_of_EuropeAgnieszka Karasiewicz is a European citizen living and working in Scotland. This is her response to Cameron’s referendum disenfranchisement which means that someone from Zimbabwe or Malta can vote, provided they have the right paperwork, but those from Belgium or Poland can’t.

After the results of general elections earlier on this month I believed that Britain was on its sure way towards intelligent governance. With the important and necessary movement of the SNP into Westminster this country saw a glimpse of balancing itself out. Scotland as a holder of the collective masculine energy (mind, ether, innovation) had been dominated by England (holder of the feminine energy – wealth, practicality, materialism) for too long. The moment this imbalance has a chance to even itself out David Cameron makes a decision which is below reason but certainly sits comfortably within the spectrum of his upper class conditioning. Intelligent governance is perhaps not for Britain to deliver.

I respect Mr Cameron for his consistency and commitment with regards to trimming migrant numbers – it certainly is a way towards healthy boundaries and perhaps taking a little bit more control over the all so vague statistics. His intention of initiating reform of European Union is also grounded but because it is based on self-interest the chances are poor that the changes proposed will be sustainable or suitable for the greater good. Hardly surprising since Mr Cameron will struggle to keep ‘his own’ Kingdom united – his decision about barring foreigners from voting in the EU referendum is a sign of his own power leakage and despair. He shot himself in the foot. Together with Britain as we know it and its convoluted, it seems, democracy.

Of course the whole affair is controversial especially as within a category of ‘foreigners’ the decision who can vote or cannot is pretty random. Many will leave before the vote and more will arrive and European Union will make decisions for Europe regardless of Britain’s choices. At this stage I am more concerned how Scotland manages through this to be recognised in Europe as an autonomous country. For whatever our feelings about the issue might be it cannot be denied that David Cameron has opened yet another gateway for Scotland to re-define itself alongside the Scottish borders.

It is only natural and it would be inconsiderate not to take this opportunity. England’s situation with migration and immigration is very different to that of Scotland’s. England has 53 million people, according to some sources 7.5 million are migrants. It’s easy to understand Cameron’s decision based on the numbers and his agenda for Europe. Scotland however is a country of 5.3 million of people of which, according to Herald Scotland, approx. 369, 284 are foreigners and attitudes here are very different. We are valued and supported, many of us feel at home here which only partly has to do with economy. For England we might be a nuisance whose voice to ignore, in Scotland we are an asset to celebrate.

In 2013 I decided to seriously look at becoming a British citizen. After 10 years of working diligently perhaps there was indeed some extra benefit in holding a British passport. There are several criteria but applying is only possible after one had passed a test of knowledge. There is a preparatory book you need to be learning from for the test, entitled Life in The United Kingdom, a Guide for New Resident. It was a great test of patience ploughing through it. It is really a bigger marketing pamphlet, this book. Knowing the realities of living in the UK reading the skewed version was both enlightening and amusing, especially the last chapter.

On page 123 of the manual one is informed that on becoming a British citizen they will be asked to take an oath. It reads:

” I (name) swear by Almighty God that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law. “

After reading this sentence I sighed deeply and put the book down, never to look at it again. I could never consciously say such words or commit to such an oath. The Brits don’t go through the process of vowing – they are born into the state, they inherit the subservience in their psyche. But no truly sovereign individual could ever be the subject of another, in any way, shape or form. He will not make himself a subject to any group, ideology, his own ideas, opinions, or doubts and he might have many.

I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time but the decision had been made in my heart. Whatever it meant for my status; missed financial opportunities, social disadvantage, forced leave from UK further down the line, there was no way I would be applying for British citizenship. I was going to wait for the Scottish one.

European Union certainly has to change, the model worked for an alliance of 15 countries but its form, purpose and goals became totally misaligned after new members joined in 2004. Mr Cameron is right to ask for reforms. But how can a party which excludes itself influence decisions for those who are included? As a foreigner who has been living in UK since 2003 I cannot see how Britain can continue in a similar fashion and re-vive the power it once held. Perhaps it is time for Scotland to take the reign of its horse and guide it to a new territory. Maybe it is in fact this country which will introduce intelligent governance to the rest of the world.

 

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Comments (26)

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  1. bringiton says:

    I couldn’t agree more.
    QE11 is only QE11 of England (QE1 of Scots in Scotland) so that makes us Scots foreigners as well.
    I suppose that also means we are not her subjects.
    All that should be required of Scottish citizenship is an agreement to uphold our laws.

  2. manandboy says:

    Agnieszka, thank you for writing this post. I enjoyed it very much and sympathised with you throughout. Your judgement is sound , your instincts true. In choosing Scotland, you have come to the right place, though in t&c’s that could be mitigated by where you live and work.

    I hope you will continue to stay here and be happy and prosper in doing so. May you always be welcomed.

    You have introduced a new idea to the political discourse – intelligent governance. For the foreseeable future, you will only find that in Scotland. There is intelligence in Westminster, but I can see it mainly being used in the pursuit of wealth by the ruling classes, and little in the proper governance of the people. Unless exploitation is another word for governance.

    Cheers.

  3. peter russell says:

    thank you agnieszka. a very interesting post. but i can’t help feeling that home rule for england in europe could look a lot like home rule for scotland in britain. if that’s what people want, of course:

    http://wp.me/p2uah0-aC

  4. dunderheid says:

    My sympathy for your situation is limited in that you could have had the possibility to vote but chose on principle not to…

    If it matters I am Scottish but living and working in France but unlike yourself would have no desire to involve myself in any French referendum on EU membership

  5. Darby O'Gill says:

    Very well said.
    I’d like to drop the use of the word ‘foreigner’ and leave it to the pop group of the same name. It has the hint of stigma about it. Besides, I have never felt like a ‘foreigner’ in any of the 40 or so countries I’ve visited
    I prefer ‘visitor’ for tourist and ‘newcomer’ for anyone who wants make a home here. A newcomer can be a Polish Scot, Italian Scot or whatever, a soubriquet explaining their place of origin and place of choice.

  6. MBC says:

    But EU nationals can’t vote in general elections, can they? Only local elections. I understand that the referendum on Europe is classified as being ‘national’ rather than local, and that is the reason for EU citizens not being eligible to vote. The Scottish referendum was however viewed in law as a local affair – since we aren’t formally recognised by the EU or UK or anybody else as a sovereign nation.

  7. Agnieszka Karasiewicz says:

    Thanks very much everyone for all your comments and feedback, it is appreciated. I certainly agree with Darby re ‘foreigners’ – a new language is called for. manandboy – by intelligent governance I mean a self-regulating democracy based on principles of a win-win, balanced cooperation rather than any ‘governance’ as we know it today. Scotland is undergoing a profound transformation and if it manages it well it could become a pioneering template for other European countries to re-balance and lift themselves from the current outdated structures. The idea sits within a wider context of my understanding which you can read a little bit more about on http://www.karasiewicz.co.uk. Thank you again, Agnieszka

  8. leavergirl says:

    “Agnieszka … is a European citizen.” Is this what it’s all sunk into? Will Scots one day be referred to as “European citizens”? Bland, cosmopolitan, deracinated. Ugh.

  9. HerewardAwake! says:

    Agnieskza, you are quite right. The UK urgently needs a proper written constitution to sweep away the hotch-potch of tradition, drivel, ritual, cross-dressing, fancy-dressing, wind, waffle and flannel that is passed off on the British public as an ‘uncodified constitution’ – now you see it, now you don’t! The very requirement to affirm is claimed to trace back to 1215 and the Magna Carta but is now only applied to certain officials, servants and new citizens, apparently.

    Its all part of an elegant and stately ritual dance designed to conceal that behind the curtains The Lords and Ladies of the Manor are having a merry time getting their hands on as much of the buffet as possible before the dancers arrive. Every now and then a carrot or two are tossed out to keep them quiet, but otherwise nothing much happens. It is to be hoped that recent events will lead to the collapse of certain stout parties and the creation of a proper nation-state or, indeed, nation-states. That is long overdue. And as regards disenfranchisement, Agnieskza, I’m sure your views are shared by the hundreds of thousands of long-term British expatriates in the EU who are also being denied a vote in a referendum the result of which will directly impinge on them and their way of life. The Lords and Ladies have been playing these games for a very long time!

  10. Broadbield says:

    Agnieszka, can I echo the comments from others re your contribution and hope you continue to enjoy living in Scotland.

    The forthcoming referendum (and the decision on those eligible to vote) is a symptom of a wider failure by our political “leaders”. Politicians of the UK parties no longer “lead”, they read the Daily Mail and Telegraph and then decide what are the issues. They stoop to the lowest common denominator, as we see when ever they discuss immigration. To put this in some context, a quick Google shows that Germany has around 20% immigrants while the UK has 11.9%, yet it is British politicians and press which announce the end of civilisation as we know it.

    Instead of standing up and arguing for policies which are fair, equitable, progressive, redistributionist, which rebalance bipartisan relationships which have been so skewed in favour of one of the parties, such as between landlord and tenant or between worker and employer, the pigmy politicians of the UK parties fight to see who can be most populist by appealing to the basest of our instincts. They will not argue honestly for social justice, only hypocritically dress-up their repressive policies to the extent that they think it will win them votes.

    Personally, I was proud when Nicola Sturgeon called for an end to austerity and an increase in public spending. Unfortunately, she was speaking to the economic illiterates in the Tory and Labour parties who seem to have no understanding of what their policies are doing. I hope she continues to lead.

  11. Abhijit Kumar says:

    Every country has its own ideology which differs from one country to another. Hence, pattern of living styles, citizen rights and voting systems may differ in Scotland and Britain.

  12. Penny says:

    I am an EU citizen and have lived and worked in the UK for 27 years and cannot vote; someone who was born in Malta 25 years ago, grew up and was educated in the US and has lived here 6 months can vote.

    Upwards of 4 million EU citizens have been resident in the UK for 5 years or more.

    The decision to disenfranchise all of us breaks the spirit if not the letter of EU law on free movement of people.

  13. Neil says:

    If you want EU reform, maybe you should campaign to reform the EU law that EU citizens are allowed to vote in local, municipal, and EU elections. I think that usually only national citizens get to vote in general elections and referendums (that is the case in Denmark, and the UK for example – and probably most places).

    Until then, if you want to vote in a general election or a UK referendum, you will need to bite the bullet, do the very silly test, stump up the cash, answer whether you have committed war crimes (for real), and swear allegiance to the monarchy (they are the UK state – so that one is not really surprising). I would regard the main problem is that it costs a lot of money – the other silly stuff I could deal with.

  14. Patty Morton says:

    I can honestly sympathise. I have lived in Scotland for 35 years. I travel in and out and past the UK Boarder Staff clutching 4 passports. The oldest one has my all important “indefinite leave to remain” stamp on it. I endure the cold hard stares, the snide remarks and the downright rude ones. I have developed elephant hide for these occasions, and my ever patient husband is resigned to the fact that it will always take us a little longer to get where we are going. And so be it! I cannot bring myself to sell my soul to the devil for the sake of a maroon booklet that makes me slightly more “equal” than most. I had so hoped that the Scottish Referendum would change all that. I live, breath, love and work in Scotland, it is my second home. Scotland, not Britain, Scotland, Escocia.

    1. Agnieszka says:

      Patty – thank you for your heartfelt sharing and bringing the reality of attitudes to light. May your Soul be faithful to its discernment – next time when we are given a chance to vote the polls might give us a more realistic results rather than those driven by emotions of elation or fear which were flying very high in September 2014. When we are properly educated in any given matter we tend to make more grounded and conscious choices. We are sowing seeds of a new reality, with a little patience and united voice, they are bound to grow and manifest on every level of social experience. That is my sincere hope, that no passports will ever hold the power to define what equality is.

  15. Agnieszka Karasiewicz says:

    Thank you all again for your contribution and valuable insights. To expand a little on the ‘randomness’ of Cameron’s choices as to who ‘is allowed’ to vote in the EU referendum. These can be seen as such only from a point of view of democracy. Cameron’s choices are well thought through to exclude nations of Europe but include those of Commonwealth, an attempt to re-vive and re-establish power alongside the lines of the old regime/structure. Underneath it is really and issue between UK and Germany, history disguised in new circumstances. Fascinating how family affairs drag when not acknowledged.

    Otherwise, sociocracy and direct democracy are still closest to my heart and my soul will always gravitate towards those nation states which reflect my own sovereignty, values and hopes for an intelligent world. For the time being I shall refrain from biting any bullets. Who knows, perhaps one day we will all be granted a honorary Scottish citizenship for a job well done, for a nation well built.

  16. Iain G Richmond says:

    On British citizenship I find your attitude not only a bit puzzling but also arrogant and contemptuous.

    Surely Citizenship requires a certain amount of respect and allegiance by you towards the constitution of the State and your fellow citizens. The same respect of your constitutional rights as an individual will be reciprocated by the State to you. That’s the deal. I think you’ll find this situation anywhere you wish to become a citizen. You can’t expect to run with the Hare and hunt with the Hounds!

    The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 1999 that the oath of allegiance to a reigning monarch is “reasonably viewed as an affirmation of loyalty to the constitutional principles which support… the workings of representative democracy in the respondent State.”

    Since 1 January 2004, applicants for British citizenship are also required, in addition to swearing the oath or affirmation of allegiance, to make a pledge to the United Kingdom as follows:

    “I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen”

    Your woefully ignorant presumption that British citizens somehow have subservience in their Psyche is insulting and risible. Like many foreigners in the past, you completely misunderstand and underestimate us.
    Look at British history…..Magna Carta for example. Although the original 1215 charter had concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of ordinary people, the charter remains a powerful, iconic document.
    Magna Carta still forms an important symbol of liberty today, often cited by politicians and campaigners, and is held in great respect. Lord Denning describing it as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”

    Take one of the Clauses from Magna Carta that still exists in English Law which I think their is little indication of ‘subservience’….

    “XXIX. NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right”….No subservience there then !!

    From the Magna Carta came the creation of Parliament in 1237. A Charter for Human Rights 1354 and peasants revolt 1361, Kett rebellion 1549 and Anti- Corn Law riots 1816 and Swing Riots in 1830, Rights for Women 1907, Establishment of Trade Unions etc., etc., show little subservience of the British people to heavy handed authority.

    Throughout our history we have fought, often bitterly, for the rights of citizens. We fought a civil war against the Devine right of Kings (Charles I) We fought against slavery and stood alone against Nazism when the rest of Europe went belly up.

    We have the Mother of all Parliaments where the Monarch is Head of State, where the People offer allegiance to the Monarch but have the Democratic power to make any changes we choose. No other Country in the World has done more to uphold human rights and dignity than Great Britain and respect for us in these areas is Universal.

    If you wish to accept the security, freedoms, privileges and the benefits of living in our society under the protection of our laws, then it would seem perfectly alright that you should offer something in return.

    Millions of people throughout the World would gladly risk their lives to live in our Country and accept the conditions of citizenship……… I concede that I would have more respect for them than for you.

    You obviously haven’t a clue what it is to be British…….Best remain what you are !

    1. David Boddie says:

      What a reply! I could almost hear Land of Hope and Glory playing in the background as I read it. As to the millions of people who would risk their lives to live in the UK, it’s such a shame that so few of them make it here and so many of those are turned away.

      1. Iain G Richmond says:

        You heard incorrectly. I like ‘Land of hope and Glory’ but it is just wee bit jingoistic for me at times.

        More inspiring and appropriate if you recall William Blake’s poem ‘Jerusalem’……particularly the last stanza.

        “I will not cease from Mental Fight,
        Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
        Till we have built Jerusalem,
        In England’s green & pleasant Land”

        The name ‘Jerusalem’ of course, is used as a metaphor for Heaven, a place of universal love and peace.

        I’m also moved and inspired by another poem, this by Robert Burns….

        “Then let us pray that, come it may,
        (As come it will for all that)
        That Sense and Worth o’er all the earth
        Shall bear the gree and all that.
        For all that and all that,
        It’s coming yet for all that,
        That Man to Man the world o’er
        Shall brothers be for all that.”

        As a ‘One Nation Tory’ I’m perfectly comfortable with the sentiments of both Poems.

        There’s a deep vein of decency running through the British Psyche. Agnieszka just doesn’t get it.

        And I suspect that neither do you.

        1. Maybe the Hate Van doesn’t help us ‘get it’?

          1. Iain G Richmond says:

            Eh ??

          2. The Hate Van Iain – you know this one: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/22/go-home-vans-scrapped-failure ?

            Or maybe Dungavel – were these examples of our wonderful multiculturalism and tolerance?

        2. Patty Morton says:

          There is probably no need for all the righteous arrogance. The author of this article made a fair point, it is their experience and their opinion. I might add, I am in the same boat. I make the same observations. I do not think any offence was levelled at the citizens of this country. I think there are many wonderful attributes, some mentioned already, and of course room for improvement. I think it is very sad that the peoples of the European Union resident in the UK will not have vote in the Referendum that will define whether you stay or you leave. It is shortsighted. Those that feel strongly about it will examine their conscience and decide whether or not they will pay up their dues to the UK government and so purchase the privilege to have a vote. Some will not, for all sorts of reasons.

          1. Iain G Richmond says:

            Patty…

            I’m pro-EU (Luke warm) I voted to join it over 42 years ago and membership has had little discernible negative effect on my life though I’m sure there has been some good aspects that have probably passed me by. I haven’t decided how to vote just yet, for the in or out arguments are not clear to me. Right now it seems to me to be a storm in a teacup. However things may change as the issues become clearer. Without all the facts to hand, if you asked me how I’d vote today it would probably be to remain within the EU.

            I lived in Germany for 4 years, was married there and my son was born there. I’ve studied in Germany and Sweden and have travelled extensively throughout Europe over many decades. My son works here alongside Poles and Slovaks very satisfactorily. The bitter experiences that my family endured through two European wars, for me at least, definitely makes the case for Union rather than separation.

            I can’t help comparing the oldest and most successful Union of Nations in history to that of Europe. It is of course the Union of Scotland, England, N Ireland and Wales. This amazingly successful Union of Nations in peace, toleration and mutual respect is surely what a modern Europe must aspire to. It has survived intact through many trials simply because we’ve had the will to adapt and evolve to meet changing circumstances. I feel that this is what David Cameron is now asking the European leaders to do, and that’s to change and evolve (It’s a sobering thought that anyone under 58 years old has never had a vote on whether they agree or not with European Union). We have, in the British experience, a natural instinct for this process honed over 300 years to preserve a Union which has endured the test of time.

            Any Union of Nations requires compromise, a loss of sovereignty to a certain extent and tolerance. Separatists, like the SNP have none of these attributes. They are parochial, xenophobic ( whatever their protestation) and insular by nature. They seem wedded to the idea of a Union, not with one which has been exceptionally successful and where they have huge influence but to join one which to date has not been particularly successful and where they’d have almost no influence……..odd !

            To return to Agnieszka’s article…. I read it again and of the same opinion. Couched in psycho-babble, she unequivocally suggests that we Brits are born subservient and unable to form ‘Intelligent Government’. What unmitigated nonsense.

            She and presumably you came to our country for a better life and you’re welcome here, believe me. But don’t think you can have your cake and eat it by suggesting that somehow we would accept a lesser pledge of loyalty to our country because it doesn’t fit into your philosophy. That’s fine by me if that’s what you think, but don’t bellyache when your demands are not met. If you think you’re a special case, well forget it….you are not.

            I do not think for one moment that if, in the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU, that you will be required to leave our country. That’s just ridiculous ! Sure, the requirements for residence and working here may change and you will have clear choices.

            Agnieszka’ and yourself seem to have loathing for the United Kingdom, British citizenship and allegiance to this Nation while enjoying all the benefits and privileges of living here…a choice that you freely made.

            I find your attitude risible and incomprehensible. I suspect your attitude to an independent Scotland would be exactly the same.

          2. Patty Morton says:

            Iain, I am not bellyaching, and please do not presume that I come from another European Nation. I come from a very long line of Scottish and Irish Ancestors. I grew up in a small independent country where the Great British Empire sorted out the peasants and built railways, and Power Stations, and taught them how to play football and golf and rugby, oh, and founded Masonic Lodges and other fine upstanding institutions. Please dont dare tell me that I am bellyaching. I dont want to be a British citizen. I came here for many reasons, but not necessarily to have, how was it you put it, “a better life”. I still maintain that as is the case in my country, people who are resident, should be allowed to vote. That is all. Even if citizens of the EU were permitted to vote, I would not be able to. I am not bellyaching, I merely note and agree that the choices could be more inclusive.

    2. Agnieszka Karasiewicz says:

      British state is like Jimmy Saville – charity on the surface, rot underneath:

      “Oranges and Sunshine tells the story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham who uncovered one of the most significant social scandals of recent times: the deportation of thousands of children from the United Kingdom to Australia. Almost single-handedly, against overwhelming odds and with little regard for her own well-being, Margaret reunited thousands of families, brought authorities to account and drew worldwide attention to an extraordinary miscarriage of justice. Children as young as four had been told that their parents were dead, and been sent to children’s homes on the other side of the world. Many were subjected to appalling abuse. They were promised oranges and sunshine: they got hard labour and life in institutions. ”

      If you had enough awareness to listen to anyone else but yourself you’d be clear that Britain’s influence abroad is dwindling http://thediplomat.com/2015/05/britain-india-from-courted-to-courtier/ and with regards to Cameron’s evangelising in Europe, Joseph Stiglitz seems to share my views

      ‘And what of the UK’s future in Europe? Stiglitz is sceptical of David Cameron’s drive to secure reforms before a referendum on EU membership that is expected next year.

      “I don’t think you can expect to negotiate different terms,” he says. “If the UK does it, why not France or Italy? Everyone has distinct circumstances. One of the basic principles when you join a club is if everyone takes exception to everything then you don’t have a club.” ‘

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/joseph-stiglitz-interview-nobelprize-winning-economist-on-advising-scotland-on-its-future-10273492.html

      However I was impressed that you had spelt my name correctly. It could have been a tick for the Tories had you not been so vulgar. I remain proudly independent in Thought and continue to invest in Scotland.

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