Should settled migrants be allowed to vote in all UK elections?

The issue of whether or not settled migrants should be allowed to vote in the UK is a topic of ongoing debate and discussion. 

Settled or “Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK. It’s also called ‘settlement’. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible. You can use it to apply for British citizenship.” Although we have the right to live, work and study, we do not have the right to fully participate in civic society, namely by being disenfranchised (deprived of the right to vote).

While there are valid arguments on both sides of the voting issue, there is evidence to suggest that granting voting rights to settled migrants could have a number of potential benefits.

One argument in favor of allowing settled migrants to vote is that it would help to promote greater inclusion and participation in the democratic process. The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, as extensively researched this theme. The Observatory states that settled migrants are a diverse and growing segment of the UK population, and granting us the right to vote would help to ensure that our voices are heard and our interests are represented. This, in turn, could help to foster a greater sense of belonging and integration among migrant communities and non-migrant (native) communities..

Allowing settled migrants to vote could help  increase our engagement with ALL aspects of UK society. The Institute for Public Policy Research has studies which show that migrant communities who are granted voting rights tend to be more active and engaged in civic life, and are more likely to volunteer and participate in community organisations.

However, there are also concerns about the potential drawbacks of allowing settled migrants to vote. Some argue that voting should be reserved for citizens who have made a commitment to the country by becoming naturalized, and that granting voting rights to non-citizens could dilute the power of citizens and undermine the democratic process. This is partially the discussion that Labour and Conservative parties are having now.

It’s nevertheless interesting that a country with such a diverse society, with a significant number of government elected representatives having a migrant background themselves, shows such low support for migrant rights!.

The decision of whether or not to allow settled migrants to vote in the UK should not only be a matter for policymakers and the broader political community to decide, Civil Society should have a say too. 

There will always be pros and cons on allowing us full civic participation, there will always be moral and economic ground for both arguments, but a serious, unbiased and critical  discussion should be had by all agents of society.

As noted by the Migration Observatory, there are a number of different ways that voting rights could be extended to settled migrants, and any decision would need to be carefully considered in light of the potential benefits and drawbacks, and, afterall, consider how fair “taxation without representation” is, i.e. full obligations, partial rights.

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Some Migrant organisations, studies, reports below:

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