Saturday, 30 November 2013

citizen holes?

"Any person who at present is entitled to British citizenship for any reason of Scottish background, will be entitled to Scottish citizenship." - is this the case?

And indeed: "Any person born after 1983 who would have been entitled to it if born before 1983".(When Britain made its rules viciously worse allowing itself to exclude kids born here to non-citizen parents.)

This is the simple statement the Yes campaign needs to make to prevent there being any gaps or loopholes in the description of citizenship in the White Paper. Voters could campaign for this statement, to the Yes campaign and our MSPs of Yes supporting parties. With this on simple statement, any flaws and loopholes anyone finds in the table of proposed citizenship criteria in the White Paper, which you can find at the end of chapter 7, will be automatically solved.

Without this, the campaign could be thrown away by any loophole found. If it was shown that any Scots from the diaspora were going to find it harder to belong to their own country when it is its own state than they are under the Union, bang would go the moral and anti-racist case for statehood which is based so strongly on reacting against the present frightening racist drift in British politics.

The references to parents who qualify for Scottish citizenship are a sloppily worded loophole that badly needs clarifying by making the statement proposed. The table is worded in the present tense, implying the parents qualify now hence are alive now, and if one of the possible qualifiers is to live in Scotland on independence day, then it implies being alive on the day. However, the question what if parents who met all the proposed citizenship critieria at the time of their deaths had died before independence day, is answered in question 379 of the question section at the end of the White Paper. Only when you see that do you see how it removes a danger there would be from reading only the table literally as it is written. For someone who would need their forbear's residence on the day as affecting whether the forbear was a potential citizen, the danger of a loophole is certainly still right in there, for from the wording it is not clear whether a parent who died before the day is considered for which country they were intending to live in on the day, and what if they died before their intended move?

The White Paper's wording suggests the SNP has not listened to anyone or learned anything since it was tripped up by Labour in the 1999 election over defining citizenship in much this way: a Labour broadcast that said, if you move to Newcastle and have a child, will they automatically be a citizen? no, they will have to apply.

The White Paper has messed up here, also in describing as automatic the citizenship of all the non-Scots living around the world with no connection with Scotland who but who chanced to be born here. It is an obvious fact that they will not become citizens against their will of a state they don't live in or want anything to do with. Obviously only if they register their existence will they be citizens. This means in practice the position for them is the same as for Scots born in exile and returning from it through their parents'/grandparents' etc. It is bad that for hastily written rhetorical purposes it has not been worded the same, when sat down and reasoned on it amounts to the same in practice. The White Paper's questions section seems to say it is for an international law reason so that they will be our citizens rather than stateless, but again, logically that should apply the same to both groups.

It is good, though, that the word "register", which means taking up a right, has been used, rather than "apply" which would imply the possibility of a no. But the inconsistent arrangement as described in the White Paper has allowed some of the papers, describing it, to use the word "apply" and frighten voters by it.

A much worse example of racial mischief features in the right wing Spectator's article on the White Paper. Its its list of what it contrives to present as surprise developments, under citizenship it says: "It had been assumed that only those living in Scotland at the time of independence would become citizens of the new Scotland. It has now emerged that Scottish citizenship will be an awful lot wider than that. The White Paper reveals that anybody who was born in Scotland can become a Scottish citizen and have a Scottish passport. Not only that, but all those with a Scottish parent or grandparent could become citizens of the new Scotland too."

"It had been assumed" by who exactly? Only by said Spectator itself. Never has it been suggested at any point in the campaign that Scots living in economic exile who can move back now within the Union would suddenly cease to be able to move back. No national liberation that would be. Only mischievous appealers to the racist vote would conceive the thought.

On the question of whether anybody who was born in Scotland can become a Scottish citizen, rhetoric had always suggested it but the White Paper is cagier than that and is actually CONTRADICTORY! The potential Scottish or British citizenship eligibilities that your parents or grandparents had are involved in the tables of different categories of opportunity to register, including for folks born here. Though it is good that this means the White Paper is at odds with birthplace racism, it would be bad enough to blow the whole Yes campaign apart if loopholes are found that exclude anyone with a background here that could be registered through their birthplace, from citizenship and being able to live here. Hence the need for a simple policy statement as suggested above, to keep the position clear and just. The contradiction is between question 379, which says citizenship by descent would require a parent or grandparent to have been born here, and the table, which does not say that and just says those forbears needed to qualify to be citizens, which could be in other ways than birth.

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