Speaking in a Scottish Parliament debate yesterday, Christina McKelvie MSP and Convenor of the Parliamentary Committee on the EU, accused PM David Cameron of ‘gerrymandering’ the vote.
Ms McKelvie said: “I find it incomprehensible that citizens of the commonwealth countries in Africa, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Cyprus, Malta who live in the UK should be allowed to vote while those whose nationality is so much nearer to home are denied it. Perhaps Mr Cameron is gauging feeling about free trade in the Commonwealth without the EU. Shedding an open market of 500 million people in favour of the limited opportunities that are of course already in place amongst Commonwealth countries seems a very perverse kind of choice to make.
“This whole picture is illogical, insulting and looks rather like gerrymandering the result. Those who live and work here, wherever in the EU they happen to come from, might be considered to be a little more likely to vote to stay than some Tory euro-sceptics. Creating an electorate that tallies with your desired outcome is not part of modern-day democracy.”
She also stressed that the future lies with young people who are now 16 or 17 years old and that they have already proven their competence to voter in the Scottish Referendum: “Our young people, between the ages of 16 and 18, have known no existence outside the EU. The youngest were born in 1999, 25 years after the UK signed the Treaty of Rome. They are not familiar with living in the British Empire or Commonwealth; they have generally an assumption of their rights and protections as legislated by the EU so they take them for granted. And rightly so.
“Why would anyone feel that they need to question their right to an education, a safe place to live, not to be abused or trafficked, not to be raped or beaten up, to have access to a fair working week and a reasonable standard of living?
“Scotland’s young people voted in the referendum. Some voted against independence and many voted in favour. They voted because we in the Scottish Parliament believed in their fundamental right to do so. These are the people who will be responsible for the future and indeed for paying our pensions through their taxes.
“To deny them the opportunity of contributing a view on Scotland’s place in Europe is to remove a fundamental human right that will impact upon all their futures. I know many young people and I meet them continually. They express their views articulately and with commitment. They ask difficult questions and they demand answers. They campaign for their beliefs and they engage wholeheartedly in political discourse. That is why we need their participation. In that group are the MSPs and the MPs of the future.”