Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 216: Taxation without Representation and Hanging Parliament

Over 200 years ago, my political forefathers complained of being taxed by the British Parliament without representation. They dumped tea, painted their faces, and boycotted imported goods which were taxed. Had they not thrown such an expensive fit, not only would they have eventually received what they wanted, but I would have been able to vote in last week's general British election to decrease my taxes.

I was permitted to accompany two friends to see them vote last week. My friends from Canada, Australia, and any other commonwealth country which politely asked for independence (rather than fight for it) but who still recognize the queen were also able to vote, in addition to resident EU members (odd). This, in addition to being told by my old home voting precinct in Utah (from five years ago - U.S. law permits DC residents to maintain voting rights via absentee ballot from their previous state of residence so they don't lose representation in Congress) over Easter break that I couldn't vote there, either, had me feeling rather left out.

It was an educational experience to witness another country's democratic experiment in action. Lovely mature ladies in hats and working professionals in suits lined up during lunch at the dilapidated Anglican church where the East Oxford 'ward' was permitted to vote. I did wonder if this is where my Church derived the name for its congregational units (wards), but, more importantly, couldn't help but think how odd it would be (I can see the pickets in protests now) in the U.S. to have people vote in a church. People would rise up in protest, claiming an unconstitutional endorsement of religion in violation of the First Amendment. Yet here, where there is no legal separation of church and state and where churches are all too sadly becoming more historical centers than religious places of worship, it makes much practical sense. In towns too tiny to maintain any other 'public' building, there is always sure to be a parish church. Convenient for voting.

People and especially the media seemed surprised by the conservative vote. It almost seemed socially unacceptable in the circles I traverse to want any change besides liberal democrat leadership, yet there it was, people voting (at least within striking distance of London) with their pocket books. Where in America poor economic circumstances prompted a more liberal change, here it produced the opposite result.

We'll see if the current negotiations between conservatives and liberal democrats produces any kind of tax relief for my husband and myself. It certainly would be change I can believe in, and make up for the fact that I still, because of unpleasantries so long ago, have British taxation without representation...

1 comment:

  1. Your EU resident friends would have been able to vote in the Local Elections (for local government and councillors) but not in the General Election (for the actual government). This is the same for any EU resident (the UK included) in any EU country in which they are resident.