Glencoe woman is barred from referendum vote
A COMMUNITY councillor who has lived in Glencoe for half a century says she is being treated like an alien after finding out she is ineligible to vote on Scotland’s future.
Victoria Sutherland, 72, has a Scottish mother and has lived in Glencoe for 50 years. There, she and her husband, Alister, a Scottish lawyer and the current community council chairman, brought up three children as British citizens, and run a business, Glencoe Cottages, renting holiday accommodation to tourists.
But when only her husband’s voting card arrived in the post two months ago, Mrs Sutherland was shocked to discover she could not vote in the upcoming EU referendum on June 23, because, she said, she is an EU citizen domiciled in Britain.
Citizens from EU countries – apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus – will not get a vote. Mrs Sutherland told The Oban
Times: ‘I can’t register. I’m being treated like an alien.’
The Glencoe and Glen Etive community councillor said: ‘I have a Danish father and a Danish passport.
‘I’m a patriotic Dane, and a Scot, too – I have a Scottish mother and a proud Scottish ancestry. I don’t want to give up my Danish citizenship: the Danes are as keen on their nation as the Scots are.
‘Since September 21, I have been able to apply for dual nationality, but I didn’t think it was necessary. I was allowed to vote in Scotland’s independence referendum, so I automatically assumed I’d be able to vote in the EU referendum.’
She is also able to vote in local government and Scottish Parliament elections, she said.
Commonwealth citizens from 54 states, including Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Gibraltar, who live in the UK are eligible to vote.
‘It’s iniquitous,’ Mrs Sutherland added. ‘It’s very random: it seems to depend on what they had for breakfast.
‘Nobody’s pointed out how crazy it is. My Australian daughter-in-law can vote, but I can’t. Why can she? She has no economic interest. It’s not going to affect her future.’
Mrs Sutherland’s husband said a vote to leave the European Union would cause their tourism business, and others in Lochaber, to suffer.
He said: ‘A third of our customers and 100 per cent of our staff come from the continent. We can’t get people from the West Highlands to do this job, as much as we’d like to.’
Mrs Sutherland added: ‘ The tourist industry would be decimated if they had to go back, or it was made very difficult to stay.’
Ian Blackford, SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said: ‘It is daft that people like Mrs Sutherland, who live and work here, who make a full contribution and who is allowed to vote in Scottish elections, is not allowed to have a say, like the rest of us, on the future of the European Union.’
Disenfranchised – Victoria Sutherland has lived in Glencoe with her husband Alister for 50 years.