From Privileged to Thwarted Stakeholders - Polish Migrants' Perceptions of the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014 and the UK General Election in 2015.

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 4C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Derek MCGHEE, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Scotland in 2014 and 2015 provides an ideal context for examining the tensions surrounding EU-citizenship political rights (as established in the Maastricht Treaty of 1993) from the perspective of EU migrants living outside of their state of citizenship. In this paper we focus on the perspective of Polish migrants in Scotland (Poles are Scotland's largest foreign-born migrant group). We argue that the contrast between Polish  Migrants’ full enfranchisement in the Scottish Independence Referendum (EU-migrants were permitted to vote in this sub-national referenda) in 2014 to being disenfranchised from the UK General Election in 2015 (EU migrants are not permitted to vote in national or general elections or national referenda) is a significant site for observing the articulation of migrant political subjectivities and the constitution of citizenship(s). Our participants’ citizenship is constituted in terms of both subjective (horizontal) and also formal (vertical) registers of citizenship with regard to: (a) justifying their political rights in terms of their current and future stake and contribution in the UK; (b) their frustrations with regards to anti-migration rhetoric and the limitations of EU political rights (e.g. being disenfranchised from general elections and national referenda such as the Brexit Referendum); and for some, (c) their plans for applying for British citizenship in the context of the UK's EU membership uncertainty.

This paper is based on qualitative research funded under the Economic and Social Research Council Centre for Population Change. We conducted two stages of individual interviews with Polish migrants (between 21 and 63 years living in Glasgow and Edinburgh), the first stage before the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014 and the second stage, with a sample of stage one interviewees before the UK General Election in 2015.