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Can Obama take part in UK politics?
September 24, 2008 2:22 AM   Subscribe

Calling all UK political experts - my better half wants to know-if Obama doesn't make it to President as the USA, is he allowed to move to the UK and run as leader of a political party there?

And if he was allowed to do that, would he run for Labour or Lib Dems?
posted by Megami to Law & Government (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some answers are here.

He would have to wait a long time to even be able to vote, much less to stand for MP. It would be difficult for him to become PM.

All that aside, he's too far right to be a Lib Dem.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:41 AM on September 24, 2008


He would have to be a citizen, but yes, you do not need to be a naturally born UK citizen to be orime minister. Andrew Bonar Law was born in Canada, and there are many foreign-born members of Parliament and Lords.
posted by parmanparman at 3:11 AM on September 24, 2008


Could he claim Kenyan citizenship through his dad, and then stand? (Following chuckdarwin's link...)
posted by Helga-woo at 3:13 AM on September 24, 2008


He would need to pass the "Life in the UK Test". This makes sure that candidates are familiar with basic information known to all British citizens - such as "If you were staying in a house in Wales on New Years eve, what you expect to happen at midnight?"
posted by rongorongo at 4:42 AM on September 24, 2008


And, one has to wait seven years (or is it still five - please correct me) before one can stand for said test. I have to wait until 2010 or 2012 (not sure)... so it wouldn't be fast enough for any politician.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:43 AM on September 24, 2008


For those married to a British citizen the applicant must:

* hold indefinite leave to remain in the UK (or an "equivalent" (for this purpose) such as Right of Abode, Irish citizenship, or permanent residency as a citizen of an EU/EEA)
* have lived legally in the UK for three years
* be of "good character", as deemed by the Home Office (in practice the Home Office will carry out checks with the police and with other Government departments)
* show sufficient knowledge of life in the UK, either by passing the Life in the United Kingdom test or by attending combined English language and citizenship classes. Proof of this must be supplied with one's application for naturalisation. Exemption from this and the language requirement (see below) is normally granted for those aged 65 or over, and may be granted to those aged between 60 and 65
* meet specified English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language competence standards. Those who pass the Life in the UK test are deemed to meet English language requirements

For those not married to a British citizen the requirements are:

* five years legal residence in the UK
* indefinite leave to remain or "equivalent" for this purpose (see above) must have been held for 12 months
* the applicant must intend to continue to live in the UK or work overseas for the UK government or a British corporation or association
* the same "good character" standards apply as for those married to British citizens
* the same language and knowledge of life in the UK standards apply as for those married to British citizens

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_nationality_law
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:55 AM on September 24, 2008


But, reading this page, he doesn't need to be a UK citizen, he could be a Commonwealth citizen (but I can't get the Electoral Commission web page to work to get the finer details), maybe it would be an easier route for him?
posted by Helga-woo at 5:23 AM on September 24, 2008


"If you were staying in a house in Wales on New Years eve, what you expect to happen at midnight?"

That's a piss take right? But you linked to a real test. What the hell happens in Wales that is different to everywhere else?
posted by theyexpectresults at 7:45 AM on September 24, 2008


Indeed there are quite a few MPs at the moment who aren't British-born. Gisele Stuart is originally German and Peter Hain was origingally South African, off the top of my heard. Hain ran for deputy leader of the Labour Party, which could have made him deputy PM...

I think the obstacles would be political rather than legal!

I also wouldn't rule out his running as a left-wing Conservative in your hypothetical scenario. There are some Conservative MPs who are openly supporting Obama rather than McCain - its worth remembering that all UK political parties are in some ways more 'left wing' than their US counterparts. Can you imagine a UK Conservative banging on about evolution? Still Obama's probably closest to Blairite Labour than anything else...
posted by prentiz at 8:24 AM on September 24, 2008


That's a piss take right? But you linked to a real test. What the hell happens in Wales that is different to everywhere else?

I got this question from a revision book for the test which my wife had prior to taking it. The answer, apparently, was that you open the back door of the house on the first stoke of midnight and let out the old year and that you open the front door on the last stroke to let in the new year. [Would appreciate if an Welsh people can confirm that this is actually the case - I had never heard of it].

In fact I think some questions in the test are adapted to local areas - so I am guessing this would only be asked to somebody who sat the test in Wales. Finding test questions that most British people - and perhaps even Obama - would have no idea has been a popular feature in the UK press.
posted by rongorongo at 8:28 AM on September 24, 2008


The answer, apparently, was that you open the back door of the house on the first stoke of midnight and let out the old year and that you open the front door on the last stroke to let in the new year.

My friend's mom was born and raised in Ireland (near Dublin0, and she went through this door routine every New Year's Eve at midnight. We always thought it was just another goofy thing she did (she could be a bit eccentric); didn't know it was a tradition.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:31 AM on September 24, 2008


[Would appreciate if an Welsh people can confirm that this is actually the case - I had never heard of it].

I spent New Year in Wales once. We fired fireworks at the houses across the valley.
posted by vbfg at 9:48 AM on September 24, 2008


He would have to be a citizen, but yes, you do not need to be a naturally born UK citizen to be prime minister.

Any citizen of the Commonwealth may stand for election to the Commons.

I spent New Year in Wales once. We fired fireworks at the houses across the valley.

On the border with England, were you? ;)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:57 AM on September 24, 2008


speaking of which, and not to derrail terribly*, but does anybody know what these are? captionless posters of obama waving outside No. 10, currently to be seen at many a london train/tube station?

*ok i am, but i figure someone will provide a real quick answer...

posted by so_necessary at 12:19 PM on September 24, 2008


I think this would be an excellent idea for america. So, get all your US friends to vote for McCain and you can have Mr. 58 states
posted by TeachTheDead at 12:53 PM on September 24, 2008


Thanks for the answers folks
Any citizen of the Commonwealth may stand for election to the Commons.
Cool, so I don't have to wait to get Citizenship! (Australian citizen moving to the UK and planning on getting UK passport for me and the bairn)
Chuck - previously living in the UK I had indefinite leave to remain (accompanying a spouse with Right of Abode). This time the situation is going to be a bit different, but do you know if I have to still wait seven years to apply for citizenship regardless?
posted by Megami at 1:37 AM on September 25, 2008


If you are married to a UK citizen, it's three years... starting from when you re-enter, I imagine. So, 2011.

Here's the cool thing about this thread: it has taught me - or rather made me research harder and discover - that I can start becoming a citizen now.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:50 AM on September 25, 2008


Cool, so I don't have to wait to get Citizenship!

Exactly. Now, actually getting elected might be a bit more difficult ("I'm not voting for that bloody Aussie. Convicts, the lot of them."), but you may most certainly run for a seat in the Commons. I don't think that the same holds true for the devolved assemblies in Wales or Scotland, nor anything local--county or local council level.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:04 AM on September 25, 2008


Chuckdarwin, it is a little bit more complicated than him being a citizen, but I won't bore you. But hey, good luck on starting the citizen bit.

What DNBB, I thought being an Australian would be a plus - being all popular and just like Nicole/Cate/Kylie and all :)
posted by Megami at 1:04 AM on September 26, 2008


Bore away. Srsly.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:56 AM on September 27, 2008


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