We know that Liberal Democrats within the Government have said that there will be no repetition of the Go Home poster vans which were sent to drive round certain boroughs in London.
We also know that there will be no repetition of the Go home posters displayed in the Glasgow UKBA office, again thanks to Liberal Democrats within the coalition. Sadly, though, these posters have not been taken down as some asylum seekers I met earlier this week at the Liberal Democrat Seekers of Sanctuary fringe meeting on Monday were able to verify on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Nico, from Zimbabwe, told us that when he saw the posters he felt like he wasn’t welcome in this country.
How good would it be if these posters could be taken down early? They only have two weeks to go, but that’s two weeks too long in my opinion.
We know that Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, wrote a strongly worded letter to Home Secretary Theresa May asking for the posters to be taken down. I believe the word “distasteful” was used. A measure of the strength of feeling is that Scottish leader Willie Rennie has, unusually, signed an SNP MSP’s motion on the subject. Lord Greaves has also made known his feelings on the subject to the Home Office.
The Liberal Democrats for seekers of sanctuary fringe was very well attended. We enjoyed a delicious Indian buffet in the India Quay restaurant. We heard from several people who have fled persecution to come to this country. Nico, mentioned above, came here from Zimbabwe at the age of 25 in 2000. His case has been going on for so long that the Zimbabweans can’t trace him on their identity database which was set up after he left. This has led the Home Office to refuse his application for asylum. Currently, he’s waiting to be evicted from his flat as he isn’t entitled to live there even though he’s appealing the decision. Imagine not knowing from one day to the next if you are going to have a roof over your head. Nico has no income, is not allowed to work and has to rely on charity for food.
I also spoke to Khalil who was granted leave to remain. He’s been in the UK for two years and was destitute and homeless to begin with. He was a human rights journalist in Kurdistan and told me how, after 10 people were killed and over 400 injured at a pro Tunisia/Egypt rally during the Arab Spring, he fled. Initially his application for asylum was refused because he was told that he could go and live in Basra or Baghdad.
The meeting also heard from Roger Roberts who compelled us to speak up for those people. He had also produced a leaflet which he asked us to distribute. Called Setting the Record Straight,it takes down some of the most popular misconceptions and myths surrounding migration. There is an accompanying Facebook page and Twitter account.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings