Liberal Democrats have expressed delight at the news that the notorious ‘Go Home’ vans are to be withdrawn. Home Secretary Theresa May admitted that they “not been a good idea” and were a “blunt instrument”.
.@chrisshipitv: “Home Sec Theresa May will confirm within the hour that the controversial “Go Home” vans will be SCRAPPED” We did it!
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) October 22, 2013
Rushing for World at One and then 5 Live to talk about the Go Home Vans. They should never have been used; glad they won’t be again #fb
— Julian Huppert (@julianhuppert) October 22, 2013
One appalling aspect of this shameful episode is the claim by the Conservatives that they are halting the project simply because the vans were ineffective in persuading illegal immigrants to leave the country.
They still do not admit the offence that was caused to people who were legitimately in the UK; they do not recognise the implicit racism of the message; they do not understand the damage they were causing to community relations. No, they are withdrawing the vans because they did not ‘work’.
We had already learnt that the savings involved in just a handful of returnees, compared with the cost of expelling them, would have justified their existence. The implication is that the Conservatives would have rolled out the project nationwide if just a few people had volunteered for repatriation (instead of just one), irrespective of their impact on individuals and whole communities.
* Mary Reid is the Tuesday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.