Tag Archives: immigration

‘I came from Bangladesh, the Government lost my passport and now I’m a Liberal Democrat’

The Plymouth Herald reports:

Voters in next month’s council election will be confronted by a host of new names – but none with a more fascinating story than the Liberal Democrat candidate for Efford.

Rafiqul Haque grew up in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, and came to the UK on a family holiday aged 14.

While they were here their home country elected a new government and their citizenship was revoked, rendering them effectively stateless.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Baroness Sally Hamwee writes…Another win for humanitarians in the Lords

I bumped into the Lords Home Office minister immediately after one of the Government’s socking defeats on the Trade Union Bill, consoling himself that losing by 17 in the vote on an Immigration Bill amendment time-limiting immigration detention was almost a victory.

But the Government lost – we won!  The amendment was led by crossbencher Lord Ramsbotham, who was Chief Inspector of Prisons and so knows whereof he speaks, supported by the Labour and the Liberal Democrat front benches: 63% of our peers voted compared with 46% of Labour’s.  Of course it may not stick.  The Bill will go back to the Commons where the Government could ping it straight back to the Lords (parliamentary ping-pong), or propose a compromise or changes ranging from the substantive to the technical (or accept it unchanged – but that almost never happens), but it cannot be ignored.

There is much to be said about immigration detention and the conditions in immigration removal centres.  I will simply note the paradox which causes detainees so much despair: You have no hope, as you don’t know when you might be released, and at the same time you have no certainty as you might in fact be released tomorrow.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes…The liberal challenge on immigration

It’s not often that regional elections in other European countries get much attention in our press, let alone become headline news. The fact that elections yesterday in a handful of German states made front pages here today demonstrates the unusual situation Britain and Europe find itself in. It also highlights the growing need for strong, liberal voices across our continent.

Those of you who heard my speech on Sunday, or in fact have heard me speak since I became leader, will hopefully have a sense of my beliefs on the refugee crisis and on the wider issue of immigration. Our government has tended to bury its head in the sand, but with no short term end to the conflicts scarring the Middle East and climate migration on the rise, we cannot let a policy of ignorance be maintained.

More than ever, it is our responsibility as liberals to stop the immigration debate descending into hard line, xenophobic rhetoric that sets community against community. The relative success of Alternative fur Deutschland in these German elections shows how challenging that can be. Especially when the “pro-immigration” parties in Germany still vastly outweigh the anti, just one story makes better headlines than the other. Similarly, here in the UK, we would be foolish to think the decline of UKIP will see an end to the blaming of the other. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 34 Comments

One particular “fear” could decide the result of the EU Referendum

BMW writes to its UK employees highlighting the dangers of Brexit. A French minister threatens to wave through migrants at Calais en route to Dover and to roll out the red carpet to welcome financial services to his country if we leave. Boris and others say none of this will happen. Great Britain still is great. From his residence across the Channel Lord Nigel Lawson tells us not to worry. The EU needs us more than we need them. Confused? I bet many people are.

Like Lord William Hague, I’m an EU pragmatist. Better inside the tent etc. Unlike our former leader I don’t think that the EU will be ‘about the same’ in ten years’ time. The remarks from Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, following last week’s summit were very apposite. The ‘negotiations’ undertaken by David Cameron, while casually dismissed as ‘thin gruel’ by Eurosceptics like Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, have whetted the appetite of many recent, and not so recent arrivals in the EU for a fundamental change of direction for a project that started life in the aftermath of WW2 when many parts of the world were on their uppers and the numbers of nations actually making things was a shadow of what exists today.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 14 Comments

Free movement in the EU and control of our borders

One or two very welcome guests below the line at Liberal Democrat Voice have challenged us to talk more about immigration in the context of the EU referendum. Because people want the UK to “take back control of our borders”. So here we are.

Of course we do have control of our borders. We are not part of Schengen, and there is nothing they could do to make us join. We have our own immigration policy, subject, as with all policy, to treaty obligations. The specific treaty obligation of interest here is the provision in the Treaty of Rome to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 55 Comments

Immigration: pride over our policy, the importance of words…and a mea culpa

A little while ago I was incensed with being bombarded day and night by media stories about Cameron and negotiations about benefits for EU migrants. This is a blog, at the end of the day (good blogging term there), so I blogged about it. What came out was a knee-jerk rant (“Migrants’ benefits debate is a proxy channel for xenophobia in some quarters” (the last three words being added after publication)). Some of the best blogging is based on knee-jerk rants. Not this time. On this occasion I should have been a little more careful with my words.

In the end, I raised the white flag in the ensuing debate and modified my article to emphasise that I was only talking about xenophobia “in some quarters” and that “I acknowledge that many have genuine and sincere concerns about this policy area for legitimate reasons.”

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments

Alistair Carmichael MP writes…Suzanne Fletcher reminds us how one person can make a difference for vulnerable people

Today in Parliament the Minister for Immigration was forced to explain why G4S were housing asylum seekers behind red doors, leaving them open to targeted attacks. The Minister, who said he was “deeply concerned”, in response sprang into action announcing an audit of asylum seeker accommodation in the North East. Good to see the Minister reacting so quickly to something that was only in the papers that morning you might think. Not so.

Suzanne Fletcher, former Liberal Democrat Councillor and now Chair for Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary, has been campaigning on this issue doggedly for years. In fact, it is predominantly down to her campaign work that this became a news story today.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments
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