Tag Archives: immigration

Opinion: How we made policy on asylum issues

Advocates disrupt transfer of asylum seekers from VillawoodEver wondered how party policy is made? I was on the “Immigration, Asylum and Identity” Policy Working Group, and the process has taken a whole year. Living in the north east, I daren’t begin to add up the cost of the fares, and food on the move, for meetings every 10 days on an evening in London, but it was an opportunity to get some good and Liberal policies for the Party for those asylum seekers who seek sanctuary in the UK.

Between March and …

photo by: kateausburn
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Call Clegg: Ukraine, Europe, Boris’s mansion tax, Vince’s ‘gaffe’, collective responsibility and immigration

First up on this morning’s Call Clegg was, unsurprisingly, Ukraine. After discussing the situation generally Clegg was asked why he thought financial support for the country was a good idea. His response was clear:

It is in our interests to have a stable rather than unstable Ukraine.  It is in our interests to have a prosperous rather than an impoverished Ukraine.  Because if Ukraine is in a sense brought to its knees economically and socially never mind what the military incursions are from Russia, we’ll end up frankly paying a much higher cost in the years to come.

Next up he repeated …

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Farage says Britain’s becoming “unrecognisable”. But the British public says our sense of belonging is increasing.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was dog-whistling for all he was worth at his party’s spring conference this week:

“In scores of our cities and market towns, this country, in a short space of time, has, frankly, become unrecognisable. Whether it is the impact on local schools and hospitals, whether it is the fact that in many parts of England you don’t hear English spoken any more, this is not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.”

His words were eerily reminiscent of William Hague’s insidious “foreign land” speech in 2001. And his party’s slogan …

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My favourite Vince Cable quote on Tory immigration policy

Vince Cable smiling - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThe good news is that more people chose to come to the UK last year. Net migration to the UK increased to 212,000 in the year to September 2013, up from 154,000 in the previous year. As the independent Office for Budget Responsibility has shown before: if you want increased growth, you should welcome immigration.

Here’s how Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable put it, according to the BBC:

Vince Cable welcomed the increase in net migration to the UK, saying

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Julian Huppert on making sure the end of child detention is underpinned in law

Julian Huppert MP has written over at the Party’s shiny new website about moves he has made to ensure that child detention has gone for good. One of the very first things the Coalition did, at the instigation of the Liberal Democrats, was to change policy so that children were not detained in horrible places like Yarl’s Wood and Dungavel for immigration purposes. That has now been put on a statutory footing, again thanks to the Liberal Democrats:

Working closely with Norman Baker in the Home Office I was able to secure a commitment from the Home Secretary that the

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Julian Huppert MP writes: Lib Dem immigration policy paper is strong, balanced and compassionate

Public concern about immigration has been fuelled by the rise of UKIP, and further driven by the Tories desperately trying to show how tough they can be on foreigners, and Labour keen not to be left out of the ‘sounding tough’ rhetoric. I am always disappointed that just about the only thing Labour has apologised for is letting too many people into the country in their 13 years.

We must stand firm against the anti-foreigner tide, and the Immigration Policy Paper, which you can read here, does exactly that. Andrew Stunell has led the working group impressively to produce a …

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Immigration minister Mark Harper quits. An honourable resignation? Inevitable is nearer the mark

Mark Harper, Conservative immigration minister, today resigned after learning his cleaner did not have permission to work in the UK. Here’s how the BBC reports it:

Mr Harper notified Prime Minister David Cameron, who accepted his resignation “with regret”, Number 10 said. It added there was “no suggestion” the 43-year-old Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean had “knowingly employed an illegal immigrant”. Fellow Tory James Brokenshire has been appointed the new immigration minister.

His resignation is being hailed as honourable, though I think inevitable is nearer the mark. There is no suggestion he acted illegally, and in his own version …

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Why has Nick Clegg backed plan to deprive terror suspects of citizenship?

A last-minute government amendment to the Immigration Bill which would give the Home Secretary the power to deprive terror suspects of British citizenship even if it would make them stateless has made all the headlines. Well, the cynic in me suggests that it neatly deflects attention from the abject failure of David Cameron to keep his right-wing backbenchers under control. So far he hasn’t been able to stop Dominic Raab and Nigel Mills from tabling amendments which, if passed, would render the Bill illegal as far as the European Convention on Human Rights is concerned. He is unlikely to …

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Opinion: UKIP – let’s have a debate about low skills

strawberriesThere has been an inconsistency between two highly prominent policy areas that has been niggling away at the back of my mind for quite some time now.  UKIP needs to take note.

So, take two policy areas and also take into account the temperature (at least according to the Daily Mail, etc) of the voters.

The first area is education.  Schools that do not match up to the floor levels at Key Stage 2 and at GCSE are pounced upon by Ofsted.  They require improvement or are put into special measures.  All children must get 5 good GCSEs.  They must progress and they must aspire.  Think of the slogans that populate the UK and US education policy discourse: “no child must be left behind; “every child matters”; and social mobility is regarded and upheld as a kind of rebalancing panacea to address all social ills and help narrow the gap.

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Opinion: Postcard from a British immigrant in Poland

As a Briton living and working in Poland I am ashamed of the small-mindedness David Cameron is encouraging in Britain by attacking Polish immigrants and insinuating that they are nothing but benefit scroungers. It is doing great damage to our image here and cutting deep into the trust and respect between our peoples.

I am a guest in this country, an economic migrant if you will. Since coming here to Warsaw in 2010 no one has ever uttered even the mildest criticism of my taking up the opportunity to work here (at an international college of European studies). Far from it …

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Opinion: Farage: The Nostradamus of Politics

Fear is a powerful motivator. Take, for example, its use in two political campaigns, one from each side of the Atlantic: the Daisy Girl ad, used in the re-election campaign of US president Lyndon Johnson in 1964; and the Labour tax bombshell broadcast, from our own Conservatives in 1992.

One made American voters ask, “Do I really want Barry Goldwater – a man who joked about lobbing a nuclear bomb at the Kremlin – to have his finger hovering over the red button?” The other made British voters ask, “Do I really want Labour to …

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Opinion: The Immigration Trap

For liberal fundamentalists, open-door immigration policy exerts a fatal attraction.  Right-wing economic liberals advocate the freedom to recruit cheap labour on the global market and make British business more profitable and competitive.  Traditional centre-left liberals advocate anti-racism and individual freedom to migrate.  Thus, immigration is one of those special issues which can be claimed to bring Left and Right together, and thereby supersede these “outdated” political concepts with an all-conquering philosophy of Liberalism.

Joe Public will have none of this.  Joe believes it is bonkers to import shiploads of foreign labour while millions of natives

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Immigration: 87% of Lib Dem members back free movement of EU people; but 65% also support benefit restrictions for EU migrants

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

87% of Lib Dems support the free movement of EU citizens

Overall, do you support or oppose the right of people in EU countries to live and work wherever they want?

    87% – Support
    6% – Oppose
    1% – Don’t know
    5% – Other

An overwhelming proportion (87%) of Lib Dem members support the right of …

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Opinion: Tories’ anti immigration rhetoric represents opportunity for Liberal Democrats

As the day when Britain opens its doors to indefatigable hoards of Eastern European immigrants arrives, yet more desperation can be witnessed from grassroots Tory activists running scared of UKIP. 90 local Conservative activists have pleaded with David Cameron to extend controls on immigrants arriving from Bulgaria or Romania until 2018. Quite laughably, the group claim that this would be fully within EU law. This comes on the same day in which the Government announced further restrictions on migrants’ access to the NHS – an initiative designed to combat ‘health tourism’ and accordingly, completely at odds with any …

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Same story, two very different headlines







Fail headline on IPPR report


This is a screnshot of today’s Daily Fail scare story. It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? If you’re a right wing tabloid wanting to persuade people that the entire populations of Romania and Bulgaria will be camping in their back yard a week on Wednesday, you are going to write that sort of headline.

Of course, it’s only mildly inconvenient that the actual report on which you base your, well, story is probably the right word says something a little different.  And that the report is …

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Opinion: Shades of Grey 2: Six Useful Facts to Help You Chillax this Christmas

  1. There are nine countries to which Romanians and Bulgarians can travel to from 1 January: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Spain (only Romanians), the UK and Switzerland.
  2. There are around 6.5 million Romanians and 2.1 million Bulgarians in the age group 20-39, 8.6 million in total.
  3. So far, 1.9 million Romanians and 0.35 million Bulgarians have already emigrated to other EU countries (Eurostat 2010, Open Society Insititute Sofia, 2011), including 80,000 Romania-born persons to the UK (ONS 2011) and 160,000 to Germany (German Office of Migration Studies , 2013).
  4. Labour and skills shortages are reported from Bulgaria and in

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Slam the door on EU migrants and it is Britain that will get hurt

There are many Liberal Democrats, myself included, who feel distinctly uneasy about the changes that the Coalition has made to EU benefits changes, agreed to by Nick Clegg. My personal view is that while these changes save the country a very small amount of money, tackling a problem that doesn’t really exist, we lose a lot more by ceding ground to UKIP and the Tory right.

From Nick’s point of view, though, he feels that he’s agreed to it to make the system fairer and acceptable to British taxpayers in the current climate. He’s fine with free movement around the …

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Lord Roger Roberts writes…Liberal Democrats in Government must fix failing asylum system

Yesterday was International Migrants Day. Sadly, celebrations for many were rather subdued.  morning marked the end of a long, hard and emotionally-charged  battle. Isa Muazu, a 45 year old asylum seeker from northern Nigeria, who had been on hunger strike for nearly 90 days, landed in Lagos, Nigeria.

Lawyers and campaigners fighting his cause ran out of avenues through which they could challenge the removal decision in the limited time-frame given. The case has been enormously distressing for many of those who have chosen to engage with it, but it has also raised the profile of many long-standing concerns surrounding immigration detention in …

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Opinion: Europe and peace – the ties that bind and the dangers of the rise of the right

There are many sound economic reasons why Britain’s continued membership of the EU is good for our country and for Europe itself. We are already making that case as the Euro elections approach in May 2014 and must continue to do so.

However, there is one over-riding reason that is barely getting mentioned as the whiff of ‘little-Englander patriotism’ in euro-sceptic campaigning risks once again becoming the stench of right-wing xenophobic nationalism in Britain and across Europe.

The historical development of the EU has provided the ties that bind European nations together in peace after a century of vicious blood-letting, including the …

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Opinion: Immigration – the shades of grey

Immigration remains a toxic topic for politicians in Britain – but those of us in the political centre cannot afford to dodge this debate, or we risk standing by while Britain becomes a country known for xenophobia, not tolerance.

Across the UK, people are facing a tough Christmas this year. If you can pay your electricity bill without too much trouble this winter, you’re one of the lucky ones. Many argue that immigration, or immigrants, are somehow to blame for this hardship. After all – ‘they’ are taking our jobs, using up our welfare budget, and filling up our local A&E …

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Opinion: Teresa May’s Right Hand doesn’t know what her Hard Right hand is doing

teresamayThe leaks from the Home Office of Tory plans over immigration, rightly shot down as illegal by Nick , are the mark of a Tory Party abandoning moderate politics to placate its increasingly vocal right wing.

But the juxtaposition of Tory isolationist leanings with yesterday’s official announcement from the home secretary on modern slavery exposes the total lack of joined up thinking within the Tories on trafficking & immigration.

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Nick Clegg reminder to drawbridge-up Tories on immigration: “We are an open economy”

CleggIt’s good to have the old Nick Clegg back today. You know the one I mean: the liberal leader willing to stick up for the free movement of people and take on the anti-immigration populists.

Occasionally that Nick goes missing in action, such as when he advocated security bonds for immigrants from ‘high-risk’ countries entering the UK or when he enthusiastically joined the general hysteria around so-called ‘benefit tourism’.

But today he was back, hitting out at proposals allegedly leaked by the Home Office to impose a cap …

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Botched deportation of dying man highlights need for humanitarian overhaul of asylum system

On Wednesday, Roger Roberts wrote an extremely moving article about the fate of Isa Muaza, a Nigerian asylum seeker who had been on hunger strike for 90 days in protest at the conditions in which he was being kept at an immigration detention centre. His removal from the UK, even in his frail, close to death condition, was planned for Friday morning.

Through Thursday, many of our readers signed the petition asking for Theresa May to reconsider her decision to deport Muaza. Huge effort was put in by Liberal Democrats including Sarah Teather, Julian Huppert and Tim Farron as well …

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John Pugh MP writes…Lessons from Bulgaria

There is something strange happening. This week we have seen the British Prime Minister question whether the free movement of labour is necessarily a good thing. The prospect of potentially socially disruptive Bulgarian and Rumanian immigration is concentrating his mind while all across the EU pray devoutly that the worst of tabloid fears will not come to pass.

The banking collapse in 2009 made all of us question whether the unfettered, free movement of capital was invariably a good thing. Currently the merits of the free movement of capital and labour are up for debate.

What we are seeing is the collapse …

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It’s “Immigration Hysteria Day”. Again. Here’s how Lib Dems need to respond

Another day, another bout of “the UK’s about to be invaded by 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians” hysteria. But today it’s not Nigel Farage splattering mis-shapen statistics into the debate: it’s the Prime Minister, David Cameron – increasingly resembling Mr Farage’s mini-me – who’s showing leadership by following the tabloid press. Here’s how the BBC lists the new proposals:

  • New migrants will not get out-of-work benefits for the first three months
  • Payments will be stopped after six months unless the claimant has a “genuine” chance of a job
  • The “habitual residency test” to determine eligibility for benefits will be tightened up
  • An earnings

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Study shows that UK benefits from immigration from European countries

UK-BordersLiberal Democrats celebrate the fact that immigrants make a substantial social contribution to UK society, and they have long suspected that immigrants make a net financial contribution as well.  That claim is now backed up by a recent study undertaken by University College London, and reported by the BBC.

In a paper for the Centre of Research and Analysis of Migration, authors Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini conclude that:

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Nick Clegg stops Theresa May’s £3000 immigration bond

nick cleggWay back in March, in a speech that, to say the least, was not well received in the party, Nick Clegg proposed that some people visiting Britain from “high risk” countries should pay a bond. He said:

One idea, which appeals to me, is a system of security bonds. And so I’ve asked the Home Office to do some work on it with a view to running a pilot before the end of the year.

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Boris Johnson is not the only politician to stand up for immigration

boris and cameronThe Telegraph reports Boris Johnson’s claim that he is the only politician to stand up for immigration.

I’m probably about the only politician I know of who is actually willing to stand up and say that he’s pro-immigration.

Nonsense. I can only guess that Boris doesn’t know many politicians. He even jokes that the only party backing immigration is the Greens. That’s not right and I am sure he knows it. The Lib Dems are the party that takes a positive attitude to immigration, and unlike the Greens, we are part of the government.

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Tim Farron writes… A liberal win on ‘Go Home’ vans

go home illegal immigrant posterSince I have been President I have worked hard to try and make sure members views are heard in the heart of government.  Banging on ministerial doors to try and make policy after policy better and more liberal.

Over the summer the ‘Go Home’ vans came onto our streets.  At the time I joined Sarah Teather and, oddly, Nigel Farage to oppose them. (Who says politics doesn’t give you strange bedfellows!)

My view was clear both then and now: The vans represented the worst kind of divisive politics and …

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Open letter to Lib Dem MPs: The Immigration Bill is illiberal

Dear Lib Dem MPs,

We Liberal Democrats have long been proud of our internationalism and compassionate stance towards refugees and immigration. Not an ‘open borders’ party, but a party which believes controlling our borders does not conflict with welcoming newcomers or upholding their human rights.

By contrast the Conservatives care little for rights, European or otherwise. Theresa May is engaged in creating a “hostile environment” made so unpleasant for “irregular migrants” will simply pack up and leave, and minority ethnic British citizens could end up being racially-profiled if they ‘look foreign.’ This approach is diametrically opposed to the values I …

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  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 23rd Apr - 8:29pm
    When I was a member of the Party [resigned some months ago] I did contribute to the Members Forum and was surprised how few did...
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    Perhaps it is Robson Brown who is confused:, in his reference to: "'Jews are harvesting organs in Haiti' Tonge''. There again, never let the facts...
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    Caron Lindsay "indiscriminate-and-insensitive-overuse-of-benefit-sanctions-needs-to-be-tackled-by-liberal-democrat-ministers" But it won't be.