Tag Archives: immigration

Roger Roberts on breaking bones

Last week Roger Roberts spoke in the Lords debate on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights: Article 18. This is his speech:

I remember that when I was a child, we used to say in school, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me”.

The truth of course is that names can hurt and can lead to abusive and destructive actions. We should take great care what we say in our speeches—not only the content but the tone of our voices. I suggest that even Home Secretaries, sometimes, could think about what they are saying and the effect it …

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Willie Rennie and Kirsty Williams challenge Scots and Welsh Tory leaders to disown Theresa May’s “borderline xenophobic” comments

Tim Farron was quick to condemn Theresa May’s speech yesterday, saying that she, not immigrants, were damaging to social cohesion. I think it was one of the most disgraceful speeches we have ever heard from a Home Secretary and, let’s face it, Jack Straw, John Reid and David Blunkett had already ensured that the bar was in the gutter. At the time of writing, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition has not yet deigned to challenge her.

We’ve seen over the Summer how the Welsh and Scottish Tory leaders have set themselves apart from the wilder rhetoric coming from senior Conservatives, such as the “swarm” comments of the Prime Minister. Their Liberal Democrat counterparts Kirsty Williams and Willie Rennie have challenged them to dissociate themselves from Theresa May’s comments.

Kirsty said:

Andrew Davies must speak out against Theresa May’s outrageous speech or we must assume that he shares her views. He was right last month to call for extra help for refugees fleeing the crisis in Syria, but his position is at odds with the borderline xenophobia we heard from the Home Secretary.

Britain is socially, culturally and economically richer for our outward looking, tolerant approach. Yet this Conservative government is whipping up fear and mistrust.

Willie added:

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LibLink: Tim Farron: It’s Theresa May, not immigrants, who is really damaging Britain

The unpleasant rhetoric of Theresa May’s speech this morning has given every liberal what we Scots call “the dry boak” Her remarks were not measured, not reasonable and entirely designed to win over that small proportion of the population who are members of the Conservative Party.

Anyone who knows anything about the immigration system will know how difficult it is to actually get into this country. Married couples often have to endure years of separation before (and it’s not inevitable that they will be) they can live together in this country. The strain put on families is intolerable. People who have endured unimaginable hardships and abuse are often turned away when they come here seeking sanctuary.

Tim Farron has spent the day standing up to May’s inaccurate, misleading and shocking speech. He’s written an article for Politics.co.uk in which he says there is someone damaging Britain – and it is not immigrants:

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Report slams effects on children of family immigration rules

There are rightly many areas where the Liberal Democrats can be proud of what we achieved – and stopped – in government. There were other areas where we had little impact and left things in a much worse state than we found them. For me the most noticeable of these was immigration. Not only did we countenance some highly unfair changes, particularly the income requirement for spousal visas, for which our Ministers must take the blame, but our Conference passed policy which reflected what the coalition had done rather than our own liberal values.

In York two years ago I made an intervention in the debate on immigration to say I’d be voting against the policy, and that it broke my heart to do so. That was captured by the Guardian at 10:42 here. 

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Farron urges Theresa May to help Calais refugees

Tim Farron has written to Theresa May to ask her to help the refugees in Calais. He visited the port earlier this month and saw for himself the conditions people had to live in and also heard some of their stories. Here is his letter in full:

Dear Theresa,

I am writing to you about the humanitarian crisis in Calais ahead of your meeting with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later this week.

I welcome the measures the Government has already taken to improve the security situation at the Eurotunnel and reduce the disruption which has been caused for British businesses and holidaymakers, but am writing to ask that the UK do more to ensure that the humanitarian crisis in Calais is properly recognised and addressed.

Having visited the Jules Ferry migrant support centre in Calais and met with organisations working on the ground, it is clear that many of those living in “the jungle” are refugees fleeing war and persecution. The organisations who are currently working to support these very vulnerable people are under extreme pressure. The conditions in Calais fall far short of international standards on the treatment and welfare of refugees. Water and sanitation are all in short supply and medical support stretched beyond capacity. Many are being forced to subsist on the one meal a day that the centre is able to provide. More funding and better coordination are urgently needed, and the UK needs to do more. It is absolutely right that we work together with the French to fund improvements in security at the Eurotunnel and action on people trafficking, but the humanitarian support that is so desperately needed must also be adequately funded.

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#WeAreAllHuman: Liberal Youth members show solidarity with Calais refugees

“We will not dehumanise, we will not demonise, we will support them.”

Liberal Youth members have made a video in solidarity with the refugees in Calais. Joanne Ferguson, who joined the Party in May and has written for this site several times, tells David Cameron: “You have the power to save human lives, use it.”

Watch and share.

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Let’s appeal to lovers of a big- hearted Britain and win the immigration argument.

I felt compelled to put into words my thoughts on the situation in Calais following David Cameron’s intervention, describing those seeking refuge in the United Kingdom, as ‘swarming’ over the border.

To invoke the language of the BNP, UKIP, the National Front, and the English Defence League is irresponsible and inflammatory. Similar language was used by the Daily Mail in the 1930s when describing Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.

My family are refugees; my grandparents and their three young daughters were forced to flee their homes following the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. This issue is therefore very close to my heart. The UK gave refuge to my family in the 1970s, and for this they will be eternally grateful. They became part of London’s mosaic society. As with many other immigrants at the time, they were welcomed by both the government and society. Immigrants were seen as beneficial to the country, they brought with them skills, and a willingness to work long hard hours to better their lives. They saw the UK as a safe haven, and respected the native population. At the time the British people, by and large welcomed them, and accepted that immigrants were good for both society and the economy.

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Farron calls on Cameron to act to end “immeasurable suffering” of migrants

Tim Farron has written to David Cameron to urge him to ensure that the UK takes its fair share of those poor, desperate, vulnerable people we’ve all seen on our tv screens. He wrote:

I am writing to you about the current humanitarian crisis in Calais and its impact here in the UK.

I am sure you agree that it is heartbreaking to see hundreds of desperate people subsisting in makeshift camps night after night, willing to risk life and limb in the hope of a better future while many in Kent and across the country see their daily lives hugely disrupted through no fault of their own.

I welcome your commitment yesterday to providing France with the resources needed to deal with the situation and am writing to seek assurances that alongside the necessary security measures, support will also be given to humanely process those seeking asylum, return those who have no right to remain, and ensure that, in line with international obligations, standards of welfare and accommodation are urgently improved.

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Tim Farron talks about Asylum and Immigration

Last week Elizabeth Needham recorded some video footage of leadership candidate Tim Farron talking about asylum and immigration.

She’s happy for it to be shared, so, enjoy!

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LibLink: Kavya Kaushik: Britain’s immigration debate has taken a turn for the toxic

Ealing Southall Liberal Democrat candidate Kavya Kaushik has been writing for the New Statesman about the effect of the sort of rhetoric we’re hearing in the immigration debate.

She was annoyed by Evan Davis’ comments about Nick Clegg’s family background during his leader’s interview last week and recognised Nick’s obvious irritation:

The choice to fixate upon Clegg’s multicultural upbringing, suggesting it to be out of touch with “British” people, made for uncomfortable viewing. For centuries immigrants have been an integral part of the British working class. Within the context of the current immigration climate, it feels like further demonisation of BME people.

Davis’s intention was unlikely to be intentional racial discomfort, but Clegg’s furious reaction mirrored that of many children of migrants. Our Britishness is consistently questioned despite having lived in the UK for our entire lives. Casual racism is on the rise, particularly within politics. On the doorstep a BME canvasser is increasingly likely to hear “I don’t want your people here”, and worse. These experiences lead to racial sensitivity and passing comments questioning multiculturalism vs Britishness can be interpreted as a personal attack when coupled with modern attitudes to race in Britain.

Hang on! What was that?

On the doorstep a BME canvasser is increasingly likely to hear “I don’t want your people here”, and worse. 

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Opinion: What’s worse than a watery grave?

The news this week has been dominated by the horrendous tragedies of over 1000 deaths in the Mediterranean. With the notable exception of the vile Katie Hopkins, this tragedy has moved the hardest hearts, not least because of the number of children who have died.

For me it’s far closer to home and I confess I have spent the last couple of days fighting back the tears. I have the enormous privilege of caring for two children who made that same journey. And the danger for them didn’t begin when they climbed into a rickety boat, it began as they crossed the Sahara, in cars carrying maybe 30 passengers, many hanging on to the outside, where if one of them fell off they would be left to die in the scorching sand. Or in the insanitary, cruel and overcrowded cells of a Libyan detention centre.  And then, having reached ‘safety’ sleeping rough and eating out of bins while all around you people are dying.

As a family we have heard the horrendous stories of the children who are now part of our family, neither of them knowing where their birth families are, both very clear that they were prepared to take the risk to get here because the alternative was worse. Both now lauded by their schools for being role models for other students with their diligence, good humour and determination to succeed.

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LibLink: Tim Farron says the deaths this week are a wake-up call. We need a change of direction

Tim Farron MP speaks at the rallyIn an article for the New Statesman Tim Farron writes:

The tragic deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean this week must force us to change direction.

Immigration is one of the major issues of this election and Labour and the Conservatives continue to portray all immigrants in a negative light. But immigration is not an issue which can be solved by Britain on our own. Or by oversimplifying and stoking fears based on one stereotype. The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto will not ignore the plight of refugees playing a lottery with their own survival.

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Opinion: Europe is the solution to Britain’s concerns about immigration, not the cause


That statement has perhaps never been as boldly underlined as it was this week, with the continent-wide consciousness being collectively appalled at the unfolding horror in the Mediterranean. The horrific events have mobilised a pan-European discourse of outcry in a way that other EU issues often fail to do, primarily because it highlights the need for European collaboration, and the human cost of our failure to do so. It is also perhaps because it underlines to us the extent to which Europe is viewed as a single entity, or collective, by the rest of the world.

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UKIP’s support is based on irrational fear of the unknown, leading to unBritish and unChristian behaviour

Channel 4 News Factcheck is a place I often go to when I need a bit of sanity. On immigration, they have an excellent post.

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LibLink: Sarah Teather: It’s clear our system of immigration detention isn’t working

Sarah Teather has been writing for the Huffington Post in the wake of the report on immigration detention released the other day. She started with a shocking story:

One such occasion took place last July. I was sat in a committee room in the House of Commons, chairing the first evidence session of an inquiry into immigration detention. We were talking, via a phone link, to a young man who was being held in one of the giant detention centres next door to Heathrow.

He told us about how he had ended up in the UK. At the age of 16, he had been trafficked from his home on the Nigeria/Cameroon border to Hungary. He told us how he was “put in a basement, beaten, raped and tortured”. He managed to escape and then found himself in London, a stranger. Then he was detained.

I asked him how long he had been in detention. His answer caused those in the room to gasp.

“Three years”.

Three years he had been in detention, locked up not because he had broken the law but for immigration purposes. A young man who had been the victim of some horrendous abuse had arrived in the UK and instead of being given support and treatment, was locked away indefinitely.

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“Uncontrolled mass immigration”, Nigel? You must be joking.

I guess I was lucky to survive my breakfast today. First of all, I almost choked on my Corn Flakes reading some of the tales on the “What’s your funniest canvassing experience?” post. Mark Smulian has a lot to answer for. And if your sides aren’t sore enough, Alex Wilcock has done a whole post recounting his tales from the doorstep. I might disagree with him on the worst by-election candidate ever, though.

Things got more serious, though. Hilarity turned to annoyance and shame when I saw Nigel Farage on BBC Breakfast going on about immigration. “Uncontrolled mass immigration” he kept saying. Now there’s a phrase redolent with demonising people, fear and stoking up resentment against people who come to this country to work. You know, those people without whom we wouldn’t have a National Health Service. Those people who make a significant net contribution to the wealth of this nation by paying their taxes. The way UKIP and Farage have both Cameron and Miliband dancing to their fraudulent tune is sickening and is not backed up by evidence. Just the other day, a study reported in the Independent showed that, contrary to the nonsense spread by UKIP, immigrants are not coming over here and taking our jobs.

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Julian Huppert writes … We must end indefinite detention for immigrants

Immigration detention
Looking back over the Coalition Government, one of our great successes is putting an end to the routine detention of children for immigration purposes. In 2009, 1,119 children were locked up in immigration centres, nearly 500 of them were under five years of age.

Not only have we ended this practice, but in the Immigration Act we made sure that if any future government wants to undo our reforms, they’ll have to do it the hard way by passing an Act of Parliament.

But the issue of immigration detention doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there.

The UK is an outlier in the EU as the only country that doesn’t have a time limit on how long someone can be detained under immigration powers. Ireland has a time limit of 21 days, France 45 days, Belgium two months and Spain 60 days. Even Russia has a time limit, albeit of two years.

photo by: Policy Exchange
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Lord Roger Roberts writes…A step towards abolishing the Azure Card

Azure cardLast November I wrote that we must abolish the Azure Card and secured a debate in the House of Lords to that effect.

For those who may be unaware, The Azure Card is a prepayment card provided destitute asylum seekers who require support because they are temporarily unable to leave the United Kingdom. It is a discriminatory and wholly inadequate system of support which the Red Cross – as well as many other refugee organisations have called to be abolished.

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Opinion: We are the world

At my United Reformed Church on Sunday the preacher was a young woman from South Africa. The two readers were from the U.S. and from Scotland. The English woman who led the prayers is married to a man of Pakistani origin. Two Australians served coffee, a German lady sat in front of me and a Swiss man across the aisle.

We are a global society, not just a global economy. We are the world.  Yes, the Lib Dems are pro-Europe and internationalist, and we should fly these colours high as these policies represent how our country actually is.

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Opinion: How the UK immigration system damaged my mental health #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015I wanted to talk a bit about how immigrating to the UK has affected my mental health, because both mental health and immigration are subjects on which I ‎look to the Lib Dems to support me with, via good policies and campaigning.

I’ve been in the UK nine years now, but when I’m standing in that non-EU passports line (I’ve long been eligible for citizenship but I can’t afford the application fees), I can’t help but hear similar interrogations going on to the ones I remember when I first came here and was interrogated by a big scary scouser for two hours– how long are you staying? how much money have you got with you? — I can’t help but think “that’s how it started…”

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LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee – Sending overseas students home is “economic nonsense”

Writing on PoliticsHome, Baroness Sally Hamwee, describes the recently mooted Conservative plans to send overseas students home as “economic nonsense”, which risk the good reputation of the UK:

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Time to lambast the economic stupidity of Tory posturing on immigration


The main headline in today’s Sunday Times (£) is something of a milestone. (Helpfully, the Murdoch empire make most of the story available on Sky News without a paywall).

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LibLink: Tim Farron – Pandering to Ukip risks handing over British-grown ideas to overseas competitors

Tim Farron launches the Lib Dem YES! campaignLib Dem party president Tim Farron argues that “a simplistic debate over immigration will force potential wealth creators overseas” over at the Huffington Post website today. Here’s an excerpt:

Pollsters will say that migration is one of the main concerns of this election. An ill-fated and simplistic response by politicians to this issue will not address their concerns. A cap will do nothing to address the problems that Britain faces. Low pay will not be solved by a migrant cap. The housing crisis will not

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Poll: Young people appear more tolerant, open and happy with modern Britain

A recent survey by YouGov, for Business for New Europe, indicates that teenagers have markedly more positive views towards Europe and the free movement of labour than adults. This should encourage those who appreciate the economic advantages of an outward-facing UK. It could also fuel calls for 16 and 17 year-olds to be included in any forthcoming referendum on the EU.

The poll, based on the views of young people aged between 14 and 17 years old, showed:

  • If there was a referendum, approximately twice as many of those aged 14 to 17 would vote to stay in the EU (45%) as leave (23%).
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Lib Dems Telegraph splash: EU bashing “weak, opportunistic and fundamentally un-British” say Ashdown, Ludford, Brinton, Farron and 90 Lib Dems

Even Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have taken the isolationist path that David Cameron’s Conservative party is romping its way down, according to 90 Liberal Democrats in a letter to the Telegraph today. The letter states:

David Cameron’s recent speech on European immigration is the latest in a series of desperate moves from a Conservative Party in full-scale panic.

We’ve had: “Go home or face arrest” vans. We’ve had: if you are from the EU and want to move to Britain, go and register at a police station. We’ve had: if you’re out of work, even for a few months, go back to where you came from.

In her Bruges speech in 1988, Margaret Thatcher said: “Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community.”

What happened to that Conservative destiny? The dual menace of the Tory headbangers and the rise of Ukip.

There is nothing patriotic about bashing immigration from Europe. It is opportunistic, weak and fundamentally un-British. Migrants from the EU claim less in benefits than people born in this country. They are a massive net positive to the British economy. The Tories are scared to admit this. They have lost all sense of political courage – and that is why people have lost confidence in them.

We, the undersigned Liberal Democrats, konw that the real patriotic case is for Britain to remain in Europe; our jobs and our economic future depend on it.

photo by: rockcohen
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Lord (Dick) Taverne writes… Cameron heads for Brexit

David Cameron - head in handsIf Mr Cameron becomes Prime Minister again after May, he is likely to be the Prime Minister who will lead the UK out of the European Union.

From time to time Mr Cameron has expressed enthusiasm for Britain being at the heart of the EU. In his Bloomberg speech in January last year, he declared:

“I believe something very deeply, that Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a Union is best with Britain in it….There is no doubt that we are more powerful in Washington, in Beijing, in Delhi because we are a powerful player in the European Union. That matters for British jobs and British security.”

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The Independent View: The political culture in Britain seems to have been infected by a form of madness

With each electoral gain made by Ukip, politicians and the media respond with ever more apocalyptic descriptions of the insidious effect of mass immigration on this small overcrowded island.

A vivid picture is painted daily of a nation overrun by swarms of migrants who are taking our jobs, lowering our wages, scrounging our benefits, crowding our schools, clogging up our hospital wards, destroying our culture and boiling our children before eating them for breakfast.

Well, maybe not the last bit, but some of the scaremongering rhetoric comes close to such levels of hysteria. It would be laughably surreal were it not so inflammatory and potentially damaging, particularly when it is stirred up by people in positions of power and influence who really should know better.

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The Independent View: What do the public want on migration?

In what seemed an inevitability, Theresa May admitted the annual net migration cap was “unlikely” to be met. The target of 100,000 a year net migration to the UK has long been posited to be unrealistic, and Cameron’s “no if no buts” pledge to meet it impossible. Yet in spite of this every year the government has pushed every effort to bring down migration levels.

We’ve seen caps on the amount of skilled non-EEA workers, much to businesses’ chagrin. Barriers put in place on UK citizens naturalising partners, heartbreakingly splitting up families. Curbs on international students resulting in the first drop in international student numbers in 30 years. None of these measures have worked to bring down net migration levels, but each have threatened family life, the financial health of our universities and our businesses’ access to the top talent.

Moreover there’s little evidence that the public actually supports these measures.  In public polling the public is unquestionably in favour of international students, with a plurality believing they bring in more than they take. Equally the public is in favour of professionals coming to the UK to work, with a majority seeing such workers as good for Britain. On spouses a solid majority support UK citizens naturalising their immediate family.

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Opinion: Media misunderstanding on Lib Dem immigration policy

When will the BBC begin to do its job properly, and understand what it is talking about? I woke up yesterday to a news bulletin telling me that Nick Clegg was considering raising the time limit for someone from an EU country to claim benefits. It was suggested that it would be 6 months. It then ended by saying that the Liberal Democrats were now joining other parties in concern about EU migration.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – ensure there is no benefit abuse while retaining free labour movement

Nick clegg rally glasgow 2014
Writing in the Financial Times (registration needed), Nick Clegg argues in favour of immigration for work purposes from the EU, but lists a range of restrictions on benefits for those coming to the UK:

Overwhelmingly, European migrants come here to work and pay taxes.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarCarl 1st Dec - 7:57pm
    This is not a disaster, this is about showing that we can do more than just talk about a liberal and democrat world from our...
  • User AvatarCllr Mark Wright 1st Dec - 7:55pm
    @Tpfkar - Target Assad as well as, or instead of, ISIS? Of course, given that almost everyone is saying that we need wider international agreement...
  • User AvatarNick Baird 1st Dec - 7:52pm
    OK, I'm new here (to party membership and LDV), but there is a poll showing that a clear majority of members (that voted) are against...
  • User AvatarTpfkar 1st Dec - 7:49pm
    Eddie Sammon - I'd be far more comfortable with action if we were targeting Assad as you've suggested, or at least getting him into exile...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 1st Dec - 7:49pm
    The key to this is communication. Tim, bless him (and I am sure this has been very difficult for him) has a lot of explaining...
  • User AvatarTpfkar 1st Dec - 7:48pm
    Sigh - Whatever the rights and wrongs, this is dumb politics. The motion doesn't need our support to pass now, and Lib Dem voters are...