Tag Archives: immigration

Lord (Dick) Taverne writes… Cameron heads for Brexit

If 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

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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.

Posted in The Independent View | 48 Comments

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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LibLink: Ibrahim Taguri: Immigration – do you want the truth or something beautiful?

Brace yourselves. Brent Central Liberal Democrat candidate has written a hard-hitting and heartfelt article for the New Statesman on immigration. He expresses his anger at what passes for debate on the issue:

This country has been built on the blood, sweat and backs of immigrants. This is the story of immigration in this country. It’s about time the political establishment recognised this. Not make us feel like foreigners in our own country.

The disenfranchised working classes are being whipped up over the issue and after being long abandoned by Labour are turning to Ukip.

Our country is being betrayed by politicians who are too weak and too self-serving to make the positive case for immigration. Instead it’s a testosterone fuelled race as to who can be hard, harder and hardest on immigrants.

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How Lib Dems should talk about immigration

british future immigrationThis week saw the publication of an important report from the think-tank British Future called ‘How to talk about immigration’.

Its central thrust is that the majority of the British public’s views about immigration are more moderate, pragmatic and nuanced than the polarising debate often allows:

How to talk about immigration challenges both the pro and anti-migration voices to respond to the public’s desire for a sensible conversation about immigration.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – Don’t blame immigrants – sort our problems

Tim Farron Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterWriting in the New Statesman, Tim Farron says we should direct our focus on solving this country’s housing shortage and wage inequalities problems, rather than blaming immigrants for our problems:

Looking at poll after poll shows that many communities are worried about the impact of immigration. I do understand their concerns. But it would be hugely disrespectful to the British public if we looked at those polls, and the problems they highlighted, and weren’t honest about the underlying drivers.

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Immigration: are you more clued-up than the British public?

immigrationHere’s your starter for three:

People sometimes talk about ‘net immigration’, meaning the difference between the number of people coming to Britain each year to live, and the number leaving Britain to live in another country. What do you think is the current level of net immigration into Britain? If you are not sure, please give your best guess.

More than two million a year
Between one and two million a year
Between 500,000 and one million a year
Between 400,000 and 500,000 a year
Between 300,000 and 400,000 a year
Between 200,000 and 300,000 a year
Between 100,000 and 200,000 a year
Between 50,000 and 100,000 a year
Less than 50,000 a year

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Opinion: The other side of the immigration debate coin

There are some things in life that go hand in hand

In the UK it is a General Election and talk of Immigration Controls

In every general election since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech Labour and the Conservatives have sought to out-do each other on the toughness of their respective policies on immigration Usually the war of words starts at about the same time as the political parties start their election campaign. This time round the battle has already started even though the General Election is some six months away And the reason? The Tories are running scared of UKIP as Nigel Farage sets himself up as the only  gatekeeper who can be trusted to keep immigrants at bay and land election defeat on Conservatives the back of it.

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Opinion: Confused Britain

Map of the European UnionEU citizens should have the right to live and work in the UK:
36% Yes, 46% No.

British citizens should have the right to live and work in the EU:
52% Yes, 26% No.

These results from ComRes were presented by the Guardian Data Editor Alberto Nardelli, alongside the title “Confused Britain“. However, in many ways it summarises an increasingly predominate view on the European Union. It seems vast swathes of the public are happy to have their cake and eat it when it comes to the EU.

It is a choice that has been presented to people by many Eurosceptics. Conservatives are increasingly discussing the notion of quota systems on EU migration, even though Angela Merkel has stated that such an impingement on free movement would be non-negotiable. Ukip have often stated that trade between the UK and the EU would be made easier, not harder, through removal from the free market area. Presented with such options, it has become popular thinking to believe that the UK can have a pick ‘n’ mix agreement with the European Union.

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Opinion: The Immigration Premium: A positive approach to immigration

This concept of an Immigration Premium was developed after watching Nick Clegg struggle to counter Nigel Farage on the subject of immigration in the European election debates. The UKIP leader is correctly able to state that we have an open door policy to European Immigration and hundreds of thousands of people arrive year after year, putting immense strains on housing, education, healthcare and other infrastructure elements.

The Immigration Premium turns this problem on its head. New immigrants (identifiable by NI number) have high levels of employment and through sheer weight of numbers make a major contribution to the exchequer both through direct taxes and indirect spending. In fact, immigration is a major factor in the economy’s return to growth. The Immigration Premium identifies additional tax revenues generated by immigration and directs additional funds to the geographic areas and services most directly affected by sudden influxes of large numbers of new people.

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Opinion: On immigration, let’s keep out of this race to the bottom

If there’s one area of political debate where perception triumphs over reality, it’s immigration. While the public rate it as the number one issue facing Britain, it tumbles to 12th place when they’re asked what concerns them most at a personal level, behind the more pressing issues of pensions, health and household finances.

This is the ‘disconnect’ between what people hear about in our debate on immigration – fanned by political opportunists and their media allies – and the reality they experience in their daily lives. It’s the doorstep charge of “well there are just too many of them,

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Nick Clegg’s speech on immigration: baby steps in a liberal direction

Nick Clegg Q&A 12When I read Nick Clegg’s immigration speech yesterday I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s sensible and mostly liberal.

Which means it’s a stark contrast to his March 2013 attempt: that was probably the most dire speech I’ve ever heard from a Lib Dem leader. Back then, Nick took credit for net migration having fallen by a third, even though net migration is, as Vince Cable has repeatedly pointed out, an absurd measure of success. He also came up with the unworkable proposal for security bonds (ie, upfront cash payments) for immigrants from ‘high-risk’ countries entering the UK.

Fast forward 18 months and both have been ditched.

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The Independent View: “I’m a believer in the benefits of well-managed immigration” says Clegg

Nick CleggOn Tuesday, in a speech in Manor House in north London, Nick Clegg gave a major speech on immigration. Like the immigration speech he gave last year, hosted by CentreForum, his recent speech will be hotly debated and greatly misrepresented.

The speech was clearly an attempt to provide reassurance to the British public that the Lib Dems wanted a fair immigration system that enabled “the brightest and the best” to come to work and study in the UK but was robust in stamping out cheating and abuse. Nick believes this is important because:

… being a nation at ease with diversity and difference does not happen by accident. Successful immigration systems have to be managed. People need to see that they are good for society as a whole. Otherwise all you do is create fear and resentment – you give populists an open goal.

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Lord Roger Roberts writes… Exit checks and the Eurotunnel: A logistical nightmare

EUROTUNNEL calaisThe Coalition Agreement included a commitment to reintroduce exit checks by the end of this Parliament.

But any means of noting or recording who enters and who leaves the UK was removed in 1998 by Labour, who considered the checks, ‘an inefficient use of resources … contributing little to the integrity of the immigration control’. Clearly, today’s debate on immigration has moved on considerably.

Since the early ‘Noughties’, successive attempts have been made to restore some form of border records, principally through the introduction of technology-based checks for anyone departing the UK as part of a new ‘e-Borders’ programme. It …

photo by:
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Liberal Democrats criticise Home Office over deportation flight report which said people were treated like commodities.

UK Border Agency enforcement teamA report in Sunday’s Observer highlighted concerns raised by the Inspector of Prisons over the treatment of people on a deportation flight to Afghanistan.

The Inspector’s full report can be read here and it makes sobering reading for anyone who cares about treating vulnerable people with respect:

Despite impressive care and concern shown by individual escort staff, detainees were not treated with enough decency in the removal process. Generally efficient procedures did not amount to respect for detainees who, it seemed to us, were seen as commodities

photo by: ukhomeoffice
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Opinion: Queen’s Speech – the success and failures of coalition in a nutshell

Nutshell 2One part of the Queen’s Speech – or rather one absence from it – neatly encapsulates the Liberal Democrat experience in coalition government, both good and bad. It is the absence from it of an immigration (dislike thereof) bill.

A solo Tory government would have introduced one and – thanks to Labour’s attitudes towards immigration – even a minority Tory government might well have got an anti-immigration bill through Parliament. It’s the Liberal Democrat presence in government which has stopped it.

photo by: steffenz
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Brian Paddick writes…We must challenge UKIP on the facts

Turning point in politics?So where are we?  The UK and the rest of Europe have lurched to the right.  People and countries are becoming more insular and less internationalist, less tolerant of difference and are looking for “others” to blame.  Almost inevitably during times of austerity, people do not like those inflicting the pain, however necessary.  Of course, some will argue that the cuts in public spending are not necessary, are not fair, are not reasonable, do not need to be so severe or all of the above.  The fact is, for years the UK has been spending more than it earns in taxation

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Opinion: Immigration and unemployment – an idea

Words.Two popular arguments deployed against immigration are that immigrant’s take jobs from British workers or that immigrants are a burden on the welfare state. Both arguments have been shown to be largely invalid: the Lump of Labour fallacy  has long been dismissed as economic bunkum; and existing evidence suggests that the net contribution of recent migrants to Britain’s public finances is positive. However, according to this evidence from  Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London not all groups of migrants make a positive fiscal contribution …

photo by: Nina J. G.
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Opinion: 485 million, 26 million or 4,000? UKIP’s immigration confusion

Nigel Farage, Leader, UK Independence Party (UKIP)So, Mr Farage, which is it? In the debates with Nick Clegg, you claimed 485 million of our fellow Europeans could come to Britain. On your wretched billboards, you claimed 26 million are eyeing up our jobs. Now, on leaflets that are dropping through letterboxes, you claim 4,000 EU migrants are landing on our shores each week. These are very different numbers.

I guess the 485 million figure is simply the total number of people who could legally come to the UK. But how is this different from pointing out that the 64 million people who live in the UK are all perfectly free to move to, say, Totnes? Should Totnes Town Council leave the UK so it can impose border controls? Should National Rail blow up the railway line at Dawlish to slow their arrival? Should the Government impose restrictions on internal movement within the UK just in case? Of course not, because 64m people aren’t about to move to Totnes, even though they’re free to do so, just as 485 million Europeans are not going to come here to Britain.

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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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    John Roffey: The 2010 election was 4 years ago, not 20. If you are right why did the Greens poll so badly in 2010 ?...
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    Helen, What do you think was the single remaining shred of credibility we salvaged in May? I can't say I noticed a single one.
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    I have no opinion on the analysis but I had a giggle at "be consistent" it reminded me of parent looking after child or dog...
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    We must keep free movement but why does the EU and lib dems not advocate system that if you do migrate you can only claim...
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