Introducing Lib Dem Immigrants

When I moved to the UK, I couldn’t see myself joining any party that wasn’t pro-immigrant – seeing as now, suddenly, I was one. Sadly there’s not a lot of competition there, but it helped make it clear that the Liberal Democrats were right for me. I’ve always been glad to share the party with people who share my conviction that immigration is a good in itself (when the best you’ll get from most other parties is that we have to hold our noses and accept it for the economic benefits) and, at least as importantly, that immigrants are fellow humans who deserve to be treated well.

Now I’m part of a new group seeking official recognition by the party, called Lib Dem Immigrants. The name has the potential to be ambiguous – people have already asked “can people who aren’t immigrants join?” (the answer is resoundingly yes) – but I think it’s worth it to center the focus of our group on immigrants as people rather than immigration as an abstract subject for debate.

The first piece I wrote for Lib Dem Voice was about how the UK immigration system had harmed my mental health, and in my experience that kind of anecdote – the immigrant, not immigration – is more effective than figures and economic arguments, true as those things may be, in convincing people that a liberal approach to immigration is best for us all.

If we as Lib Dems exist to promote and protect freedom from povery, ignorance and conformity, immigrants are suffering on all three counts. 

Conformity is perhaps the most obvious expectation we make of immigrants. Which leaves many having to judge whether it’s safe to dress or appear or eat or behave in ways that don’t conform to the expected ideal of “British” (which often carries with it expectations of whiteness, of Christianity or no religion at all, of flawless English). Conformity means having to assimilate and having the tabloids ask why people like you “just won’t integrate” without asking how you can possibly integrate into a culture that seems to dislike and distrust people from most of the world.

Freedom from poverty is much harder for immigrants, who generally pay a higher price for life in the UK than native Brits. Whether that be in extortionate fees for every visa or anything else to do with the Home Office (they’re even charging people to be able to e-mail the Home Office, now!), the hidden requirement that citizens of other EU countries must have been paying for Comprehensive Sickness Insurance for five years before they can apply for permanent residency, the fact that anyone here on a visa isn’t allowed any benefits for any reason, or the £35,000 salary requirement currently applicable to non-EU citizens who want to live here…the UK is giving us the impression that only the super-rich are welcome here.

And of course it’s largely ignorance about immigrants that fueled last year’s vote to leave the EU. I can’t count the number of times that upon hearing some detail of my experience as an immigrant, the well-meaning British person I was telling it to said, “I had no idea that was so difficult for you!” or “I never knew people have to go through that.” People don’t know about the hoops immigrants have to jump through, that the UK has had controls on immigration for a century (and that it could do more even within the EU to control its borders), or that a lot of the problems blamed on immigrants are more fairly placed at the hands of governments that are unable or unwilling to invest in appropriate infrastructure.

Lib Dem Immigrants intends to do things like lobby our eventual party leadership candidates and help write policy that will extend these liberal freedoms to immigrants as much as possible, and we believe that in doing so we will make a country that’s better for everybody in it, wherever they come from. You can join us here for only £1 for a year’s membership.

* Holly is an immigrant, bisexual, disabled, and probably can tick most other diversity boxes that you have handy.

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  • Can a foreign spouse of a British person who lives abroad and who cannot come to the UK because of the financial restrictions join?

  • Holly, can I ask you a question? The population of Britain is close to 70,000,000. What would you like it to be?

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Jun '17 - 9:30am

    People don’t realise how many restrictions are currently on migration. People think that if you are an EU migrant or have a British spouse then you can stay indefinitely when it isn’t the case.

    The minimum income requirements for foreign spouses is cruel, so is the amount of restrictions for applying for permanent residency and a passport. Many migrants work more than some British people and pay the same taxes yet have fewer rights and find it increasingly difficult to get them.

    People are worried about the level of immigration but we shouldn’t resort to cruel methods to get it down.

  • Eddie:
    What methods should we resort to to get it down?

  • Barry: you assume that it needs to come down at all, why?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Jun '17 - 10:06am

    Holly, I am so glad to hear about this group.
    It is appalling that you were caused so much stress trying to obtain the citizenship that should have been yours by right.
    Anyone, whatever their country of origin, who marries a British citizen, should have the automatic right to citizenship.
    As a party, we should call for an end to the citizenship test. Why should someone who wishes to be a British citizen have to answer lots of ridiculous questions that many people born in Britain could not answer? Questions that have nothing whatsoever to do with how good a citizen someone will be.
    One of the reasons I decided to join the party, in 2014, was that at the time the Lib Dems were the only party who were being really positive about the benefits of immigration, and standing up for refugees and asylum seekers. The two main parties were both constantly talking about “controls on immigration”, despite the fact that these controls were already far too harsh.
    Unfortunately, since the referendum result, I am afraid the Lib Dems have often seemed to care more about EU immigrants than about immigrants from outside the EU. Yes, we should campaign for all EU citizens living in Britain to have the automatic right to stay. But we must be equally concerned about the rights of non EU immigrants, who often have the greatest need to come to Britain. Especially, we should campaign for a far more compassionate approach to refugees and asylum seekers.

  • Barry
    The structure of the British economy is what is causing lack of balance. I won’t call it “neoliberalism”, or “neocon” as those words are subject to misinterpretation, but suffice it to say that since the “Thatcherreaganomics” revolution of the 80s and the nuLabour decision to maintain support for such economics, this country’s financial and employment systems have become more and more similar to developing countries. As we see with the Grenfell Tower, standards have been allowed to slip in building, planning and other areas. We need to reconstruct ourselves as a more “normal” European economy and society, and then we may not have unbalanced flows.

  • John Barrett 23rd Jun '17 - 10:14am

    As long as we have a welfare system, free access to the NHS, housing available to most who need it and access to an education system which is mostly free, the UK will always be more attractive to millions of people around the world who do not have similar services available to them.

    Is it sustainable to have an open door policy to everyone who would like to live in the UK? If so, the above services could not cope, if not, do we then propose to limit access to them?

    Would we allow anyone who wanted to come to the UK to come, but not to access our public services, or should that open door not be quite so open? I suspect that some form of immigration control will not only be acceptable to all political parties in the UK, the public, including many immigrants who have settled here, will demand it.

    As someone whose parent emigrated to have a better life abroad, I completely understand the wish to move to a new country, and as someone who was born abroad and arrived in the UK many years ago and benefited from a student grant and no fees, a free NHS (which saved my life) and much more, I would say that life is very different now.

    As a Lib Dem member for over 35 years, I would not join a Lib Dem Immigrants group and as a former Federal Executive member, do not think that the party should officially recognise such a group. There is nothing stopping those who wish to form such a group campaigning for what they want regardless of official status.

    When you say “If we as Lib Dems exist to promote and protect freedom from poverty, ignorance and conformity, immigrants are suffering on all three counts.”

    This may be true, but so does every other group in society.

  • Adam Bernard 23rd Jun '17 - 10:31am

    John: Would you also suggest that the party should withdraw recognition from the groups representing women, ethnic minorities, and LGBT+ people? All of these groups campaign both to represent their members within the party and for policy affecting the relevant groups in wider sociery.

  • Holly Matthies 23rd Jun '17 - 10:31am

    Yes, any Lib Dem who is interested in making immigrants’ lives better is welcome to join!

  • Holly Matthies 23rd Jun '17 - 10:43am


    I too am curious why you think the population of the UK should come down. Do you shout at friends who have babies? By the way, we’ve still got a while until we reach your 70 million population: there were 65,648,000 people in the UK in June 2016, according to the ONS, and migration dropped sharply over the last year because Britain is already so hostile that people from other EU countries are already leaving more than they’re arriving. Companies are saying they might have to close without their EU workers and the price of strawberries is set to rise since there aren’t enough people to pick them. I don’t care what number the UK population is, but I really like strawberries.

  • Jennie:
    It wasn’t me who posed the dilemma. Eddie said we shouldn’t ‘resort’ to cruel methods to get the immigration level down – thereby insinuating that there are methods he would choose. I await his answer.

  • Holly:
    You ignore the Home Office’s revelation that 150,000 illegal immigrants are entering the UK every year. I don’t know why you did that, but anyhoo, I ask you the question again: What would you like the population of Britain to be? You say you “don’t care”, but I’m not asking if you care or not, I’m asking what would you like it to be? the subject of your article is immigration…which affects population, so although you “don’t care” you surely have an opinion on the level.

    To answer your question, no, I don’t shout at my friends who have babies. And I didn’t say the population should come down. Kindly don’t read into my words things I didn’t say. Thank you.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Jun '17 - 10:49am

    Barry, for starters, economic development in other parts of the EU will reduce migration to Britain in a “non-cruel” way.

    People outside of the EU should have a skill we need or a close family member to come. Or be a refugee.

    What I’m against is treating people like second class citizens once they get here, especially for long periods of time or refusing to let spouses come. I don’t have all the answers, so I can’t answer further here.


  • Holly Matthies 23rd Jun '17 - 10:50am

    When you say “If we as Lib Dems exist to promote and protect freedom from poverty, ignorance and conformity, immigrants are suffering on all three counts.” This may be true, but so does every other group in society.

    Of course, it’s true of many groups and the Lib Dems have many groups to represent some of those. I’ve been on the exec of LGBT+ Lib Dems for a long time, and am a member of Lib Dem groups for disability, humanism, mental health, etc. But “thus also applies to other groups, not just yours” has never seemed like a reason to do less to me, always a reason to do more.

    Lib Dem Immigrants will do all we can whether we have official party status or not.

  • Eddie:
    Thank you. So you favour a criteria based on skill levels, immediate family members, and refugees. All other immigrants should be stopped, forthwith, from today, then. Should we deport the unskilled immigrants that have arrived here over the past few decades, that don’t have close family members here? So all the celery pickers from the Baltic states should go, yes? Or would you allow these to stay, now – even though they cost the taxpayer £6.6 billion a year?

  • John Barrett 23rd Jun '17 - 11:16am

    Adam. – People are clearly free to join and call for recognition of as many groups as they like and good luck to them. I would just question whether all those groups need official party recognition and the time and energy to deal with an increasing number of them.

    Also, people with the time and energy to campaign for a cause need not spend endless hours dealing with numerous party groups and committees. I think they are more productive just to get on with developing their ideas and promoting their beliefs.

    As someone who has now given up being on all party committees, in my local party, in Edinburgh at a Scottish level and in London at a Federal level. This has allowed me to free up time for more productive reasons.

    Looking back, I and many, many, others had to spend much too much time dealing with internal party matters, and I am concerned that we in the Party spend too much time talking to each other about issues like this instead of connecting with the rest of the country.

    There are a number of groups recognised by the party I would question whether their work within the party actually makes a significant contribution to the Liberal Democrats either in policy development or other ways, but as I no longer serve on any committees dealing with them, I am happy to let others, with more time than me, continue to do so.

  • Adam Bernard 23rd Jun '17 - 11:24am

    John: Fair enough. I’m open to the idea that the AO setup is not correct in general. I jumped to conclusion that you were suggesting that immigrants as a group were less worthy of representation than other groups; I apologise for reading your comments that way.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Jun '17 - 11:33am

    Barry, no, we should certainly not deport low skilled migrants. I already said: “What I’m against is treating people like second class citizens once they get here”.

    I’m dubious of your £6.6 billion figure too and the benefits of migration cannot just be measured in economic terms. I’m not getting into a big debate about this, especially with someone who is suggesting deporting legal migrants and already seems to have ignored part of my first reply.

  • Holly Matthies 23rd Jun '17 - 11:47am

    Thanks as always for your kind comments and support. Obviously as a non-EU immigrant, I share your concern for them!

    As we see EU immigrants treated more like non-EU immigrants (having to jump through expensive and unfair hoops to get residency, etc) and non-EU immigrants treated like the government wants to treat everyone (having to pay for he NHS, etc), I think it’s more important than ever that we all pay attention to, learn about, and support each other.

  • Jennie “Barry: you assume that it needs to come down at all, why?”
    Only a madman would think that our current level of population and its forecasted rate of growth is anyway ‘sustainable’; it is even less sustainable once you take into account our levels of resource consumption. But then given how many people will, with all seriousness, talk how Brexit will enable the UK to have its cake and eat it, and believe it is possible, I suspect a degree of madness has become a social norm.

    However, the above is not a reason to not have some migration, just that I see no real value (socially or economically) in the excessive levels of migration we have witnessed every year since 1997. Nor is it a reason not to address the issues, that primarily first and second generation of immigrants encounter, which Holly raises. In fact, I suggest with significantly lower levels of migration, the value of individual migrants increases and hence it is more in our interests to better help them become full productive members of our society.

  • Eddie:
    I didn’t ignore your comment. You said:
    “What I’m against is treating people like second class citizens once they get here, especially for long periods of time or refusing to let spouses come.”
    Is deporting them (under your criteria for entry) “treating them like second-class citizens”? If it is, then it nullifies your points on allowing only certain types of immigration. If it isn’t “treating them like second-class citizens” then it nullifies your second reply to me. You seem to have got yourself into a pickle there.

    The £6.6 billion figure is by a group of leading economists – not my figure.

  • Roland:
    [while we await Holly’s thought-out reply to me]
    Of course our immigration rate isn’t sustainable – that’s a point lost on many, here. We don’t have the resources nor barely the infrastructure to support our current population of almost 70 million. Given that our population is rising at something like 700,000 a year now, that means an increase of 7 million in just 10 years. However, as I said, many on this forum completely fail to grasp that – just look at the replies. It’s astounding denial of the problem that eclipses radical Islamism, climate change, and any other issue affecting the UK.

    Where I take issue with you is on leaving the EU. By leaving, a future government (when it wakes up) will have the tools to do something about it. With free EU movement, we would not be able to stop EU citizens coming here. Just watch the immigration levels in France and Germany in the coming years. It’s not about Britain having its cake and eating it, it’s not about trade or finance. None of that matters. If we cannot halt immigration (to zero) then the future does not look good for anyone under 55 years of age in the UK (except the rich, who will be cocooned). Even at zero immigration, our population rise is extremely worrying. Alas, as I said, people aren’t looking at it with any concern. Ignorance is truly bliss.

  • Andrew:
    Please read my reply again. I asked Eddie if he would like to deport unskilled immigrants – given that his criteria for entry is picking skilled immigrants. It’s a perfectly valid question, Andrew, framed around his reply. I don’t advocate deportation, initially. Neither am I trying to fool anyone. I would have thought that I have laid out my questions very clearly. It’s a pity you seem to have confused yourself, so perhaps you’d like to read them again. I’m sure that Roland can answer himself, but given that immigration accounts for 62.4% of our population rise (that’s ignoring illegal immigration, so it’s likely around 75%), I would have thought it was a more pressing problem than babies.

    Eventually I will go away. But it’s a shame that you are running away from answering a very simple question. Let me see if I can help you to reply. It was you that wrote this article on immigration, and immigration accounts for 62.4% of our population rise. So, given that, the level of population is (obviously) relevant to any discussion within this article. Are you going to keep running away from my question: What would you like the population to be? We’ve already discovered that you “don’t care” – a very curious statement, but it’s not an answer, Holly.

  • 1. Immigration was the main reason “leave” won last years referendum. If the Lib Dems are serious in winning back support for the EU, this simply will not happen until we start to get to grips with the numbers
    2. Whilst Immigration benefits the economy as a whole, most of the benefits go to the middle classes and most of the costs hit the working classes.
    We had a discussion the other day on the fact the there is now only 1 Lib Dem MP between Oxford and Edinburgh (by 777 votes).
    3 .The British Social Attitudes survey in 2013 found that 77% of people think immigration is too high, 17% about right, 4% too low; while YouGov in 2015 found 75%, 18%, and 2% respectively. Those numbers have been stable for a decade. About 95% of leave voters think immigration is too high, but also a majority of “remain” voters do too!
    4. It’s perfectly possible to be pro-immigrant and pro-refugee, but to want proper controls and management of both. If the Lib Dems are serious about winning back support for the EU they simply won’t do so by adopting a full open borders policy.
    5. If you accept the word Democrat in the title, then surely that means listening to the views of the vast majority of the UK population (77% remember), otherwise how can we call ourselves Democrats in the true sense of the word

  • Holly Matthies 23rd Jun '17 - 12:47pm

    I’ve also written for Lib Dem Voice before about how liberals should be addressing the concerns about immigration like those that lost us the Brexit vote.

    Hint, it’s not by validating them.

    Brexit was also about a lie on a bus, people wanted more money for the NHS. We need more infrastructure, more houses, more nurses. This makes more jobs and so less unemployment too.

    People are still vastly overestimating the numbers of immigrants in the UK: it’s 5% but British people as a whole think it’s 15% and Leave voters thought it was 20%. We can’t base our policies on appeasing a public that is so ill-informed. We should be informing them better: other politicians won’t, and the media won’t, so someone has to.

  • Holly Matthies 23rd Jun '17 - 12:49pm

    Sorry, where I said “numbers of immigrants in the UK” it should have said “of EU immigrants”; don’t know how simple h am important word got missed out!

  • I think perhaps any article on immigration should be out on pre moderated comments in the future…

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Jun '17 - 1:04pm


    It is great to hear from you again, we have a real and definite rapport, beyond a shared appreciation of my late and lamented friend, Jeremy Brett!

    As the son of an immigrant from Italy, and the husband of one , like yourself, of American origin, of course I welcome your new initiative.

    Your articles are sensible and compassionate , goodness knows we need both in equal measure.

    Our valued friend and colleague Eddie, above , is correct in the extent to which people do not realise the hoops some have to go through, as you, Holly , did , and show .

    However, for every one like you , who should not have to because of marriage, we need to change the rules, no more restrictions based on income. On this you are a little unfair to Labour in your assessment of other parties, under Comrade Corbyn they are committed to ending the spousal income restriction.

    It is the case , some of us want the end of automatic freedom of movement in the EU, exactly because we care about the exploitation of labour, the undercutting by businesses , the indigenous working class alienation, and , more than anything, so that we can be more caring and open to those who have a connection, to others here, by marriage or family relationships, allowing easier settlement.

    I genuinely feel the phrase “freedom of movement ,” is a nonsense. Of course as Liberals we favour it, other than that would be totalitarianism.

    We actually are meaning , in our discourse, freedom of settlement. That cannot be unlimited, if it is , only the richer countries would get fuller, whether richer or poorer as a result, while the poorer countries would get emptier , and only ever much poorer as a result.

    Similarly, unless contemplating a completely market based approach to public services , which would be grotesque, supply and demand would always be at the whim of governments, and immigrants do not have clout, and neither do depressed local regional communities much.

    A social Liberal or social democratic society , must be managed at most important levels. To say otherwise is another thing altogether philosophically, it is libertarianism, whether of the left or right.

    Some in this party are that. They are not really fully grasping that freedom is nobody’s favourite concept or practice for very long, if it is a free for all.

    We must shake up our society , and wake up our party .

  • Sue Sutherland 23rd Jun '17 - 1:10pm

    As shown in the discussion above, people get very emotional about immigration. I used to be proud that people wanted to come and live in my country because I felt they valued our democracy and tolerance. Obviously I don’t feel that now we have become such a closed and angry nation, instead I feel ashamed.
    However, I don’t understand why free movement is such an important tenet of the EU. Could someone explain this to me. I asked this recently on another thread and nobody answered but it’s a genuine question. I don’t understand the philosophical basis.
    I wish this new group well.

  • @Holly
    “People are still vastly overestimating the numbers of immigrants in the UK: it’s 5%”

    Hi Holly
    Except that’s not the whole story though is it.

    Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that 27.5 per cent of all births in England and Wales were to women who had arrived here from abroad.

    The number was 12-13% for decades, but has taken off since 1997 when Tony Blair started loosening immigration rules.

    I think you may struggle to win this argument especially in the present climate?

    I’d also add that given we have now 21 months to build support for the EU (and 2 of those may involve taking our eye off the ball embroiled in an internal leadership election), then I would simply ask what is the bast strategy to adopt in the short term to achieve the best outcome for Immigrants in the next 21 months? I guess I’m suggesting is their a better way to provide a springboard for your overall aim in the short term?

    PS: I agree with your point re spouses right to live here with the same rights BTW.

  • Holly Matthies 23rd Jun '17 - 1:24pm

    Babies born in England and Wales to parents who were born somewhere else are not immigrants!

    My numbers came from Ipsos Mori, by the way, and can be found with a lot of other interesting/depressing facts about how the UK perceived the EU here:

  • @ Andrew Hickey
    “To do that and *not* also allow free movement of labour (which is all the EU and single market actually require — they don’t require free movement of people who aren’t working)”

    So free movement of *Labour* may be a basis on which to “sell” to many.
    I can see this as moving enough public opinion (as opposed to simply the open border many perceive now)

    Re your previous point:
    “The fact that the majority hold a view does not automatically make that view correct, just, or decent, and one of the important functions of anyone in politics is to try to change the views held by the majority where they believe them to be wrong………..

    Agreed, but surely the point of a political party is to get itself elected to deliver that change.
    Been seen as a pressure group with 7% of the vote is not going to achieve the aims it wants. A party that can’t shift it’s vote share is going to struggle to get it’s voice heard.

    Hence my suggestion above to adopt a more subtle strategy where a few battles may have to be lost to play a longer game whereby the war may be won?

  • Barry
    An increasing population means more infrastructure is needed. Much of that population is in cities. The city I live abroad in has doubled in population since I first came here. These days there are new roads, hospitals, schools, and rail transport. Migration is a fact of life.
    Britain was traditionally a country of emigration. I remember the 10 pound (sterling) pom scheme. Many Britons still have a desire to live abroad.
    Countries that have falling populations are not those that enjoy great prosperity.

  • @ Holly
    “Babies born in England and Wales to parents who were born somewhere else are not immigrants!”

    No, but for the 9th most populated country in the world (second to the Netherlands in Europe – see data from migration watch below), what are the consequences of a growing population (both from migration and increased birth rate), on a small island in practical terms and for the balance of economic prosperity v quality of life and pressure on the environment for its citizens?

    Are we willing to invest in the infrastructure, healthcare and schools and in the regions and commit to a less London centric economy?
    Where will the money come from?

    From Migration watch – linked below” (some very interesting and more extensive data than the Independent article I linked earlier)

    Your slide set from your earlier post is indeed very interesting and you’re right, a lot of misconceptions.
    The worry expressed in the conclusion did indeed come to pass – we voted to leave!
    Re education could be a real challenge though in 21 months?

    Just to clarify, I do believe every spouse should have the right to full residency.
    However, I do not agree that calling for a sustainable migration policy is the same as being anti-immigration and I do believe in treating the people already here with the same respects and rights as everyone else.

    I also think it’s really important that we have an immigration policy that is broadly supported.
    I think there is plenty of evidence that taking a stance which ignores the vast majority of the electorate ends up leading to more division & intolerance

  • @ Manfarang
    “Countries that have falling populations are not those that enjoy great prosperity.”

    Well, this could be seen as the other side of the coin, could it not?
    What affect does the migration of talent from poor countries to rich countries have on the future of those countries, and should we care?

    @ Andrew Hickey
    “the reason we’re down to seven percent of the vote is because we spent so many years compromising on principles”

    Umm – it’s a big leap to suggest an open borders policy will win back the vote’s we need and that we won’t be absolutely crucified for it?
    Besides, just taking a straw poll of the last few immigration threads, I’m not sure even a majority of Lib Dem’s would agree a totally open borders policy is the way to go?

    As Glenn says in a parallel thread today:
    “Politics is about pragmatism, balance, compromise and in a democracy it is about what the electorate will or won’t vote for.”

    I agree with him!

  • Ah Ok Holly – fair do’s – didn’t know that

    You obviously are an expert here and extremely passionate – just been reading your last thread from a few months ago.
    Seeing as I’ve spend the last 2 weeks arguing for the need for passion and emotion, think I’d be wise not to argue with you too much over this.
    You know much more than I

    Good luck with re educating – guess you’ll have plenty of bullets to dodge 🙂

  • Holly:
    Immigrants make up 13% of the population according to the 2011 census. It doesn’t matter where they come from. What matters is our population level – which we’re still waiting to hear (from you) what you think it should be. If you found that question too difficult, could you answer this: What level of immigration would you approve of? You can, of course, run away from that question as well, but I really don’t think you should decide to go onto a forum and fail to answer questions that are really simple. Your choice.

    “I do not expect this actually to change your mind, as you are clearly not motivated by anything related to events in the real world”
    Priceless! I am concerned by real-world events, Andrew, that’s why I’m trying to discuss immigration with the author!
    According to the ONS (that’s what the author quotes) the latest population rise was 538,000 (in one year!) for 2016. Immigrants make up 62.4% of that – 335,712. Onto which was at least another 150,000 illegal immigrants (according to the Home Office). I have all the figures, thank you. Unlike many, I actually know what the figures are, and don’t just make things up.

  • Sue Sutherland 23rd Jun '17 - 10:18pm

    However, Barry, you do sound aggressive in your posts and I don’t think that helps because immigration is such an emotive subject.
    Andrew, thank you for your explanation. I had thought I understood this as free movement of labour so what I dont understand is why it doesn’t just mean you can go and work anywhere if you have a job to go to, or even a knowledge that employers are looking for casual labourers. I’ve been told it’s much broader than this.
    If freedom of movement is so important, then shouldn’t it be allowed from all countries?

  • Why don’t we let all nine billion people in the world come here and screw every benefit they can out of us? Then after they’ve bled us dry they can move on and do the same somewhere else.

  • Not at all, Sue, I just say it as it is. I believe I’ve been very patient with Ms Matthies, and others. Facts are facts. I state them, not supposition or conjecture. For some, that’s offensive – but that’s their problem, not mine.

  • Holly Matthies 23rd Jun '17 - 11:19pm

    If freedom of movement is so important, then shouldn’t it be allowed from all countries?

    I’ve been asking exactly this question for more than a year now, especially of Leavers who try to tell me that it’s not fair I had such a miserable experience immigrating and wouldn’t it be fairer if it was the same for EU citizens as for me. I’m happy to agree, but wonder why they never want to bring me up to the EU level, always want to drag them down to mine… Funny, that.

  • I would have preferred a better description of yourself Holly – from the USA who has lived here for 10 years and is married to a UK citizen. Do you have British citizenship yet?

    @ Barry
    “.If we cannot halt immigration (to zero)”

    We can’t. Not even net immigration and I am not sure when it would be in our collective best interest to do so. I can think of some policies which might help, – free training to be a nurse or doctor, having more training places than we expect to need; having a citizen’s income; having no need for the unemployed to sign on; creating a career path in social care. However we might still need to import doctors and nurses to meet our needs in the NHS, we might still need to import people to work in social care, and we might still need seasonal workers from aboard.

    @ Holly Matthies
    “People are still vastly overestimating the numbers of immigrants in the UK: it’s 5%”

    There are over 8.3 million people in the UK not born here. In your previous LDV article you wrote, “in reality it’s 13%”. In 1981 it was 6.2% which I think is an acceptable figure. About 1 in 20 is much more acceptable than 1 in 7.7 and as Mike S suggested we have to deal with the views of 77% of the population.

    @ Andrew Hickey

    According to the ONS, the population has grown by 538,000 of which 193,000 (35.8%) are from “natural growth” (births over deaths I assume) and 336,000 (62.4%) from net migration

    @ Lorenzo Cherin

    “We actually are meaning, in our discourse, freedom of settlement. That cannot be unlimited, if it is, only the richer countries would get fuller, whether richer or poorer as a result, while the poorer countries would get emptier , and only ever much poorer as a result.”


  • Holly Matthies 24th Jun '17 - 9:15am

    You’ll have seen from my next comment that I inadvertently left “EU” out of that 5% immigration statistic. Since I can’t edit the comment, i had to add another for correction.

    I’m curious why you would have liked to know more about where I’m from and how long I’ve been here.

  • suzanne Fletcher 24th Jun '17 - 9:35am

    @holly thank you for a good article setting out what the issues are and about Lib Dem Immigrants as an organisation. Having more of an informed debate within the party is important, and good policy on these things very important indeed. So I wish you luck. Navigating becoming an AO is not easy, but Lib Dem HQ is not the Home Office and will be helpful.
    On behalf of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary – good luck ! and you know where we are if needed for any support.
    For those who also care about refugees and asylum seekers – some issues overlap, but they are different, there is Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary – not touting for business away from Lib Dem Immigrants, but get in touch with us too if you want to know more about that side of things as well
    @Catherine Jane Crosland

  • Holly Matthies 24th Jun '17 - 9:45am

    Yes, to let readers know, we at Lib Dem Immigrants have been in contact with LD4SOS all along (as well as Ethnic Minority Lib Dems — again, the issues are very different but do overlap, especially even as people of color who are British several generations back run the risk of getting treated as new immigrants) and we’re grateful to both of those groups for their support as we get started. It’s definitely not touting for business away from us and I’m sorry I forgot to mention you guys in the first place!

  • Sue Sutherland 24th Jun '17 - 12:49pm

    Thank you Andrew again. One of the failures of the Remain campaign has to be that this was never emphasised. The impression that membership of the EU meant unlimited immigration has been left to rot in people’s minds.
    I too think that there is a lot of cruelty in the rules applied to immigrants from other countries and this may also have been a reason for some people to vote Leave. I can remember Mark Carney, when he was first appointed as Governor of the Bank of England, being rather scathing about the fact that although he’d been married to a Brit for 30 years it gave him no right to come and live here.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Jun '17 - 1:06pm

    Immigration is already so complicated that Home Office caseworkers do not understand it. This leads to a dialogue of the deaf with applicants lawyers, MPs, etcetera. Changing policy is of limited use unless it is enforced. For instance check out what happened about interviews for marriage visas after the 1997 general election.

  • suzanne Fletcher 24th Jun '17 - 1:12pm

    @Richard Underhill – you are right in saying Home Office caseworkers do not understand immigration issues.
    It is Lib Dem Policy that there needs to be more and better training.
    Quality of decisions

    5.3.13 Visa application decisions are complex. Crucial to improvement is the quality of senior management. Border officials must apply detailed rules which are subject to frequent change, while making high stake judgments on both visa and asylum applications. In improving the quality of decisions it is important that we equip operational staff to meet these challenges, and to recognise the role of ‘immigration officer’ as a skilled profession. Immigration officers are recruited at an administrative grade, the requirements for which do not ensure they are equipped with the skills needed for the role.

    5.3.14 Liberal Democrats propose the UKBA’s successor should set the ambition that all immigration officers processing visa or asylum applications should be of an Executive Officer grade by 2020 with commensurate levels of skills and sensitivity.

    5.3.15 In improving decision making a greater focus should also be given to the training available to immigration officers.

    5.3.16 Liberal Democrats propose the Home Office should develop an accredited training and CPD programme for immigration officers, addressing their need for language skills for visa applications, understanding of cultural differences and giving them an increased ability to identify fraudulent applications accurately.

  • suzanne Fletcher 24th Jun '17 - 1:13pm

    A report from Migration News Sheet, published by ECRE shows that contrary to what the media portrays, European populations are much more open to welcoming refugees, and politicians need to realise that. There is an increasing polarisation, and the extremists are very vocal and organised – but it does not mean they speak for more people.

  • @ Holly Matthies
    “ I’m curious why you would have liked to know more about where I’m from and how long I’ve been here.”

    Because I was interested to know more about you. (Would you have preferred if I had said you could have stated you were from Minnesota?) You didn’t answer my question – Do you have British citizenship yet?

    You could add other details about your involvement in the Liberal Democrats, but I expect there is a word limit.

  • @Andrew Hickey, @ Holly Matthies

    Andrew, just clicking around over a cuppa, in between sorting out the jungle that used to be known as my back garden, and came across your blog post linked from this site above the recent comments section:
    One Year On: Thank You

    Now I understand – this is deeply personal for you!
    Like Michael BG said earlier, it would have been nice to know a bit more information yesterday – you’re are amongst friends here I am sure.

    Wish you both the best of luck in whatever the future holds – hopefully it will all work out fine.

    PS: try not to be so hard on yourself.
    We can all only do what we feel is the best for ourselves and our loved ones at the time. Brexit is not your fault
    Stay well.
    Best wishes to you both, Mike 🙂

  • Holly Matthies 25th Jun '17 - 12:29pm

    @Michael BG
    Yes, I already went well over the suggested word limit in this post, which is one reason I didn’t say more about myself. Another reason is that I was writing to represent a group, which is composed of lots of people with their own stories and their own perspectives, and I wanted to write something to represent them too, not just myself.

    But also, I’m wary of feeding a narrative that is way too common in our society, where immigrants are divided into good and bad, and because I’m white and English-speaking I’m “good” or because I’m disabled and unemployed I’m “bad”, but because I’m married to a British person I’m “good” again… I am very uncomfortable with how differently people perceive me based on what they know about me and what “kind” of immigrant that makes me.

    Even in this thread, people who think freedom of movement is bad (a position I vehemently disagree with) are quick to tell me that I should be fine because I married someone British. So I try not to make this about me because I don’t want to argue my specific case, I want to advocate for everyone to have the chance of a good life in a country they weren’t born in, if they want it.

  • @ Holly Matthies
    “I already went well over the suggested word limit in this post,”

    I think you have misunderstood me. I was talking about the “short description that you would like us (LDV) to use”
    Yours is “Holly is an immigrant, bisexual, disabled, and probably can tick most other diversity boxes that you have handy.”

    Mine is “Michael Berwick-Gooding is a Liberal Democrat member in Basingstoke and has held various party positions at local, regional and English Party level. He posts on this site as Michael BG” (quite a bit longer).

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