Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown say that Afghan interpreters should have the right to live in the UK

Almost exactly four years ago, Nick Clegg, as an opposition party leader, led a debate in Parliament in which the Labour Government was defeated on its plans to restrict the rights of Gurkhas to settle in the UK. David Cameron was keen to get himself into the photos with Joanna Lumley at the time.

Four years on, and Clegg and Cameron have opposing views on whether Afghan interpreters who helped our soldiers in that country should be allowed to settle here. Today’s Times (£) reports that the Prime Minister, along with Theresa May and Philip Hammond are against allowing these men and their families to come to the UK, because they say that Afghanistan is safe enough for them.

Nick Clegg’s view is consistent with the stance he took over the Gurkhas. He is quoted as saying:

The idea that we turn our backs as a country on very brave Afghans who have helped with interpretation so that our troops can do their job, and we just somehow leave them to their own fate when it’s obvious that there might be a real threat to them and their families, I don’t think is morally defensible.

Nick’s stance was backed by Paddy Ashdown, who is quoted as saying:

There’s a straight debt here. These guys enabled our troops on the ground at risk of their lives to do their jobs. They risk their lives day in, day out and constantly, and now we’re not prepared to honour them.

He added that no amount of money paid to them to stay in Afghanistan was sufficient if they had to risk their lives and those of their families.

The report says that a final decision will be made next month.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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3 Comments

  • Charles Beaumont 1st May '13 - 2:06pm

    Nick and Paddy are absolutely right. There is also an important precedent from Iraq: after allowing 60 to be murdered by death squads we finally let Iraqis who had worked with UK forces into the UK from 2007 . We’re the only NATO country that hasn’t allowed our Afghan interpreters to come here and the idea that it’s safe for them in Afghanistan is ridiculous ( I can say this because I worked in Afghanistan and saw how the interpreters took care to disguise their identities from other Afghans). How is it that someone who worked for the Danish army isn’t safe in Afghanistan but someone who worked for Britain is?
    Even for a government that appears to be obsessed with immigration, this is an incredibly unpleasant and stupid policy.

  • Stephen Hesketh 1st May '13 - 7:34pm

    The Tories have always been the party of narrow self interest. Setting aside what is unquestionably the right thing to do by the Afgan interpreters, the Tories once again prove themselves not even to be on nodding terms with enlightened self interest. Roll on 2015.

  • As Charles notes, we’ve been here before in recent memory. It is certainly the right thing to do to give these people the right to live in the UK, particularly whilst Afghanistan effects a transition to self government or not…
    Compared to the vast majority of the ten’s of thousands of immigrants that gain entry every year they have a very strong case for residency.

    I wonder whether the politic’s are more to do with being seen to stand firm, when so far the attempts to reduce immigration have so obviously had little effect.

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