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

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

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

It’s a terrible fact that the slave trade persists in the modern world, but it is also a fact that immigration limitations such as those proposed by the Tories play a role in empowering the traffickers.

Immigration Limitations reduce legitimate opportunities for both immigrants and the native population, thereby driving vulnerable refugees and other immigrants into the arms of illegal traffickers. Not only this, but the sort of Draconian penalties favoured by the Tories provide a disincentive to victims of the traffickers trade coming forward. A powerful impetus to avoid the authorities on victims of trafficking is the fear of suffering the consequences of the traffickers activities; a fear played upon by the traffickers to ensure their victims compliance.

This legislative paradox – promoting a pair of mutually contradictory policies, where the unintended consequences of one will erase the direct effects of the other – shows the degree to which the Conservatives are retreating to their comfort zone. We must, both for the sake of good sense and for the sake of the trafficking victims, resist these Tory policies which would empower the modern slavers and suppress the victims from coming forward.

* Alisdair Calder McGregor is a member of the party's Federal International Relations Committee.

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  • Is there a LD Voice award for ‘Unintentionally Pornographic Headline of the Year’?

  • Maximilian Wilkinson 17th Dec '13 - 5:32pm

    I agree with Douglas.

  • The problem is, oh dear candidate of mine, that the type of elector May is dog-whistling with this won’t necessarily see the inherent contradiction between the two policies, nor, sadly, read this excellent article.

    Must arrange some debates…

  • Little Jackie Paper 17th Dec '13 - 7:12pm

    ‘it is also a fact that immigration limitations such as those proposed by the Tories play a role in empowering the traffickers.’

    Can you elaborate on this?

    Jennie – With respect (and just so we are clear I do mean that). Do you not think it is possible that this is not, ‘dog-whistling.’ It’s just that people don’t see large scale immigration as being in their interests, and they do not need a dog-whistle blown to draw that conclusion.

  • Alisdair McGregor 17th Dec '13 - 7:26pm

    Little Jackie Paper “Can you elaborate on this?”

    Of course; Trafficking victims are often kept subdued by those exploiting them due to fear of the consequences of being found to be an illegal immigrant – a fear that trafficking gangs are quite willing to use to enforce their will, and which hard-line talking from the Tories empowers.

    Exposing the traffickers does require the victims to come forward, and this sort of Tory Policy does not help that – quite the opposite!

  • “It’s just that people don’t see large scale immigration as being in their interests, and they do not need a dog-whistle blown to draw that conclusion.”

    That doesn’t mean that May isn’t whistling for that sort of person by putting out this statement.

  • Alisdair McGregor 17th Dec '13 - 8:15pm

    Further to Jennie’s point and your question; your statement that “people don’t see large scale immigration as being in their interests” is precisely the problem. Political simplists like UKIP (and now Labour) are all too fond of the lump of labour fallacy, assuming that an immigrant worker directly equals an unemployed British citizen.

    This is of course complete nonsense. Any worker, regardless of nationality, generates further jobs and economic strength just by being economically active. Jobs are *not* discrete lumps which equal a maximum total amount of work, and further employment of *anyone* adds to the future likelihood for yet more job opportunities.

    The sooner this Liberal, Free Trade argument is made and won in the public eye, the better.

  • Little Jackie Paper 17th Dec '13 - 9:09pm

    Mr McGregor – That though makes assumptions about the economy being at full capacity – reachy in the good years. That can not possibly hold in the face of economic dislocations.


    Jobs may not be discrete lumps, however in your comment you do not mention the effects of wage arbitrage. Whilst it is entirely true to say that the level of jobs is not fixed, neither is the value of labour. And this is before we get to questions about welfare costs.

    None of this perhaps relates to the matter at hand which is what to do with trafficking victims who are illegally in the UK. My suggestion – a REAL amnesty. The previously suggested amnesty was not amnesty, it was regularisation. Every now and then the police allow people to hand over unregistered weapons and (provided there is no belief the weapon has been used in a crime) that weapon is taken, no questions asked. An immigration amnesty would be a person goes to the authorities and leaves the UK with no questions asked about possible immigration offences. What was proposed in 2010 was not amnesty, it was a reward for illegality and a slap in the face of every legal migrant. Trafficking would be solved in part by a real amnesty.

    Anyway, I’ll let everyone shout at me now.

  • Stuart Mitchell 17th Dec '13 - 10:06pm

    Are you opposed to all limitations on immigration then? That seems to be what you are arguing for.

  • James Brough 17th Dec '13 - 10:50pm

    Jackie, the problem with what you term a real amnesty is that there is little incentive for the illegal immigrant to come forward. I worked for UKBA for upwards of 10 years and spent a fair amount of time – from a very low level – pressuring for an amnesty, as the system was – and continues to be – grossly overloaded. I was part of the backlog team in the late Noughties tasked with clearing the backlog, as part of which, targets for cases cleared were increased by a factor of four or five. This caused serious problems for giving each case the amount time necessary for full consideration.

    There are other problems. While we keep a record of people coming into the country, we keep no record of people leaving. And we do not have the money needed to afford the manpower to keep track of people. So, in short, we have no real idea as to whether anyone has left the country or not. An amnesty, with the possibility of lawful leave to remain as a reward for coming forward, would be invaluable for causing people to come forward. If this were coupled with keeping track of people as they leave the country, it would be vastly helpful in terms of allowing us to kno who is actually in the country.

  • “Is there a LD Voice award for ‘Unintentionally Pornographic Headline of the Year’?”

    The competition may be stiff (fnarr fnarr). Within an hour of this thread we also had:
    Opinion: As Liberals, we must stand up For sex workers

  • You do realise that it is Clegg and the Lib Dems who are isolated on this? Theresa May is working with other EU Interior ministry to tackle a problem of concern to their populations . The Lib Dem solution? Ignore the concerns and criticise.

  • Joe: “We must Do Something. This is Something. Let’s do that then.”?

    * headdesk headdesk headdesk*

  • Alex Macfie 18th Dec '13 - 1:26pm

    And the headline refs the pornographer Teresa May, as opposed to the Home Secretary Theresa May.

  • Julian Tisi 18th Dec '13 - 5:51pm

    Here’s an idea … willing to be shouted down…

    How about we say that anyone who comes forward and exposes a criminal gang enslaving immigrants (e.g. Eastern European sex workers) where their information helps to convict someone is prima facie granted leave to stay in the UK. In this way, there’s an incentive for an enslaved person to expose themselves as an illegal immigrant, but without the fear that they will be sent home to potentially face criminal gang bosses back home.

    @ Dean “You do realise that it is Clegg and the Lib Dems who are isolated on this? ” Good. And we should shout this loud from the rooftops. I don’t mind being the only party taking a pragmatic evidence-based view on immigration. I don’t want to see our economy damaged by closing our country’s doors.

  • Julian, that sounds pretty planular to me. Of course, getting it actually enacted would be impossible in the current poisonous anti-immigrant climate 🙁

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jul '16 - 10:25am

    Theresa May’s announcement about “modern slavery” is on the front pages. £33 million from the aid budget will be used in source countries. There is no need to doubt her sincerity, but the timing is worthy of comment. One of the first motions put to federal conference was on slavery. A motion that was likely to pass overwhelmingly, as it did, but the speeches of the delegates were heart-wrenching. We should be careful not to blanket all Tories as heartless or cruel. William Hague has written a biography of Independent Yorkshire MP William Wilberforce. ISBN 978-0-00-722886-7 which contains some surprises and ISBN 0 00 714720 1. In Brexit negotiations there must be limits on free trade.

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