Tag Archives: immigration

Luciana: EU staff critical to our NHS

Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Luciana Berger has spoken out about how Brexit would harm our NHS, emphasising how reliant we are on EU doctors and nurses. Analysis done by the Labour Party highlights that NHS staff work a million hours of unpaid overtime every week.

That doesn’t surprise me. When my husband was seriously ill three years ago, in the 51 nights he was in hospital, only once did I see one member of staff actually leave at the end of their shift. And the situation has got much worse since then as we lose thousands of EU nurses every year.

Luciana criticised Labour’s approach to Brexit:

A key reason NHS staff are working overtime is because of the serious shortages in the number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS. Part of that shortage is due to the net loss of 5,000 EU nurses in the last two years alone.

Only yesterday, Labour failed yet again to confirm their position on freedom of movement. With the NHS reliant on 10,000 EU doctors and 20,000 EU nurses, Labour’s support for Brexit is baffling as it will be so damaging for our NHS and hardworking staff.

In the past week we have learnt about the Conservative plan to impose a Nurse Tax on any new EU health professional coming to treat NHS patients. The stakes could not be higher. Labour and the Conservatives must stop being so irresponsible with our NHS.

The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit to protect our NHS. We will build a brighter future by investing an extra £35 billion in our NHS by adding a penny on income tax. In addition we will implement a national recruitment strategy to ensure we never again suffer shortages of nurses, doctors and other health professionals.

If Labour are bad, the Tories are terrible. They would charge nurses who come to this country to use the NHS they work for. This would cost their families thousands of pounds.

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15 November 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

  • Tories pushing ‘Trumpian agenda’ on immigration
  • Lib Dems: Record waiting times show Tories “dismal record” on NHS
  • Tusk comments show there is “light at the end of the tunnel” for Remainers
  • Tories pushing ‘Trumpian agenda’ on immigration

    Responding to Priti Patel’s comments regarding cutting overall levels of immigration, Liberal Democrats Shadow Home Affairs spokesperson, Christine Jardine said:

    This country needs people to come here to keep our NHS and so many sectors properly skilled and staffed. The Conservatives’ approach to immigration is an insult to the millions who have come to the UK and made it their home. Immigration brings so much to our

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Roger Roberts: Don’t build walls, build bridges

While all the drama was happening in the Commons yesterday, the Lords was debating the Queen’s Speech.

One of the measures in that is an immigration bill that makes any liberal reach for a sick bag. Roger Roberts very eloquently described why freedom of movement is a good thing – what would Londoners have done for their tea without the Welsh farmers who moved their to set up dairies?

My Lords, listening to the Queen’s Speech, what drew my attention was the reform of the immigration regulations and that these would include restriction of freedom of movement. I agree that we need reform of the Home Office Immigration Rules, because they are totally unfit for purpose. For instance, this year we saw Windrush remembered, and only last week heard that a lass born in Glasgow 30 years ago now faces deportation. The whole thing is agony for so many people. They are here and yet the Home Office seems to treat them very unjustly. I therefore suggest that we make a fair adjustment of the regulations so that nobody will feel that they are being used in an unfair way.

We face immigration problems that will increase as the years progress. We see that climate change in Africa could well turn many people from their homeland to look for somewhere else to survive. Warfare in places such as Syria and Afghanistan will also lead many people to leave their homeland to look for somewhere they can have a fair and peaceful existence. We, as the United Kingdom, could be the leaders in this reform of immigration thinking. So often we are the people who react, not the people who lead. We could be the people who lead on these immigration transformations. That means we would need to take the initiative; we would have to forget building walls and start building bridges. That is the only way we can become a whole human family.

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Lib Dems condemn Home Office treatment of LGBT Christians

One of the Laws of the Universe is that, just when you think the Home Office can’t get any worse, any less humane, it does.

This weekend, Pink News reported on the appalling treatment of LGBT Christian asylum seekers.

One respondent said Home Office officials asked her questions including: “How can you be lesbian and Christian?,” “Isn’t the Bible against being gay?”, and “Doesn’t that contradict with your Christian belief or your belief?”

The report was based on 33 interviews with LGBT+ asylum seekers – 31 of these came from a Christian background and two were Muslims.

Another participant said: “‘In the application process, in my case, everything that I was doing I was doing it in secret, so I got to a point that Home Office is asking me ‘Where’s the proof?’ And it’s very difficult for me to come out with proof, because I’m doing this in a way that my will not find out who I am… I don’t have the right to work.

LGBT+ Lib Dems, Lib Dems 4 Seekers of Sanctuary, the Lib Dem Christian Forum and Lib Dem Immigrants issued a joint statement:

We condemn this ignorance and insensitivity of the Home Office.

We also note that the Home Office’s culture of disbelief has impacted both Christian people and LGBT+ people in the past and that this in turn is just a small part of the injustices that have led to the Liberal Democrats to call for the Home Office to be stripped of all immigration and asylum responsibility.

And Christine Jardine was furious in a piece on the Lib Dem website. 

Earlier this month, Liberal Democrats revealed that over the last three years the Home Office has refused over 3,100 asylum claims on the basis of sexuality, even though the people making them were from countries where consensual same-sex acts are criminalised.

Now, a report on LGBT African asylum seekers has found some being accused of “contradiction” by Home Office interviewers, because they are LGBT and Christian. One person even reported being asked, “How can you be lesbian and Christian?”

This Conservative Government is letting down every LGBT+ person

Imagine being forced to leave your home and making it to the UK, only to be told by Home Office officials that your very identity is a “contradiction”. Imagine having your religion used against you, to discredit your claim to asylum.

That is the culture of disbelief that both LGBT+ people and Christian converts face in the Home Office. Officials too often deny them asylum without any evidence; they simply assume that they are lying about who they are.

This Conservative Government is letting down every LGBT+ person and every individual in this country who cares about human rights.

The UK should be leading the campaign across the world against homophobia and transphobia. Instead, we have a Government that is turning its back and looking the other way.

Liberal Democrats demand better for LGBT+ people wherever they live.

We will establish a new, dedicated unit to handle asylum claims, free of political interference and without the Home Office’s culture of disbelief.

Liberal Democrats will fix our asylum system so that the UK provides sanctuary to those who need it.

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Why do right wing immigration reformists like Liberal Canada’s points system?

oris Johnson may have hoodwinked a number of European liberal activists by promising to instate a points-based, also known as “merit-based”, immigration system, something for which the Liberal Democrats advocated as recently as Brighton Conference last year.

In 2018, proponents of the immigration motion passed by Conference gave weight to their arguments by comparing the policy to Canada’s, a country generally seen as having a generous approach to migrants’ rights. This much is fair. But we should delve a bit deeper into that policy to understand why it’s suddenly popular with the anti-immigrant Conservative government.

Canada’s points system was established in 1967 by the Liberal government of Lester Pearson, an internationalist to his core. Canada’s previous system was based principally on a migrant’s country of origin and ties to Canada and the Commonwealth. At the time, immigration to Canada was 85% European, mostly from the UK and France. Canada was committed to opening its borders and its culture to place itself on the international stage.

But the nature of the Canadian economy restricted Canada’s otherwise bold immigration reform. Canada is, and was, an export economy, with much of the country’s GDP coming from its energy sector, and most of that coming from oil. With the massive consumer economy of the USA on its doorstep, retaining this status was and is crucial. 

So when I hear UK immigration pundits saying “be like Canada”, I often think of some weaselly post-EU theorists saying “be like Norway”. We’re not an export economy, and unless you’re a Brexiteer fantasist, it seems unlikely that we will be. The world doesn’t have an insatiable appetite for marmite, curiously shaped dogs, and novelty cheeses. Like it or not, we need low-skilled immigrants. We need relatively uneducated immigrants. Moreover, Canada did not (and does not) have a substantial demand for temporary workers. Britain, by contrast, needs large numbers of temporary workers to sustain its agricultural and construction sectors, among others.

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Ed and Jo answer Lib Dem Immigrants’ questions

As the hostile environment continues to ruin lives, Lib Dem Immigrants posed questions to the leadership  candidates.

Here are their answers.

Q1:  If Brexit happens, what should the voting eligibility of resident (non-Commonwealth, non-Irish) EU citizens be? What about resident citizens of other (non-Commonwealth) countries?

Jo:I believe that it makes no sense to withhold voting rights from people who live, work, and have settled in the United Kingdom. We saw in the Euro elections this May the impact of having a double standard of voting eligibility – councils unable to administer the system and people unaware that they weren’t going to be able to vote. To add insult to injury, the idea that people born outside the Commonwealth don’t have a vote simply because they weren’t once taken over by Britain as part of the Empire, is outdated and completely unfair. Put simply – I believe that if you’re living in this country long term, you should be able to vote.

Ed:
• the voting eligibility of resident EU citizens (I presume you mean people who have permanent residency rights) should be full, i.e., all elections.
• to widen the franchise to give voting rights to non-EU, non-Commonwealth citizens, would be a major departure. Nonetheless, I would be very keen to do it for local elections, but would want to consult widely before giving voting rights for national elections.


Q2: The party is committed to reducing visa fees to the cost of administration. What other steps could we take to stop visa regulations tormenting immigrants? For example, how could we make work visas less of a barrier to career progression?
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Free movement: UK arrivals and departures

In an increasingly interdependent world UK public policy should acknowledge international mobility and diversity as a permanent social trend

Many people who’ve lived in Britain all their lives dream of winning the National Lottery and being able to move away to some sun-kissed paradise overseas.  Brits routinely holiday abroad and migration, whether short-term or long-term, is common.  

Most of us, however, continue to live in a country where we can enjoy beautiful countryside and coastline, historic buildings, a varied arts and culture scene, and a tradition of volunteering and community support groups. The population of the UK is generally tolerant and easy-going, happy to share these good things with people from other countries. That said, the media keeps telling us that since Brexit there has been growing xenophobia and resentment towards foreign nationals in Britain.

Yet in spite of social and political reserve in some quarters towards foreigners, many people do want to come and live here.  The Migration Statistics Quarterly Report (MSQR) of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) notes that in the year ending June 2017 immigration to the UK was 572,000 (down 80,000 since June 2016) and emigration was 342,000 (up 26,000). To quote the report: “overall, more people are still coming to live in the UK than are leaving and therefore net migration is adding to the UK population.”  

So, what really attracts them to the UK?

In their recent study, Buying into Myths: Free Movement of People and Immigration 2016, Eiko Thielemann and Daniel Schade have suggested that migration flows between EU countries including Britain have been largely the result of high levels of unemployment in southern Europe and poor labour market conditions in Eastern European countries. Unemployment rates in the UK have been low compared to such countries. And when you don’t have work, one obvious option is to move somewhere else to look for a job.

Vasileva first came to Britain from her native Bulgaria in June 2008 She’s now  forty-something-years-old, is raising a family, and has lived in York for almost ten years. She has a permanent job as an office manager with an international training company. Vasileva says she enjoys the cosmopolitan feel of this country, the chance to share meals and conversation with people from all over the world. She loves the sense of community and support, and “people realising the value of these things.”

Something that native monolingual Brits find incredibly hard to understand is that many people come to study, live and work here simply because they know that the best way to learn a language is to come to the country where it is spoken. There is a global hunger for learning English, and with this there is often a natural curiosity to learn about the culture that lies behind the language. Take Céline, for instance. She’s a 32-year-old French teacher who has also lived in the north of England for just under ten years. “I love speaking English every day, and sharing my passion for languages with my students and the children in school.” She loves the kindness she has experienced here as well as the British sense of humour. 

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Chuka’s first parliamentary question as a Lib Dem

Chuka Umunna is no stranger to holding the government to account. He spent four years opposing the Business Secretary, one Vincent Cable. The effect of that seems to have been the formation of a close friendship.

Today he asked his first question as a Lib Dem on a touchstone liberal issue – the benefits of immigration and the awfulness of the Tory Government’s policies:

The King’s Fund says that the earnings threshold in the Government’s immigration proposals, which was mentioned earlier, will definitely impact on the ability to retain and attract NHS staff. The proposals for a transition period during which many social care workers would only be allowed to come here for a limited time with no entitlement to bring dependants will, again, negatively impact on the ability to retain staff. When will this Government realise that immigration is good for our public services and good for our country, and that badly thought out policy in this area that impacts on the retention of NHS staff is wrong and nonsensical?

It’s nice to see him down as a Lib Dem in Hansard, too.

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Just when you thought the Home Office couldn’t get any worse..

…a story in the Sunday Times (£) today tells how details from a suicidal young girl’s medical notes were used to deny her family asylum. And what’s worse, an immigration judge found in favour of the Home Office and the family faces deportation.

The girl, who lives in the northeast and cannot be named, had been given a “sugar-coated” version of why her family had to flee Albania for a new life in Britain. Her father did not tell the child about an alleged assassination attempt on his life by the local mafia.

At an interview with a psychiatric nurse, 48 hours after the girl overdosed in 2016, the child said her family came to Britain to “have access to better healthcare for dad”.

The Home Office was assessing the family’s asylum application at the time and learnt that the girl was “experiencing medical issues”. It requested access to her records for “safeguarding” purposes. But officials found the nurse’s psychiatric assessment and, in an unprecedented step, used it to argue that her father was lying about his reasons for coming to the UK.

If you are in a vulnerable situation, you need to know that you can talk openly to those giving you care in confidence. Of course parents aren’t going to burden their children with dangerous realities if they can avoid it, particularly if they have reason to be worried about a child’s mental state.

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Swinson slams Javid over student visas

Jo Swinson has slammed Home Secretary over his inflexible 3 year student visas for EU nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

For a start, Scottish degree courses last four years.

From The Herald:

The Russell Group of elite universities, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh, urged UK ministers to scrap the European Temporary Leave to Remain (ELTR) visa.

The Home Office has proposed that if there is a no-deal Brexit, EU citizens would only be able to stay in the UK for three months before being required to obtain an ELTR.

This would let them to live, work and study in the UK for 36 months but would be “non-extendable”.

Although the Government says a new visa system would be devised by 2021, there are no details, leading to fears the ELTR could act as a deterrent to would-be students.

Jo said:

The Scottish University system is a world leader in part because it attracts students from all over the globe who enrich our culture and help grow our economy, but the Government’s new visa plan risks damaging that reputation.

The Home Secretary is asking students who want to study in Scotland to commit to a four-year course with only a guarantee of a non-extendable three-year visa. He has a degree in economics, so he doesn’t need me to tell him that four into three just doesn’t work.

The Home Secretary likes to talk about building an immigration system that attracts the best and the brightest, but what message does it send to students looking to come here when we won’t even guarantee them a visa long enough to cover their studies?

The Government need to urgently rethink their plans and guarantee these students leave to remain to not just complete their studies, but to potentially stay here and contribute to our economy in the years after they graduate.

Jo wrote to Sajid Javid to set out her concernsThe full text of her letter is below:

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Roger Roberts writes…Massive changes needed at the Home Office

I quote from one not of my own party, David Lammy, who, in a speech last week in the House of Commons, stated:

“Your Department’s treatment of the Windrush generation has been nothing less than a national scandal. In November, we learned that at least 164 Windrush citizens were wrongly removed, detained or stopped at the border by our own Government. Eleven of those who were wrongly deported have died. You have announced three more today. Every single one of those cases is a shocking indictment of your Government’s pandering to far right racism, sham immigration targets and the dog whistle of the right-wing press”.—

In addition, I received a letter earlier this week from one who said:

“I am a Portuguese citizen from Lisbon, came here in 1993 on a full scholarship paid for by the Royal Academy of Music to study, when I was just 19 years old. I stayed and have been working as a performer and teacher ever since.

I came here legally, settled with no issues and have had a national insurance number since 1993. I have paid tax since 1997 … When I applied for settled status I wasn’t given a reason for being refused”.

Nor was she asked to provide evidence. She continues:

“It made me both frightened and angry. I’ve been here continuously for nearly 26 years and couldn’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t be immediately put through … I was promised and reassured by this government that the ridiculous process of having to apply for a status I already have (!) was simple, easy and that bar criminal conviction everyone would get through straight away.

I was lied to.

The app doesn’t work for the self-employed.

The app doesn’t come with a helpline number or email to write to, it also doesn’t tell you that if you’re self-employed you’re not likely to get through.

It doesn’t offer help in any way.

What I want to know is why on earth the Home Office cannot just look at my 25 continuous years of NI and understand it is me!

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For richer, for poorer

For Valentine’s day, Lib Dem Immigrants is showcasing some canine (and feline) couples, with a serious message. Many people who’ve not had cause to find out the hard way don’t realise that mixed-nationality couples can be forbidden from living together in the UK if they don’t earn enough. We want to raise awareness of this, and we’re proud that Lib Dem policy is to oppose it. If you’re married to a British person, you should be allowed to live with them. No means-testing. For richer, for poorer. 🐾

Lina is a Dachshund from Munich, Germany; Jamie is an English Bulldog from Croydon. Jamie worries about whether Brexit will mean Lina can’t come and live with him.

Kuniko is a Shiba Inu from Kyoto, Japan. Gary is a Jack Russell Terrier from Bolton. Gary’s income is just enough for Kuniko to be allowed here — but not enough for their puppies too. They don’t know what they should do.

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11 February 2019 – today’s press releases (part 1)

A veritable floodtide of press releases today, so we’ll take them in two parts for ease of access…

  • Govt immigration white paper – an enormous red tape threat to UK businesses
  • Property guardians caught in poverty trap
  • Cable: GDP figures reveal the country is now fairly close to recession
  • PM and Corbyn plot to deliver disastrous Brexit together

Govt immigration white paper – an enormous red tape threat to UK businesses

Responding to a report by Global Future which shows the deep costs to our economy of the Government’s immigration white paper, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Conservative immigration plans represent

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9-10 February 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

It may be that Parliament is at a bit of a loose end whilst the Government argue amongst themselves over Brexit, but that isn’t to say that there is much for Liberal Democrats to be stirred by…

  • Government ferry plan hits the rocks
  • UK citizens to be left without medical cover in event of no-deal Brexit
  • No specific funding for NHS in no deal scenario
  • Stone: Immigration rules for Commonwealth soldiers are outrageous
  • Cable: PM’s meaningful vote timeline irresponsible and insulting to parliament
  • UK must support Turkey’s stand on Uyghur crisis – Carmichael

Government ferry plan hits the rocks

Responding to news that the Government has scrapped its …

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Highlights of 2018

As you are inclined to do on Hogmanay, I was looking back at the year. 2018 was far from a great year but there were some fantastic moments. Here, in no particular order, are six of mine.

Gabriel in the Commons

 

One of my favourite moments was seeing young Gabriel Hames in the chamber of the House of Commons. Earlier, his mum, Jo Swinson, had taken part in the debate on proxy voting. A few weeks’ earlier, Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis reneged on a pairing arrangement with her on a key Brexit vote that the Government won by a handful of votes.

Jo’s speech was very candid about the realities of working with a young baby:

She also spoke about some of the appalling comments she got on Twitter after that, including the criticism that she had gone to the Trump demo for 45 minutes but couldn’t manage to vote in Parliament, something which would have meant hanging around for 5 hours.

Jo talked about the intricacies of establishing breastfeeding and how you need to concentrate on it during the early days. Her voice cracked with emotion as she talked about the difficulties she had establishing breastfeeding with her first son. I actually cried too as I remembered what it was like to be syringing expressed milk into my baby, 19 years on. She got there, though, with all the support that she needed.

She was also open about the realities of expressing milk several times a day. I think it’s fantastic that she posted a picture of her breast pump on Instagram the other day.

She talked about the need to have proper breastfeeding and expressing facilities for all nursing babies who work on the Parliamentary estate, recognising it was easier for her as she had her own office and control over her diary.

The People’s Vote March

It doesn’t get much better than being amongst 700,000 like minds on a beautiful hot Autumn day. As someone said at the time, marches like this are rarely on the wrong side of history.

It was an amazing atmosphere. Not far off three quarters of a million people peacefully and with great humour, coming together to make their point.

And there’s young Gabriel again.

Radical Kindness

Another highlight was the fringe meeting we held at Conference, trying to inject some kindness and warmth into a horrible atmosphere which developed in the media surrounding  rights of transgender people.

Barely a week goes by without some ill-informed attack on trans people or the charities supporting them. However, in an hour in Brighton, Emma Ritch from the Scottish feminist organisation Engender and James Morton from the Scottish Transgender Alliance talked about how the atmosphere was so much better in Scotland and how feminist and LGBT organisations worked together in an inclusive way. The meeting loved the concept of “radical kindness” which underpinned their dialogue. You can read all about the meeting here

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How dare we treat our friends and neighbours like this?

If you go to the shop and buy an iron, say, you expect it to work and for any manufacturer’s claims or guarantees to stand. You are entering into a contract that can’t be mucked around with. I should emphasise at this point that I would never buy an iron. The quality of my life improved immeasurably when I gave up ironing. But that’s beside the point.

You wouldn’t stand for the manufacturer contacting you a few weeks’ later telling you that you had to pay another £20 for the iron, or reducing the guarantee period.

Yet this is exactly what our government is doing to many people in this country.

Every time I see that Home Office tweet telling the 3 million EU citizens in this country that they will have to apply for settled status, I get angrier.

I am furious that my friends, my next door neighbours, the surgeons who saved my husband’s life two years ago, the nurses who looked after him and comforted him through a terrifying experience, my colleague and so many of my friends’ spouses or children are being put through this.

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3 December 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s been a busy day, perhaps not a great surprise as the Brexit debate in the Commons reaches its denouement…

  • Cable: Halt “egregious imbalance” of May vs Corbyn Brexit debate
  • Lib Dems back amendment to stop no deal Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Govt have held Parliament in contempt
  • Govt remain clueless on immigration
  • Lib Dem peers defeat Government on civil liberties (see here for our earlier coverage)
  • PM must stop pandering to the Saudi regime
  • Lib Dems lead fight for renters’ rights
  • Govt must publish Brexit legal advice

Cable: Halt “egregious imbalance” of May vs Corbyn Brexit debate

Today Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable has called on the …

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29 November 2018 – today’s press releases (the 500 miles edition)

Later than usual this evening, as I’ve spent the evening at a Proclaimers concert, courtesy of my lovely wife… it wasn’t 500 miles away…

  • PM leaving us in the dark on immigration
  • Cable: May “running scared” of real opposition
  • Lib Dems warn BBC that ‘Brexit debate’ may breach Ofcom code
  • Government has let down victims over second Leveson Inquiry

PM leaving us in the dark on immigration

Theresa May has today refused to confirm when the immigration white paper will be published. She was asked by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb after Ministers originally promised to publish the white paper last year, but that deadline has …

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24 November 2018 – today’s press releases

So much for the Conservative and Unionist Party, I guess…

  • PM’s immigration plans a disaster for economy and public services
  • PM puts Gibraltar in jeopardy

PM’s immigration plans a disaster for economy and public services

Responding to the announcement of the plans to issue low-skilled migrants with 11-month visas, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperon, Ed Davey said:

Theresa May’s plans would be disastrous for our economy and public services. Not only would these restricted visas put off skilled workers from working in the UK, but they simply won’t be able to fill gaps in sectors such as the NHS, social care and construction due to

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21 November 2018 – today’s press releases

Having completed another meeting of the Federal International Relations Committee, featuring an exploration of the distant reaches of Article 7 of the Federal Constitution of the Party, your editor’s mind turns to press releases…

  • Moran: Gov must recognise state of Palestine
  • Cable: Prokopchuk’s Interpol position is still ‘an insult to the victims of the Salisbury attack’
  • Sanctions needed to get Matthew Hedges home
  • Davey: PM must publish immigration white paper now
  • Lib Dems announce Siobhan Benita as London Mayoral candidate
  • (covered separately here)

  • Lib Dems lead fight to protect vulnerable people in care
  • Davey: Something going very wrong in energy market

Moran: Gov must recognise state of Palestine

Liberal …

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19 November 2018 – today’s press releases

No music today, I’m afraid, for we have another clutch of press releases, including one which some of our readers might vaguely recognise as an overdue recycling of an old theme…

  • PM must come clean on immigration plans
  • Lib Dems: Only alternative to Brexit is a ‘People’s Vote’
  • FOBT change finally ending cruel grip of industry on vulnerable people
  • It’s time Fox was given his P45
  • Tories can no longer bury Brexit truth

PM must come clean on immigration plans

Responding to Theresa May’s speech to the CBI conference this morning, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Theresa May is desperately trying to win over the

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12 November 2018 – today’s press releases

This feature is now back on UK time, and so, here’s what we’ve got for you this evening…

  • Welsh Lib Dems Investing in Teachers
  • Brexit can be stopped but Corbyn must get out of the way
  • Ed Davey: Hostile environment must be completely scrapped
  • Brake: Corbyn must listen to Brown

Welsh Lib Dems Investing in Teachers

Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced the single biggest investment in support for Wales’ teachers since devolution through a groundbreaking £24m package to help teachers deliver Wales’ new curriculum.

The National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL), announced today by the Education Secretary, will focus on professional learning and …

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Lib Dem fury at Windrush betrayal

So, under cover of an incendiary and irresponsible statement by the Prime Minister on Brexit, the Home Office slips out a statement announcing that it is betraying the Windrush Generation by denying some of them the citizenship that it rightfully theirs.

From the Independent:

In a statement issued late on Friday afternoon, the Home Secretary said a number of Caribbean nationals who came to Britain between 1948 and 1971 would not qualify for citizenship because they failed to meet the “necessary good character requirement” due to committing criminal offences.

Windrush citizens are supposed to be afforded the same rights as British citizens, so the announcement is likely to prompt renewed accusations that they are effectively awarded second-class status.

You have to bear in mind that the criminal justice system has at times been institutionally racist and a black person going through it would have got a much rougher deal than a white person.

And the “good character requirement” has come under fire this week as, separately, it was revealed that children as young as 10 had been failed on character grounds.

Liberal Democrats have reacted with anger to this news:

The Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality said:

Ed Davey said:

The Windrush scandal was caused by Home Office hostility and inflexibility.

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Time for hard headed realism on immigration

Liberal Democrats members have attacked the proposed Migration paper A Fair Deal for Everyone for reasons ranging from fairness, to morality, to family, to economics. But for a political party, it has another fatal flaw. Its well-meaning, wishful-thinking naivety is just terrible politics. It’s time to get politically streetwise with a bit of hard-headed realism. Let’s ask the tough questions, get back to evidence-based policy and demand better.

Meaning Well and Wishing Are Not Enough

I’m sure the people who wrote the paper and its defenders mean well. And I can see how they got themselves into this mess. Two of the deepest Lib Dem instincts might be put simply as ‘Stand up to bullies’ and ‘Why can’t everyone get along?’ And most of the time those go hand in hand. But at times like these, when the country’s split, hate’s on the rise and things seem to be going horribly wrong, cracks can appear between the two. The proposed Migration paper feels upset at how nasty things have got – and I feel the hurt of that too – and wishes, really hard, that everyone would be nice to each other again. ‘Why can’t everyone get along?’ And so it compromises: a bit for immigrants; a bit for people who hate them and want them all gone. But in the real world, wishing doesn’t cut it, and there comes a time when you have to choose standing up to bullies instead of hoping they’ll turn nice if you only half-encourage them.
In thirty years of the Liberal Democrats, there can’t have been many more wince-inducing juxtapositions than one month ago. On August 14th, Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable said unequivocally that, hard as it might be, there was no room for racism in the Lib Dems. On August 15th, Lord William Wallace – a peer I have a lot of time for and usually agree with – gave an apologetic defence of the proposed Migration paper by saying that we have to pander a bit to racists otherwise they won’t vote for us (I paraphrase, but not unfairly).
The proposed Migration paper has the point of view that policy and the British polity should be kinder and gentler, wishing that people were nice, assuming everyone means well deep down and really agrees with us, and if they don’t yet then compromises in good faith will help them agree with us, and if nothing else maybe they’d vote for us after we tell them we agree with them, really, just a bit, and please, please, don’t hurt us. I can empathise. The problem is that the evidence supports none of it. I believe the Lib Dems backing these proposals mean well. But I’m realistic enough to know that not everyone else means well, and that wishing won’t make it so. The fight to make Britain better can be won. But it will take a fight, and if Liberals don’t put up a fight, who will? It won’t be won by acting as if we’re non-combatants who won’t take our own side in a quarrel, saying, ‘If you don’t want immigrants then you have a point’.
I don’t want to take this unduly personally, but when the proposed Migration paper puts forward a well-meaning compromise and I realise, ‘I’m the son of an immigrant and had this proposed Lib Dem policy been around when my parents met I’d never have been born’, it loses its appeal. That’s the trouble with compromising between haters and the people they hate; it always makes things worse for the ones who are already getting all the flak, but never goes far enough to satisfy those who want them gone. The proposed Migration paper proposes as a moderate compromise that I shouldn’t exist. What would I have left to give on the next compromise?

Stop wishing. Look at the evidence. Ask the difficult questions.

Look back ten, twenty, thirty years: the attitudes and policies and hostile environment against immigrants that are now ‘mainstream’ were confined to a few vicious hatemongers like the British National Party and then UKIP. How did we get here?
Has compromising bit by bit to defuse racists worked or encouraged them? Has mainstream politicians talking about ‘valid concerns’ increased harmony? Has fanning flames extinguished them? Has encouraging xenophobia quietened it?
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Jo Swinson: Why I’m voting for our bold new immigration policy

Over the past few weeks, the debate on our immigration policy has unfolded on these pages and elsewhere. I’ve read with interest the arguments on both sides, and now I’d like to take this opportunity to explain why I’ll be supporting that motion in Brighton on Sunday.

Before delving into the detail of the policy, it’s worth considering the big picture, and the recent troubling developments that form the backdrop to this debate.

Look across Europe, where anti-immigration populists have risen to government in Italy, Poland and Austria. Hungarian nationalist Viktor Orbán won another landslide victory in April; his ally …

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Ed Davey: ‘We were wrong to go along with the Tories on immigration’

The Guardian reports:

The Liberal Democrats were wrong to agree harsh immigration measures such as minimum income thresholds for families, one of the party’s former cabinet ministers has admitted, as the party sets out reforms to “detoxify” the debate.

Ed Davey, the party’s home affairs spokesman who was energy secretary during part of the 2010-2015 coalition, said imposing a minimum income level for British citizens to bring spouses or family from non-EU countries had been devastating for many people and had split up families.

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Engage the People

If we don’t engage with people who oppose immigration, others will

I want to start this article by clarifying that I am pro-migration. That is, I want to see the UK become a country as open to people coming and going as possible – ideally, entirely open. I consider this to be the only Liberal position on immigration, and I need to believe that all of us are seeking to make this as much of a reality as is practical. We are all on the same side here.

I’m also someone who has friends and family who are directly affected by the issues around immigration. This debate is very personal to me, and what I share here is out of a deep concern that we have sound, practical policies that make our country a more open, friendly and liberal place for everyone.

We’re getting something very wrong in the debate over immigration at the moment. Entirely reasonable, Liberal-minded people are making the argument that we should not engage with people who oppose immigration. That, instead of listening to people who take this position, we should tell them that they’re wrong.

This is counterproductive. Moreover, it’s probably not Liberal.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 28 Comments

Migration of people persecuted for their love

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Liberal Democrats abhor the persecution of people on the grounds of their race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity and look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, live together in peace, and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely.

Some nations don’t offer those basic human rights and in such places you may be particularly vulnerable to family-based hate-related domestic abuse or honour-based violence.

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Immigration White Paper

Before a mass of Liberal voices condemns the party’s immigration paper and the related motion for party conference, we need to reflect on two underlying issues: first, that global population growth, combined with weak states and intermittent conflicts across the developing world, and exacerbated by climate change, mean that migration to richer and safer countries is becoming one of the most intractable issues democratic nations will face over the next generation; second, that the white working class in Britain (above all, in England) have real grievances, which we cannot dismiss, and which are partly – though only partly – associated with immigration.

Yes, much of the resentment unskilled people in England feel against incomers is unjustified and misdirected.  That doesn’t mean that we should ignore it: politics, sadly, is as much about emotion as about reasoned argument.   However, we can’t reassure them merely by saying that they are mistaken, or ill-informed.  We have to address those grievances, by campaigning for policies that answer them.

The Leave campaign, aided and abetted by Migration Watch and the right-wing media, managed to present the challenge of immigration as coming from the European continent, triggered by EU free movement rules. In reality, migration from other EU countries has never accounted for the majority of arrivals in the UK in any year, despite the surge after east European nations joined.  The real ‘Project Fear’ in the Referendum campaign was the suggestion that the entire population of Romania and Bulgaria would move to Britain, and that 70 million Turks would follow.  The population of the EU-28, in total, is 500 million.  However, the population of Africa has grown by 500 million over the past 30 years, and current expectations are that it will double again over the next 25-30 years. Across the Middle East and South Asia, birth-rates remain high – closely linked to the subordinate position of women and their limited access to education.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 69 Comments

Now this is how to write a motion on immigration issues

From the last paragraph of the Preamble to our Constitution:

Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services. Setting aside national sovereignty when necessary, we will work with other countries towards an equitable and peaceful international order and a durable system of common security.

That’s a brilliant, positive statement of who we are and what we are against. It’s a very clear statement in favour of free movement of people.

Now have a look at the second paragraph of our new policy paper on immigration to be debated in Brighton:

However, migration today is not the peaceful, equitable, ordered guarantor of durable security that our constitution envisages. Fuelled by the failure of governments to spread economic prosperity widely, some people feel that their concerns about employment, housing, and social and welfare resources are somehow linked to immigration. There has been an alarming rise in hostility to all immigrants, including some British people settled here for a generation or more.

Some people also believe that the earth is flat. We don’t supply them with ropes in case they fall off the edge. We prove to them that they are wrong. The way to stop hostility to immigrants is to challenge the poisonous drip-feeding from the right wing tabloid press and right wing politicians, to to pander to it, don’t you think?

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