Tag Archives: immigration

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?
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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.

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Migration of people persecuted for their love

Embed from Getty Images

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.

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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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Timid, half-hearted and apologetic immigration policy is not the way to tackle prejudice

Remember back in March, I almost spontaneously combusted when I read the consultation paper on immigration. Anything that put the word “robust” before “humane” really didn’t have a place in a liberal party as far as I was concerned.

After I wrote that piece, I became more hopeful at what I thought was a genuine attempt by the working group to engage with members. I know that they received a huge amount of feedback suggesting that they should take a more compassionate and fair approach.

We don’t know what the policy paper says yet as it hasn’t been published but the motion, which appears from page 35 of the Conference agenda actually makes me ashamed.

Let me talk a bit about why it is so important to tackle fear and prejudice. Nigel Farage, the Daily Fail and other elements of the right wing press have spent the last half century dripping poison about immigrants and immigration. They have used immigrants and lately EU citizens as scapegoats, wrongly. The problems we have are as a result of the failure of successive governments to adequately invest in housing and public services. If they had done that, then there would be no need for the right wing to turn groups of vulnerable people on each other.

As we move in to very dangerous times, as Brexit’s economic hit threatens jobs and public investment, when they can’t blame the EU any more, who will the Torykip lot blame next? It sure as hell won’t be them for getting us into this mess. It’ll be disabled people for claiming too many benefits (as if – most can’t get the help they desperately need), workers for demanding such indulgences as a minimum wage, set working hours and maternity leave.

If this immigration paper is an indication of how we as Liberal Democrats are going to stand up for these targeted groups, then we really need to demand better.

The motion is apologetic, timid and half-hearted. Every time it talks about doing something remotely right, it adds in a caveat saying, effectively, “but it’ll save us lots of money.”

It talks about fairness in the title, but there is no underscoring of that in the motion.

It tinkers at the edge of a horrible system that needs to be dismantled and started again from scratch with a new, enabling, compassionate, culture.

I also have a real problem with the paragraph that reads:

Our goal should be a positive, liberal consensus on immigration, partly by rebuilding people’s trust in the system, and that this requires us to listen and engage with those who do link pressures on public services and housing to immigration and to reject the argument that merely labels such people as racist.

That is a worthy goal, but thinking you are going to achieve it with the policies and attitude outlined in the motion is a bit like trying to clean a casserole dish with baked on dirt with a cotton wool ball.

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Bringing your spouse to live in the UK shouldn’t be this stressful

As I write this, I haven’t seen my wife for six months. We have been kept apart unlawfully, me here in the UK and her stranded in South Korea, following a Home Office error which saw her denied entry into the UK for ten years. Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy in action.

Our story is a simple one; I moved to Korea to teach English in 2013, I met Seulgi there where she worked as a bar manager, and we fell in love. I proposed on a cloudy mountaintop in 2017 …

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We’re all horrified at Trump’s treatment of immigrants and children but let’s not forget the UK is pretty terrible too

I tried to avoid hearing the recording of the children crying after being taken from their parents at the US border. I could only imagine their despair and fear at not knowing if or when they were going to see them again. Tiny children, who had no way of understanding what was going on, were thrown into turmoil.

No wonder there were comparisons to torture. Vince had strong, but also salutary words:

It is particularly galling to think that we allowed the Tories to introduce an income requirement for British citizens who wanted to live here with their spouses and children if they came from outside the EEA.

By 2015, this had amounted to 15000 children forcibly living apart from one parent. At least they had the other parent, but even so, this is far from humane.

Since we left the coalition, the Tories have unleashed the full horror of heir anti-immigrant ideology with their “hostile environment.” But could they do the sort of things that Trump is doing. The answer, sadly, is, yes.

Writing in the Metro earlier this week, Celia Clarke, the Director of Bail for Immigration Detainees, described how one man was detained when he reported to the Police while his partner was abroad for a family funeral and his children were taken into care. This was against Home Office policies.

A few weeks ago, a former client of BID’s who had been bailed and reunited with his partner and four children went to report as normal.  His wife was out of the country attending her mother’s funeral.  On reporting the Home Office official told our client that they were going to detain him.  He pleaded with them not to, explaining that he was currently his children’s sole carer.  They detained him anyway and the children were taken into the care of social services, in breach of their own policies and despite BID making representations urging them not to.  In another case, the Home Office sought to justify the deportation of a parent on the basis that the child had already been separated from his parent on several occasions as a result of immigration detention. In other words, they used detention to try and weaken the bond between a parent and child. Unlike the criminal justice system where an independent court has to sanction the incarceration of someone charged with a criminal offence, a decision to detain an individual under immigration powers is taken by an immigration officer and is not subject to judicial oversight.  There is currently no time limit on immigration detention in the UK and no automatic legal representation.

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Vision, compassion and inspiration: Roger Roberts’ essential elements for immigration

Roger Roberts spoke in the House of Lords this week on resettling vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers.

Here is his speech:

I appreciate very much the opportunity to take part in the debate introduced by my noble friend Lord Scriven. We all know that, ultimately, the answer lies in Syria and the Middle East, and somehow bringing together a new understanding there. The whole area is the victim of history. Countries like ours, France, Turkey and now Russia want to impose the most individually advantageous solutions on this part of the world. The United Nations appears impotent in the face of

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Dear Vince, Please stop and think before blaming immigrants

On Wednesday, Vince Cable spoke at an Open Britain event where he talked about EU immigration being “managed” from within the EU. Later in the day he tweeted: “Fully support proposals to ensure that #Immigration is managed. Compatible with membership of #singlemarket and #EuropeanUnion. Pity his government and mine acted too late to stop disastrous #Brexit vote. But not too late to stop Brexit.” So we’ve written him this letter to tell him what we think:

Dear Vince,

We know you’re trying to help; really, we do. We know that you want the UK to stay in the EU; …

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Shocking refusal of citizenship to former Lib Dem mayor

Lib Dem Inga Lockington, the former mayor of Ipswich, has been refused citizenship. It is covered extensively here.

Inga came to the UK in 1979 when she married her British husband. That resonates with me as I moved to the UK twenty-four years ago when I married my British husband. Inga was given indefinite leave to remain at the time, and has been a resident ever since.

Not only has Inga lived in this country, but she has contributed greatly to community life. She has been a councillor for 19 years, and …

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We’re turning away skilled workers

6,000 skilled people were denied entry to the UK last year due to visa caps. The Campaign for Science and Engineering reported on a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office which showed that thousands of workers had been denied entry between December 2017 and March 2018.

The Government have refused over 6,000 applications for skilled overseas workers holding a job offer due to an arbitrary cap on visas, including engineers, tech professionals, doctors and teachers.

Many posts up and down the country are being left unfilled because overseas workers can’t get entry. …

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The cruelty and insensitivity of the Home Office summed up in a single booklet

I had a bit of a sleepless night last night. The coughing started up again before I could take any more medicine so I had to try and distract myself with Twitter. I assumed that the screenshots of an alleged guide for deported people to help them settle in Jamaica had to be fake. Seriously, what human being could come up with this?

But I followed the link and, sure enough, it did actually lead to a gov.uk website. The advice on mental health was even more crass.

When you return, you may face a number of challenges, such as separation from family, friends, personal possessions and property; problems locating family members and friends; difficulties in finding suitable and safe housing; and general difficulties in adjusting to your new environment. Most people adjust fairly well but some people may experience mental health problems. Signs to watch out for are:  difficulty in sleeping, or sleeping too much  feeling sad  being irritable or short tempered  having no interest in the pleasures of life  loss of appetite  difficulty in concentrating or making decisions  feelings of hopelessness or helplessness  thoughts that life is not worth living  suicidal thoughts. If you experience mental health problems, you should:  develop supportive relationships where you can: contact family members and friends and establish supportive and healthy relationships;

If you are one of the Windrush Generation and have just been deported thousands of miles from your children to a place that you haven’t seen in half a century, the advice to contact family members could not be more hurtful and insensitive. This booklet isn’t new. It’s been around for about as long as Theresa May’s “hostile environment.” I really do feel ashamed of my Government sometimes. As Ed Davey writes on the Ad Lib blog, the Windrush scandal exposes the brutality of the Home Office:

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes: Developing a distinctly liberal policy on immigration

If you follow the detailed development of party policy you may be aware that the deadline for written responses to the party’s current consultation papers passed yesterday although the online consultation remains open until 1pm on 12 April. As a member of the Immigration, Refugees and Identity working group I wanted to thank all of those who submitted such thorough responses to our own paper.

LDV has carried some articles about the paper and this seems a good moment to offer my own perspective on some of the criticisms that have emerged – which is by no means to dismiss comments or to attempt the final word, just another part of the process.

The group has taken evidence from a range of experts covering immigration law, the workings of the immigration system, refugees, integration and social cohesion, including attitudinal studies of those who have seen their communities evolve one way or another, due to demographic change. The approach that we have taken in the consultation paper has been informed by this.

We are seeking to develop a distinctively liberal policy on immigration, refugees and identity that is humane, treats people fairly and is effective. It is very clear to me – both from the evidence we have taken as well as any number of stories in the press over the past year and, most important, what I have heard direct from individuals and organisations working in the area – that the current system is failing on all three of these criteria.  The government actively promotes a “hostile environment”; that makes me ashamed. It is one thing to seek to establish a controlled immigration system, but quite another to set up a system which is widely perceived as xenophobic. The UK should be trying to build its reputation as open-minded, open-hearted and welcoming of migrants, for hard economic as well as simple human reasons.

One line of criticism that has come through blogs and the consultation is that the paper is not ambitious enough and is seeking only minor adjustments to existing policy. This is not how I see it: the central proposal in the introduction to the paper is that we should promote a liberal and humane attitude towards migration that will enable people more easily to come to the UK for work, to be with their families and for sanctuary. Reference to procedure is because the group wants a policy that makes the migration process much more efficient (I include accuracy in that), while making sure that this isn’t abused by people smugglers who would bring vulnerable people here illegally. 

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Your last chance to help us build a liberal immigration policy

There’s been a bit of a confusion over the last dates to respond to the policy consultations that the party is running at the moment.

The policy papers themselves give Friday 31st March 2018 as the final date. However, you haven’t missed the boat as the party website says we have until 4th April.

This is just as well, as I have left my response to the 67 questions of the immigration paper until the last minute as usual. I have to say that the consultation paper is one of the most profoundly depressing things I have ever …

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Why Tory pilots for improved integration feel like a microwave dinner

The government’s pilots for improved “integration” among immigrant communities in 5 English councils feel much like a microwave dinner – reheated and lacking fresh ingredients. As the government launches yet another “integration agenda” it’s worth examining how the Conservatives and their friends in the media who support them are in fact, hindering integration in a number of ways.

Government funding for teaching English as a second language (ESOL) has dropped from £203m a year in 2009/10 to just £90m in 2015/16. If it really was concerned about new arrivals speaking English, perhaps cutting funding for ESOL was not the best way of going about it.

When a friend recently complained that some immigrant communities do not integrate, I reminded him that bus drivers, taxi drivers and shop workers (jobs often taken by immigrants) cannot afford house prices where we both live in Richmond Upon Thames. The local Conservative run Council has failed time and again to stick to its target of 50% affordable housing when approving new developments. Until we stop hollowing out communities in this way, and support economic integration, things are unlikely to change.

Another area where the government and elements of the Conservative leaning press have been utterly hypocritical is when it comes to adhering to so-called “British values”. A key “British value” children are required to learn about is the rule of law. Had it not been for Gina Millar , Article 50 would have been triggered without recourse to Parliament.

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17 days to shape Lib Dem policy on immigration

The first events of the Southport Conference last Friday afternoon were three policy consultation sessions. These sessions are the intermediate stage of the policy development process. The first is the establishment of a policy working group which looks at the key issues and takes evidence and then produces a consultation paper to be discussed at Conference and which is also accessible online for members to comment on.

The three papers discussed at Spring will be finalised in light of the consultation and then put to Conference for a final decision.

I went to the session on Immigration. I  should have read the consultation paper weeks ago when it first came out, not on the way down on the train. However, when I did read it, I pretty much spontaneously combusted. I am pretty much a “people should be able to live wherever they want” sort of person. I am not daft enough to think that that is going to fly in the current political environment but I do think our policy should reflect the fact that people are falling in love with life partners from all over the world and we should do all we can to keep them together. 

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Ed Davey: Data protection exemption for immigration will ruin thousands of lives

The Government’s Data Protection Bill is generally good, but its exemption for immigration is a very bad thing. Ed Davey explained why the measure will ruin thousands of lives in his speech in the Commons debate this week.

I want to speak about the actual Bill, not amendments made in the other House. This piece of legislation is very welcome. It emanates from the EU, and I am delighted that the Government are implementing it. This regulation was being formed when I was a junior Minister in the then Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Britain was very supportive of it and was leading on it. Indeed, I served on the Competitiveness Council and formed a like-minded group for growth, on which Britain was leading the way in Europe in developing further the single market in energy and in digital services. It was clear that this regulation was essential for British business, because Britain was leading in digital services and needed this to support our businesses trading across the EU, and to give consumers the confidence that this brings. It was a key area for business for Britain, and we pushed it.

It is therefore particularly ironic that we are transposing this regulation into UK law just as we are pulling out of the EU. The legislation before us is excellent, it has cross-party support and it is a perfect example of why Brexit is a bad idea for the UK. We were highly influential in the conception and birth of this regulation as a member of the EU, but thanks to Brexit, we will not be at the conception and birth of a daughter of this EU regulation. There is bound to be a daughter of the GDPR, given the speed with which these technologies are developing. Inside the EU, the UK fashioned this regulation; we were a rule maker, and we were in control. With Brexit, we will not have a vote, we will be a rule taker, and we will have lost control. There could not be a clearer example of how Brexit will actually weaken Britain’s democracy and sovereignty—the precise reverse of what was promised to the people. Although I welcome this legislation in general, I do fear for the future.

However, I have one massive concern about the Bill. It relates not to what came from the EU, but to what Whitehall has done to the legislation. It used to be called “gold-plating”, but in this case I would call it “dirt-smearing” the regulation. I refer, of course, to the immigration exemption in schedule 2. I am disturbed about that for a number of reasons, some of which other Members have mentioned. However, to get the Minister’s attention, I should say that if the legislation is passed with that exemption, that will put at risk the chances of the UK’s obtaining a data adequacy agreement prior to Brexit—something essential for business and vital for security. The immigration exemption is not allowed under the EU’s regulation; it will be found to be illegal. It is clearly in breach of the EU’s charter of fundamental rights, undermining article 8 on the protection of personal data, article 20 on equality before the law and article 21 on non-discrimination.

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Migration and the liberal dilemma

The Spring conference will be discussing migration policy in Southport, on the basis of a carefully-written consultation paper. This is a particularly difficult topic for Liberals. Almost all of us would prefer to live in a world in which borders were open, and immigrants and refugees were welcomed. But global population growth, combined with state collapse, civil conflict and climate change, are combining to create a rising flow of migrants – driven both by political disorder and economic deprivation – towards the safe and prosperous countries of Western Europe. Many of them are trafficked on their …

Posted in Op-eds | 32 Comments

Willie Rennie: It’s time for pro EU progressives in Labour to speak out

This week, Willie Rennie gave a keynote speech to the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh. He said that all pro-Europeans must step up and called on particularly those supporters of the Labour Party who oppose Corbyn’s position to join with us to campaign against Brexit.

I know many in the Labour Party feel very frustrated by Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Europe.

His long standing Bennite antipathy.

His lacklustre participation in the referendum.

His failure to put any real pressure on the Conservative Government.

His oscillating position on our future relationship with our neighbours.

When we look back at this time people will be astonished at the leader of the opposition.

Labour has a big responsibility.

It cannot stand by as we are made poorer, are more divided, and are rejecting our neighbours.

My warning to Labour moderates is this.

The people are running ahead of the people’s party. People want the final say on Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn is not playing a long game on Brexit. He does not have a masterplan to swing into action at the last minute.

You will get to the last minute.

You will check your watch and he won’t be there but Brexit will be.

It is time for pro-EU progressives in the Labour Party to speak out.

To those who are angry and frustrated with their leadership now is the time to speak out.

Vague complaints about Brexit won’t be enough.

You need to show how to escape from it.

Join us to make that case before it is too late.

He also set out very clearly that Brexit is not inevitable:

If I started talking about life after Brexit people might think that even I think it is unstoppable, inevitable, irreversible.

So that is not what I will address this evening.

Especially as in 2018 people are starting to think again.

And we now know Article 50 can be stopped.

It’s remarkable that 20 months on from that vote, the UK Government is still no clearer on what it wants to achieve by Brexit beyond broad wishful thinking and formulaic incantations.

Tonight I am going to look at the new evidence on the costs of Brexit to the UK and Scotland.

I am going to show how the public is taking note of these costs and that minds are changing.

Here is the speech in full:

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Our Immigration System is not fit for purpose!

There was a time when a letter in support of an Asylum claim from an MP or Peer would be pretty certain of a reply from the Home Office. People have received permission to stay in the United Kingdom following such letters. Deportation decisions have been reversed. It is not too much to claim that lives might have been saved.

That is not the case today. I myself am still waiting for six or seven responses.

Tens of thousands of Home Office decisions on an individual’s status have been declared unsound. – the initial decision found to be wrong and reversed on appeal. In 2005, 13,221 decisions were declared unsound. In 2010 , 35,563 decisions and in 2015, 17,581.

When I get the numbers for the intervening years it could be that there have been a quarter of a million wrong decisions by the Home Office in the last ten years!! A QUARTER OF A MILLION!! If these folk hadn’t gone to appeal they could have been wrongly deported!

Imagine trying to plan the next move. No helpful legal advice. Penniless. The heartache. And all because of a decision that was overturned on appeal. Something is seriously wrong.

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