Tag Archives: immigration

Welcome to my day: 13 May 2024 – and then there were two…

Natalie Elphicke? Really?

Well, you have to admire whoever it is in Labour who is handling Tory defectors – they’ve managed to smuggle out one of the more unlikely “converts” to their cause. And, if you really wanted to engender a sense of paranoia amongst the Conservative leadership, what better than to recruit someone like Natalie? Is anyone with a blue rosette above suspicion now?

But, beyond the Westminster bubble, how does this look? What message does it send in terms of principles? How big does a “big tent” get to be and still retain any sense of exclusivity?

Now, I do get it. We’ve welcomed a few controversial recruits over the years – I won’t name names and you’ll all have your own ideas – but in most cases, there was a big political principle at stake. And whilst, as I’ve noted in the past, expecting any new recruit to sign up to every dot and comma of our policies is naive at best, it should be reasonable to expect a significant philosophical overlap.

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Focus on migration Part 1 – Visa Rule Changes

It is a sure sign of an incumbent government in desperate straits that they turn towards anti-migration policies come election time – and so we see the deeply damaging tactic once again from the Conservatives with their recently announced migration policies. I have faith that the British public will not fall for it. In this article I will focus on the changes to the visa rules recently announced by Cleverley. In future articles I hope to discuss developments with the asylum and Rwanda policy.

The increased family visa income requirement

In April 2023, the median full-time UK income was £34,963 (ONS). The new income threshold for family visa is £38,700. This means that more than half of hard-working UK individuals would not be able to bring their loved ones to live together in the UK. I suppose the government is saying one of two things with this announcement. Either one should be punished for failing to display the proper affection for Britannia, having fallen in love with a foreigner or if you are not an upper management or finance type working in London, then you don’t deserve to live together with your loved ones.  Or thirdly, you should emigrate from the UK to live with your family, which ironically will further increase the net migration figure. This is an intolerable attack on the private lives of all but the highest-earners. 

The increased work visa income requirement

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What if the Home Secretary is right?

As someone who was brought up under communism in Poland, I never dreamt that Eastern Europe could change so much in such a relatively short period of time. I never thought that I would be able to travel or work freely in another European state. I never knew what diversity is. I rarely had an opportunity to talk to people from other countries or nationalities. But I remember that I always had a strong desire to meet people of other ethnic or faith origins. I remember that as a teenager back home, I participated in various events which marked the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This was a very special experience which allowed me to learn more about other churches and see that ‘unity in diversity’ is possible. Visiting the Lutheran Church made me realise that despite some dogmatic & theological differences, we all pray to the same God. This, as well as many other experiences has shaped me as a person which I only realised when I moved to Britain.

Living in Croatia for almost 4 years was also an ‘eye-opener’. It was in Croatia where I had a chance to see a mosque. It is Croatia where I had a real opportunity not only to read about individuals from other nationalities but to live side by side with people from other cultures and religions. I really felt so ‘normal’ and beautiful. 

All these experiences prepared me for Britain which in many ways can be called the ‘laboratory of diversity’. My job in the charity sector and my role as a Councillor give me plenty of opportunities to meet many wonderful people and enable me to build bridges rather than walls. It has also helped me to break down various barriers and recognise the importance of diversity. Settling in the UK, trying to be part of the local community, encouraged me to get to know other cultures and people of other faith groups. The whole experience has broadened my horizons and it made me a more tolerant and rounded person.

Why is it so important now? I do think that the polarisation of the political systems, inability to listen or talk to each other, seeing everything in ‘black & white’ colours means that diversity as well as many other things are seen in a deformed way. This means that our communities are divided and our friends and neighbours are often ‘presented’ to us a threat, invaders or burdens. This hurts many and the healing process to rebuild trust between groups and communities may take a long time. I often wonder whether media and access to social media platforms have changed our attitude towards diversity. Do we, too often, put too much emphasis on what divides rather than unites us? 

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Reality barges into Small Boats Week

As commemorative weeks go, it’s been a bad one for Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman. They waited all year for Small Boats Week only to have it spoiled by Leftie Lawyers, so-called fire safety ‘experts’ and an outbreak of lethal bacteria. 

On top of that, they suddenly had half the country shouting at them about human rights, compassion and other foreign ideas after six people drowned in the Channel. 

Never mind that they had done what their base wanted and blocked safe passages for refugees, given the French state-of-the-art kit to harass the migrants and even bought the immigrants a yacht. 

Ok, not exactly a yacht but close enough, right? They spent £1.6bn and then, inexplicably, no one wanted to move into their Barge of Death. 

You have to feel for them – no one had ever organised a Small Boats Week before, so they were in uncharted waters. Even if they’d had a map, how could they be expected to know what ‘Danger – Rocks’ meant, let alone ‘Danger – Moral and Ethical Hazard’? 

You may accuse them of setting sail without, a skipper, a rudder or even a destination, but what you have to understand about the Tories is that their approach to disaster planning is quite literal. 

Whether you are talking about the Asylum Crisis, the Sewage Crisis, the Housing Crisis, the Cost of Living Crisis or the Climate Crisis, the government knows that failing to plan is the first step in winging it. It gives ministers, backbenchers and tabloid hacks free rein to make up policy on the hoof – what could possibly go wrong? 

You may fret that a backlog of 175,000 asylum cases, costing the government £6m a day in temporary accommodation fees, is a sure-fire indication that something has gone wrong with their immigration policy, but the government knows it’s money well spent. 

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Welcome to my day: 13 March 2023 – a Byrd in the hand?

This year sees the 400th anniversary of the death of William Byrd, one of this country’s great composers. As a Catholic myself, I am reminded that he converted to Catholicism in his thirties at some personal risk given the culture of the day. It is a reminder that state-sponsored attacks on minorities and other vulnerable people is not a new concept, and that the conservative right have never been afraid to secure power through the demonisation of others.

My colleague, writing about the Lineker saga over the weekend, said:

And of course what is particularly ironic is that Tory MPs, who are usually championing the right of people to be as racist, sexist and transphobic as they like in the name of free speech, are now going after Gary Lineker.

There is a perfectly obvious reason for this, which is that not only are these people hypocrites, but they don’t care that they contradict themselves over and over again. It’s all about stirring up anger and distracting attention from their failure and incompetence. Find the smelliest, deadest cat they can find and hurl its foul carcass on the table so that we’ll talk about that rather than stick to the issues that matter.

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Knowsley, immigration, Prevent and the return of the Far Right

Over the weekend, further anti-migrant protests continued in Rotherham and elsewhere following protests in Knowsley last week held outside a Hotel housing asylum seekers.  Roughly 300 people from the local area were involved initially, before around 150 far-right protesters joined later. Some threw fireworks and a group attacked a police van with hammers before setting it alight. One police officer and two members of the public suffered light injuries. Fifteen people were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder, mostly from the local area.

Far-right agitators had played a significant part in the protest from the start. A video purporting to show an encounter between a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man asking for her phone number was shared heavily, initially in fascist circles, with the unfounded claim that the man was an asylum seeker. It quickly gained a wider audience.

Three days before, the far-right group Patriotic Alternative had turned up outside the Hotel with a banner reading, “Europe belongs to the European.” Members distributed several hundred leaflets with the slogan, “5-star hotels for migrants whilst Brits freeze.”

Two days prior to Knowsley, in the House of Commons, Home Secretary Suella Braverman welcomed the Shawcross review of Prevent, including its judgement that the programme had laid too much emphasis on the danger presented by extreme right ideology. “While obscuring the Islamist threat,” the home secretary told MPs, “Prevent has defined the extreme right-wing too broadly, encompassing the respectable right and centre-right.”

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Vince Cable destroys Braverman’s anti international students rhetoric

This week’s net migration figures have driven the Government to set their sights on reducing the numbers of international students. Suella Braverman has had them in her sights for a while, saying last month:

“We’ve also got a very high number of students coming into this country and we’ve got a really high number of dependents. So students are coming on their student visa, but they’re bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa. Those people are coming here, they’re not necessarily working or they’re working in low-skilled jobs, and they’re not contributing to growing our economy.”

As Business Secretary during the coalition years, former Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable was in charge of international student numbers and had numerous battles with then Home Secretary Theresa May about them.

Writing on Medium, he has taken Braverman to task about her anti student rhetoric.

Preoccupied by the headline numbers, she has promised a ‘crack down’. This is to take the form of cutting visas for dependents — that is, married students — and for those seeking ‘low quality’ degrees. I recall the same pejorative language being used to dismiss any university not in the Russell Group. Other than sheer academic snobbery, it is difficult to see the substance behind this distinction. In ‘left behind’ parts of Britain it is often the less fashionable and less prestigious, but good quality, new universities which are a mainstay of the local economy. It is reassuring to hear that the Chancellor is warning that the proposed ‘crackdown’ will ‘harm the economy’ and that the Education Secretary is committed to defending British universities.

He highlights the benefits that international students bring:

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Reality moves us closer to Europe

As Britain’s nationalist government implodes after transitioning from a self-believer to a true believer at the helm, geopolitical reality has crept up on the political opportunism of the previous administration—and the narrow ideology of its successor.  

Dalliances with distant and divergent America, India, and Australia have proved to be no match for the integrated single European market on our doorstep.  A market of nearly half a billion people even without the United Kingdom, the value provided by the European Economic Area nations in goods, services, capital, and people—its four central pillars—can be seen more clearly now that we have been cut adrift.  The most immediately visible deficiencies are the goods and labour shortages now plaguing the UK.

By contrast, the much-vaunted post-Brexit trade agreements lie mired in the mud.  A deal with India is reported to be on the verge of collapse after Home Secretary Suella Braverman questioned the idea that Indian immigration—a prerequisite of any agreement—would be on the same basis as that recently accorded to Australia and New Zealand.

Tory anti-immigrant sentiment risks scuppering trade and barring badly needed workers as Braverman follows in Priti Patel’s footsteps as another immigration hardliner; despite also being the daughter of non-white, non-European newcomers, and surely aware of the great contributions Indian subcontinent and Ugandan Asian immigrants have made to the UK.

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Cabinet Minister suggests tax cuts for women who have more children

One thing that we have all learned in recent years is to be wary of saying that the Conservatives have jumped the shark because they will likely do something even worse the next day.

However today’s Sun report, that an actual current Cabinet Minister has suggested that women be given tax cuts to persuade them to have more children in order to “wean the country off its addiction to immigration” is a definite contender for the shark jumping accolade. This is an idea that comes from Orban’s Hungary, where women with more than four children don’t have to pay any tax for the rest of their lives.

Where do you begin with this one?

Let’s start with the fact that a series of unfortunate  Conservative Government actions,  culminating in the recent crashing of the economy, has made it increasingly difficult for any young person contemplating having a family to either buy a house or rent one that is suitable for a family. I was talking to a family member who had been hoping to buy a house next year. Their predicted mortgage payments had almost doubled, making the prospect impossible.

This also from a Government whose actions have ensured that 27% of children in the UK are living in poverty – and that was before the cost of living crisis. Three quarters of those children have parents who are in work. A perfect storm of benefit cuts (including the despicable removal of benefits for third and subsequent children), soaring childcare food and energy costs are about to make their completely preventable suffering much worse.

Not only that, but women already pay most of the price for having children in terms of lost earnings over their working life and pensions after as well as facing maternity discrimination in the workplace.

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Wimbledon, strawberries and immigration

I really love sports! I remember that as a child, I could easily spend hours playing football, basketball, or badminton. Winning or losing a game, belonging to a team, communication & learning; sport gives us so many important lessons which can shape our adult life. When I moved to Croatia and then Italy, football was such a powerful way to meet new people. At the beginning, I didn’t speak Croatian or Italian so sport was a fantastic way to build new friendships and learn basic words in both languages. All of these experiences helped me a lot to feel less isolated and more valued. They helped me to break down barriers & feel more confident. Sport also creates ‘Community Champions’ and enables people to integrate better in their communities.

I like tennis and Wimbledon is one of my favourite tournaments in the annual calendar. There is drama, a bit of shouting and some fantastic matches. Strangely, strawberries and Pimms are often associated with this most famous grass competition in the world. Most people would argue that there is very little correlation between strawberries and tennis. However this year, while watching Wimbledon, I wondered what the impact of Brexit in the agriculture sector is.  

Although the Government increased the number of seasonal workers visas from 30,000 to 40,000, according to the Home Office, this offer was taken up by only 28,000 people. Am I surprised? Not at the slightest. If I had a chance to choose, why would I want to come to Britain? Paying for the visa, which as far as I understand is not transferable, demonstrating that I am self-sufficient, by providing my online banking balance, or not being able to extend my stay proves that the policy won’t work. There are far too many obstacles to even vaguely contemplate coming over. It is so much simpler to travel to any other member state or country countries such as Norway, which belong to the Schengen area.

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What is the future of the farming industry in the UK?

Although I come originally from a city called Lublin, in the South-East part of Poland, as a child, I spent a lot time visiting my cousins and grandparents’ in relatively large village close to a city called Rzeszow. I remember Polish harvest, I remember watching my uncle, my grandmothers’ brother, who used to leave the house very early in the morning and who was coming back home very late; often tired but also happy, as the job enabled him to feel closely connected with nature. 

Looking back, I think that farming has been always strongly rooted in the “working culture” of the Polish nation. Today, the situation has changed as young people move to cities to seek and enhance their life opportunities. I remember how hard everyone had to work to feed their families and earn a decent (?) living. My mum tells me that when she was a child, before going to school, she also had to support her parents with e.g. feeding the cows or cleaning the stable. I also remember visiting my auntie in Italy, who was working on the farm. It really was a hard job. I have it easy these days, don’t I? 

I’ve recently come across a very interesting article published in Emerging Europe about the impact of Brexit on UK farming industry. I often wondered what will happen to some sections of the economy when the transition period ends? It is good news that the UK government has increased to 30,000 the number of visas to seasonal workers, who will be able to come to Britain for up to 6 months. Unfortunately, this is where the good news end. This new ‘visa arrangement’ comes with a heavy price. Each work permit will cost £244, which for many interested individuals might be simply too expensive. What is even more interesting is that citizens from some countries e.g. Turkey or Macedonia will pay less (£55) than seasonal workers from other countries e.g. Romania, Bulgaria or Slovenia. Reason? Some countries are not members of the Council of Europe’s Social Chapter. 

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Tories kill off bid to give NHS workers right to remain in UK

On Sunday we brought you the news that Christine Jardine’s Private Member’s Bill to give NHS workers the right to remain in the UK.

Sadly, today, the Tories tried to kill that hope by cancelling all sitting Fridays until the end of March. At best this postpones when the  Bill will be heard.

Christine’s Bill proposed that all health and social care staff from outside the EU would be granted indefinite leave to remain, enabling them to avoid the hellscape that is our immigration system and granting them rights enjoyed by British citizens.

Christine vowed to fight on, though:

Like the rest of our wonderful NHS and care staff, hundreds of thousands of people from other countries are on the frontlines of the Covid pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure we get the care we need.

The UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it. That’s what my Bill would do, and I am deeply disappointed that the Government is not even letting it be debated in Parliament.

I am not giving up. I will urge Ministers again to make Government time available to pass this urgent legislation, which has cross-party support.

The idea that anyone who has worked so hard to save lives during this emergency might one day be forced to leave should be unthinkable.

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Christine Jardine’s Bill to give NHS staff right to stay in the UK to be debated on Friday

Our NHS is under more pressure than it has ever been. As I write, brave nurses, doctors, cleaners, porters, health care assistants are putting in superhuman effort to keep people alive, to comfort them and their families when they can’t and to treat more critically ill people than they have ever had to at the same time before.

And all the time taking the risk that they could be next to be lying there struggling to breathe.

It’s exhausting. And it comes after many of them bust a gut during the first wave. Then they barely stopped to rest before trying to catch up with the routine procedures and tests that they had not been able to do.

After ten months of relentless pressure, many are at breaking point. They are seeing suffering on a scale that they had not imagined.

Every day on my social media, I hear about at least one person who I actually know in real life being admitted to hospital.

As I think of them and hope that they will soon be restored to good health, I think about the stressed health professionals and support staff treating them.

Many of those staff are not UK nationals. Those who aren’t EU citizens with the protections of settled status have the hellscape of our horrendous immigration system to navigate. Every so often, their visas will have to be renewed. That is a hellishly stressful and expensive process.

If you came in to the country on a spouse visa, that will set you back £1500. And you’ll have to pay it again to renew it after two and a half years. You also have to pay £624 PER YEAR in NHS surcharge.

So, that’s nearly 5 grand for the first five years. Then you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. That will set you back another £2400.

We’re at pretty much £7,500. On a nurse’s salary? Are you having a laugh? And if you have kids who are not UK nationals, you have to pay for them too.

Right from the start of the pandemic, Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has been trying to get the Government to give indefinite leave to remain to healthcare staff and their spouses and children.
This week, her Bill is debated reaches its next parliamentary stage. It says:

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Indefinite leave to remain

    1. (1)  An eligible person has indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
    2. (2)  The Secretary must, on request from an eligible person, issue physical documentary proof of that indefinite leave to remain as soon as reasonably practicable.

(3) No fee may be charged for issuing a proof under subsection (2)./ol>

Simple. The right to stay for free for those who have been braving the pandemic, taking that risk, and their families.

Here she is introducing the Bill back in September:

The party has released a campaign video and we can expect more in the next few days:

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Young Liberals demand cancellation of deportation flight – how you can help

Who on earth would deport people in the middle of a global pandemic?

From the Independent:

The Home Office has scheduled a deportation flight to Jamaica on the day England’s month-long coronavirus lockdown lifts, sparking outrage and accusations of institutionalised racism.

Speaking with The Independent, Zita Holbourne, the national co-chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts UK and the organiser of a long-running petition calling on the Home Office to end “mass deportations” to Jamaica, said it was a dangerous step to deport people during a pandemic.

She said she was disturbed to learn the government had planned the deportation flight for 2 December, the day England’s nationwide lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 lifts.

We shouldn’t be surprised at our Home Office’s callous disregard for people’s health.

But nor should we stand by.

Young Liberals are writing to the Home Secretary to ask her to stop this deportation.

Their letter says:

Dear Home Secretary,

The Young Liberals write to you, with support of the wider Liberal Democrat membership and those with other political affiliations, with our concerns regarding the scheduled deportation of up to fifty people to Jamaica on Wednesday 2nd December 2020. We wish to add our voices to those of esteemed organisations such as BARAC UK & BAME Lawyers for Justice, who are urging the Home Secretary to reconsider the proposed action in line with legal and moral considerations.

We note with significant alarm the Home Secretary’s lack of confirmation that a review of Home Office policies will take place to ensure that the Home Office’s current practices comply with equalities legislation.

The ‘deport now and appeal later’ principle underpinning the Home Office’s ongoing Hostile Environment Policy preys on minority ethnic individuals without sufficient money, connections, or support in the UK, acting in a highly discriminatory way.

We wish to reiterate ongoing concerns about the systematic prejudices of the Home Office, with the Home Office failing to implement the total findings and recommendations of the ‘Windrush Lessons Learned Review’, the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ Report on ‘Black People, Racism and Human Rights’, or the 2018 Shaw Report which recommended that the Government should not deport those born or brought up in the UK.

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5 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions in need
  • Lords defeat Government on Immigration Bill

Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions in need

The Liberal Democrats have claimed the Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative Party’s virtual conference will have “disappointed millions who were hoping to hear how he plans to help them through this crisis.”

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions who were hoping to hear how he plans to help them through this crisis.

Instead of an extension to furlough, measures to help the millions excluded from help or a boost to universal credit, we were instead given

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Lib Dem Mum 5: Horrified about immigration

Do you have a problem for Lib Dem Mum? Email [email protected] or DM @lib_mum on twitter in complete confidentiality – only Lib Dem Mum sees messages to these accounts. No one in the team at LDV has access (and for the avoidance of doubt Lib Dem Mum’s views are her own and not those of the LDV team).

All correspondents will be acknowledged, and if you are published you will be given a pseudonym.

I am very excited this week, dears, because I received an actual letter, rather than an email or a DM! I have typed this out myself, but you can see a photo of the original – in green ink and everything – on my twitter account here.

 

 

Dear Lib Dem Mum,

I am writing to you to ask about the horror that is immigration into the UK. What do we need to do to make it easier for people to immigrate into our country and to make the country more welcoming to people who would like to live here?

Yours ever

Horrified by Immigration, Manchester

Dear Horrified

(I hope you don’t mind if I call you Horrified)

You are quite right to highlight that immigrating to the UK is a tortuous, uncaring, expensive, bureaucratic nightmare; the Home Office are unnecessarily cruel and heartless; and the current Home Secretary does utterly evil things when it comes to dealing with immigrants – continuing a tradition that has dogged the last several governments of whatever stripe – yes, even the one with us in. I admit I’m paraphrasing your point a little, but I do not think unfairly.

There’s a lot we need to do to make it easier. I, personally, would start by repealing all anti-immigrant laws (yes, even that one, no, I don’t care if it has some tiny benefit alongside its racism and horror). We’ve only had them for 115 years, we won’t miss them. Then, I would abolish the Home Office. Its actual useful functions (issuing of passports and so forth) could be done by other departments, and its core is too entrenched in racist dogma now to be allowed to survive, and has been so for many years whether the party in charge is red or blue. Thirdly, I would require all newspaper corrections to be printed on the same page and in the same font weight as the original incorrect item. This would have a range of benefits beyond forcing the racist sections of the press to be less racist, but it would help in that regard too. There are a lot of additional educational and cultural changes I would like to make too…

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WATCH: Christine Jardine introduce her Bill to give NHS and care staff indefinite leave to remain

This week, Christine Jardine introduced her Bill to give the citizens of other countries who have been on the Covid front line indefinite leave to remain if they want it. I find it appalling that anyone is put through the expensive, stressful hellscape that is the immigration system and most especially those people who have put their own lives at risk to care for those who have been struck down by Covid. Christine’s speech was one of the highlights of my week. Watch it here. The text is below.

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to grant indefinite leave to remain to health and social care staff; and for connected purposes.

It is fair to say that I did not appreciate that I would need the national health service and its medical staff to save my life until they did. When my hospital bed was surrounded by doctors and nurses in the middle of the night, talking in terms and about things that I was in too much pain and had too high a fever to understand, I did not stop to think about their visa status—and neither, fortunately, did they.

That was a while ago now, but sadly it is a feeling that has been all too common to too many people in this country—our families, our friends and even the Prime Minister—since covid-19 hit our communities this past spring. What has rightly mattered to all of us and all the staff is that people get the best care possible. I do not think it is stretching the point to say that it has felt at times that this country, like most of the world, has been at war with covid-19. Our hospitals and care homes have felt like this generation’s frontline. Again, we have not stopped to think about anyone’s visa status, and neither have they.

Our media these past few months have not been full of stories of foreign nationals in the NHS refusing to work because it is dangerous and puts their lives at risk. No; quite the opposite. What we have seen is row after row of pictures of NHS workers, many of them foreign nationals, who have lost their lives to this virus. We have seen their names; we have read their stories. The 57-year-old healthcare assistant who died on 14 April, and the 51-year-old dental nurse who trained in the Philippines before coming to Swansea and who died on the same day, were both on visas.

Earlier this summer, through the advocacy organisation EveryDoctor, I met someone who had been working on the frontline of this pandemic. A specialist in emergency medicine, he has lost colleagues and knows the daily strain of fighting to keep alive those people struggling to combat the virus, while never being completely sure whether he has been infected himself. He is a migrant. He has been working on the frontline, paying tax and national insurance to the Exchequer, working for us, contributing, but he will in time have to apply for a fresh visa and pay for it—£700.

One reason I find that difficult to accept is that I have been so immensely proud of the way our communities came out on their doorsteps every Thursday to applaud those working in our health and care sectors. I am sure that most, if not all, of us in this place took part. It was spontaneous, it was heartfelt and it was moving—but was it enough? Will it be enough if we have to suffer this winter when, as is widely predicted, the virus returns? I think we all know that the answer to that question is no, it will not. There has to be more, and that has to be down to us in this place.​

Our Government have not yet done enough, either for those born and brought in this country or for those who have come here to work. For all those working in our NHS for the past year, there must surely be more recognition and thanks for putting themselves in harm’s way. The virus has not discriminated in whom it attacks—we are all vulnerable, our black, Asian and ethnic minorities more than any other community—but what we are doing could be seen as discriminating in how we thank those who defend us. It is time we recognised properly the contributions that have been made.

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Observations of an expat: I am an immigrant

Embed from Getty Images

I am an immigrant. I emigrated from the United States to the United Kingdom on the 12th of December 1971.

I had studied for a year in Britain 18 months before and fell in love with the country and one of its citizens and moved back despite the dreary weather and traffic jams.

I did not flee a Middle Eastern War. I did not turf up at Heathrow claiming political persecution. Neither was I escaping a life of poverty in an African mud hut. In fact, if I had stayed in America I would probably be enjoying a comfortable country club existence.

Nevertheless, I feel an affinity with African, Asian, Hispanic, or any person from any race or country who left their homeland to seek a new life. It is not easy to leave the safety net of cultural familiarity, family and friends.

If you are born to a country your acceptance is automatic. As an immigrant you have to constantly prove your worth and justify your decision to uproot your entire life and start afresh.

I feel I have succeeded. I started an international news agency which launched the careers of well over a hundred journalists. My children are all a credit to me as are the 200 boys – many of them now young me – who have passed through my scout group over the past 20 years.

I am not boasting. In fact, I don’t regard myself as particularly unusual. Immigrants in every country have outstanding records of contributing to their adopted homelands.

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WATCH: Christine Jardine stand up for immigrants on Channel 4 Political slot

Channel 4 runs a regular political slot and this week it was the turn of our Christine Jardine to highlight an issue close to her heart. Our Home Affairs spokesperson made a passionate case for immigration and why we need to welcome and support immigrants. This was filmed at the height of the pandemic and she did a Zoom interview with a doctor who was working long hours and taking huge risks, yet still faced exorbitant fees and visa stress to be able to work here.

You can catch up with the three minute programme here. 

 

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UK visa costs will turn away those we need most

It still pains me to admit it, but the reality is sinking in fast: free movement is coming to an end.

Liberal Democrats (and others) fought a valiant fight, but the results of last year’s general election made the majority’s views crystal clear. No more free movement, tougher immigration controls.

So, after a series of delays, the Government’s Immigration Bill – the legislation that will legally put an end to free movement – is making its way through Parliament as we speak. With it will come a whole raft of immigration rule changes, the most well-known being the flagship ‘Australian-style’ points-based visa system.

The pandemic has rightly fuelled a heated debate around the impact this new system will have on those shamefully labelled as “unskilled” workers – our friends and neighbours who help teach our children, treat our sick and look after our elderly. It’s right that as a party the Liberal Democrats continue to stand up for these people, and the Prime Minister’s U-turn over payment of the NHS surcharge for frontline health workers was a good first step in the right direction.

But what about those who, on paper, we see as being at the front of the queue?

Around one third of academic staff working in our higher education sector come from abroad, and over half of those from elsewhere in the EU. But as things stand, the sheer cost and burden of entering the UK threatens to turn away the scientists, researchers and innovators who make an invaluable contribution to our national health and wellbeing. And it will be other countries that benefit from their knowledge and expertise.

Credit where credit is due, the Government has worked with the science sector and others to develop the new ‘Global Talent’ visa category that allows talented and promising individuals in specific research and innovation sectors to work in the UK for up to five years without restrictions such as a sponsor, language tests or a minimum salary threshold.

But the upfront cost of obtaining one of these visas can total more than £2600, compared to around £300 for a similar visa in France, £250 in the US and £0 in Japan. If, god forbid, you want to move here with your spouse or children, those costs skyrocket further.

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After the statues – what next ? A Liberal way forward

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I have been sharing my experiences as a black Briton with my white friends. It has shown me that we need to educate our country on our past. We must develop our history curriculum and widen the outlook of our galleries and museums.

While it took a century to move from landowners voting to universal suffrage, in our digital age, change should be much swifter. We are an evolutionary not a revolutionary country. The Colston statue incident has shown us how the failure of democratic action results in the use of force.

As Liberals and Democrats, we should be proud that our country is all colours and religions and of no faith at all. The question is, how do we explain to all Britons how we got here? As Gary Younge pointed out in The Guardian, America’s sins are on show as they happened within her borders. In Britain’s case they happened mainly abroad, however the template was made in Ireland. Colonial Ireland with its plantations and dehumanising of the native population was a model that we exported to America. Discrimination is a legacy of a Christian nation justifying inhumane treatment with the pseudo science of race classification.

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Daily View 2×2: 20 May 2020

A big day for some people, and definitely an interesting one, to look forward to, and we’ll be covering that in half an hour, but in the meantime, the debate over the General Election Review rumbles on, and we have some history, and some local politics to offer you during the day, with some thoughts on inter-generational fairness in the evening. So, on with the medley!

2 big stories (apart from that one!)

So much for schools reopening on 1 June. It’s already clear that parents aren’t keen, and that the teaching unions are wary, but when Conservative councils (Essex and …

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Dick Newby: Individual stories of Windrush victims shame politicians who use pejorative language and stoke up resentment

In the Lords recently, Dick Newby talked about the lives of Windrush Generation people damaged because of the actions of the Home Office and the need for a compensation scheme.

His whole speech is below:

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Why the Conservative Party can no longer be considered the natural party of business

Our market economy is certainly far from fair but as a result of a series of poor Government decisions, it is going to get a whole lot worse, for businesses and private citizens. The Conservative Party has often been considered the natural party of business, but a raft of policy outcomes on the horizon means this may no longer be the case.

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Assessing the Johnson Government’s new reform narrative

Over the last week the Johnson government’s narrative approach to reforms in the UK  has become more clear.

Johnson’s personal views on eugenics and poverty are a matter of record. ‘The poor being poor due to low IQ’ brings psychological comfort to those born into the luxuries of inherited wealth and private education. So blaming everything on Cummings might be unwise.

Policy more than personal views are however, our subject of concern. At last, the government’s underlying propositions can be clearly stated, as follows:

1. The UK’s low productivity problem is caused by a surfeit of unskilled migrant workers from Eastern Europe, enabling firms to avoid investment in new technology and avoid employee training.

2. UK poverty is the result of low IQ among sections of the population and of a self-perpetuating underclass, aided by single mums and teenage pregnancies.

3. Whilst UK unemployment is low, there are 8million ‘economically inactive’ citizens who, via further welfare reforms and eugenics, can be reduced in number and induced to take up the low paid jobs formerly taken by EU migrants, receiving training by employers who can no longer access low-skilled EU labour.

4. The core aim of a new immigration points system is thus to raise productivity and raise wage levels, and in the process reduce the cost of in-work benefits.

5. Increased national capital spending by the state will stimulate growth from construction contracts and compensate for the negative effects of EU tariffs and other barriers, creating demand for indigenous low skilled labour, (at least until such time as new global trade deals are in place)

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Listening to people about immigration

When I wrote another Lib Dem Voice article a couple of months ago to share some thoughts following the General Election, I had one line in it that said we need to come up with Liberal answers to some people’s genuine concerns about how immigration has affected them, beyond calling them racist. Following that I was called racist myself and told that I shouldn’t be welcome in the Lib Dems.

So before this article I feel it necessary to say strongly, I support the free movement of people, and we should fight tooth and nail for it. In fact if anything, a freer and more open system that encompasses far more of the world would clearly be of great economic and social value to our country and our freedoms.

We cannot, however, deny that a large part of the electoral coalition the Conservatives have built, is around concerns about how migration has affected local communities. Many of these voters are undoubtedly people who in the past ten or twenty years, voted Lib Dem.

In many cases, particularly in rural communities where populations have increased by 20% over the last decade or so, there are very real issues. These stem from a lack of housing to take account of inward migration, a lack of investment in basic public services and a clash of culture and language in some cases, when previously entirely homogenous communities are changed so quickly. We should, of course, support the rights of individuals seeking to work and live in the UK. We should also work with communities to ensure that we invest to reduce the negative effects that some can see. Public service improvements should come alongside new migration, not in reaction to it twenty years later.

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27 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people
  • Lib Dems: Trump to profit from Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems – Immigration detention must be absolute last resort
  • Welsh Lib Dems welcome votes at 16
  • Leaked documents show US offered PR advice to UK over chlorinated chicken

Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people

The Liberal Democrats will today unveil a poster attacking Boris Johnson for lying to the Queen, Parliament and the people.

Another poster will show Boris Johnson flanked by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, stating: “Brexit is good for …

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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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