Tag Archives: policy consultations

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 respond to policy consultations

The party’s three policy consultations on immigration, refugees and identity, tuition fees and people and communities close today.

If you have something to say, you can find the information you need here.

My response to the immigration, refugees and policy consultation ran to 4,700 words but yours can be much more pithy.

The introduction to mine was as follows:

I am extremely disappointed with the tone of the consultation document.

This country is crying out for a strong liberal voice on immigration. Nigel Farage, the Daily Mail and the unpleasant anti immigrant lobby didn’t get where they are today by being subtle. They were bold and said things that were seen as way too controversial. In countering that message, we should be even more bold and confident.

Let’s get out of the shadow of the right wing press and be unashamedly liberal.

Any policy paper should be tested against the Preamble to our Constitution. This one is totally incompatible with this section:

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. 

I’m pretty much an open borders live where you like person. Michael Meadowcroft reminded us at the Southport consultation session, the old liberal constitution called for a world without borders. Out commitment to a world where NO-ONE is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity does not end at Dunnet Head or the White Cliffs of Dover.

I was horrified to see that the introduction to this paper had the word “robust” before “humane.” In my view that is pandering to the worst of the Farage/Daily Mail spin and is therefore completely unacceptable.

Posted in Op-eds | 34 Comments
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