Update on the party’s immigration policy consultation

Regular readers of this site will probably be aware that the Party has been consulting members about the development of new policy on immigration, refugees and identity.

As the chair of the working group, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond to the consultation: we received around 100,000 words in written submissions and over 900 members responded to our online survey. The working group has been working through your responses and last Wednesday we met to discuss what you have told us and how it will inform the development of our policy paper on immigration.

About a month ago, an article by Lib Dem Immigrants on this site argued that the consultation document asked too many questions about detail and too few questions about questions of principle. I don’t think this is exactly fair as the opening section of the consultation document asked exactly these kind of questions and none of the responding members felt constrained in the latter stages of the consultation providing comprehensive, robust and rich answers wherever they felt they were necessary.

However, the group is keen to encourage feedback from as many members as possible and it is important that all members have a full say in this process. It is clear that a number of members would like to have the opportunity to give their views to some different questions in order to fully articulate the broader strategy they would like the group to adopt going forward. To enable those members to do that, we are opening a second survey which contains broader questions of principle, including those that were requested by Lib Dem Immigrants:

  • Is it right that the state should be separating family members at all?
  • Is it the job of employers to be enforcing the immigration system?
  • Are there aspects of the current system of border control that lead to people being wrongly excluded, detained, or harassed?
  • How can we convey to the public that migration is not a significant pressure on public services? How can we avoid dehumanising migrants by treating them purely as economic units?

The working group will be meeting again at the start of May and we would like to be able to feed these responses in to that session. The full survey is available online here, please submit any responses by 1pm, Thursday 10 May.

* Adam Pritchard is the chair of the Party’s Immigration and Identity Policy Working Group

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This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.


  • The Immigration system at present is not working. Any policy my party comes up with will lack credibility with the voters due to their disregard of the Brexit result where anxieties about immigration played a huge part in the result.

  • This is really heartwarming to see. I think especially in light of Windrush and the associated scrutiny it has placed the entire Home Office under, I’m very glad more reflection from all our members is being welcomed.

    The drastic and quick turnaround in public perception of immigration in light of Windrush is also proof that we shouldn’t be echoing whatever the current public opinion is, but shaping a liberal future for immigration.

  • Sarah Brown 24th Apr '18 - 6:56pm

    If the Daily Mail are not screeching in blind fury about our immigration policy on the front page then it’s not liberal enough. Go back and do it again and keep doing it again until the Daily Mail start screeching.

    Then make them screech some more.

  • What Sarah said

  • James Baillie 24th Apr '18 - 8:38pm

    I’d just like to thank the working group for releasing this supplementary consultation, which I hope will provide useful additional information and where I found the questions were far better placed for some of the things I wanted to say than on the original form. I called for an additional consultation in my written response to the initial paper, so it’s really good to see that was listened to and I hope the extra feedback is useful in producing a better policy paper.

    I agree with Holly that Windrush should be a wake-up call for us – we have to accept that the scandal isn’t an anomaly, it’s the direct result of a dehumanising and hostile anti-migrant system built up around the home office, and one that we need to decisively reject in order to get coverage and traction for liberal views on this issue.

  • Thanks Adam – it’s really great to see the working group engaging like this, giving party members every chance to have their say and get their views across. It gives me confidence the policy paper will showcase an immigration policy that is liberal. 🙂

  • Tony Greaves 24th Apr '18 - 11:34pm

    Windrush has shown that the Home Office is dysfunctional. It is institutionally bureaucratic and prejudiced, its internal operational ethic is top-down and target-driven, it is carelessly cruel. The result is that its outcomes are erratic, often illogical, and arguably racist. It’s like the DWP but far worse.

  • Also, and hold onto your hats here people: what Tony Greaves said. Yep, you read that right. I am agreeing with Lord Greaves. There should possibly be some sort of commemorative statue.

  • I agree with Andrew, and I’d add that it’s a mischaracterization to claim the problems cited with the original consolation were that it “asked too many questions about detail and too few questions about questions of principle.”

    Rather, the problems were that the questions assumed too much of the current inhumane, vicious system could be kept. The principles being asked about included calling into question fundamentals of our party, such as freedom of movement, which should be a given.

    Questions of principle aren’t necessarily better, and questions of detail can be fine as long as they stem from the principles of liberalism. It all depends on the particular principles and the particular details.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 25th Apr ’18 – 8:08am
    Is it right that the state should be separating family members at all?
    Is it the job of employers to be enforcing the immigration system?
    No. Of course, employers who exploit the current severe system to exploit vulnerable immigrants should be pursued
    Are there aspects of the current system of border control that lead to people being wrongly excluded, detained, or harassed?
    Undoubtedly yes……….

    In that case can anyone explain why only three of our MPs voted against the motion despite warnings that these terrible miscarriages of natural justice would occur?

  • paul barker 25th Apr '18 - 1:33pm

    “more than 900 Members” answered the online survey or to put it another way “less than 1% of the membership.” A survey that is ignored by 99% is not a survey, its a gesture.
    Launch another Survey with a maximum of 4 questions & publicise it & I will believe that you actually want to know what (some) members think.
    On the more general points I agree with Sarah Brown, Jennie & Tony Greaves.

  • Peter Hirst 25th Apr '18 - 4:05pm

    A modern immigration policy must be firstly transparent so at least we know what is going on at present so we can improve it. We must know who is entering and leaving and how many illegal immigrants we have. Making it unattractive for people to enter illegally would prevent it – hefty fines rather than deporting those who have lived here more than say five years might deal with this issue. When someone is entering, there should be a statement of possible family members so we know how many people we’re admitting and these should be added to the figures.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 25th Apr ’18 – 4:27pm…………@expats, ‘In that case can anyone explain why only three of our MPs voted against the motion despite warnings that these terrible miscarriages of natural justice would occur?’….No I can’t explain it, but I can guess and also guess the justification. But that doesn’t we can’t search for better principles and policies for the future…………..

    But, Ian, we HAD the ‘principles and policies’ then; they were just deemed to be ‘flexible’..
    Our problem is to convince the public that we have changed. Those who still applaud our time in coalition do the party a great disservice…

  • Good survey – have just filled in with some thoughts. Let’s not go down the same route of our Welfare working group that was so trapped in the language and framing of our opponents that we ended up adopting some truly awful policy. I hope this group sees it as a warning of blinkered thinking.

    Perhaps a deadline extension though – I’ve only heard about this survey today.

  • Sorry just spotted the article and comments are 3 weeks old – thanks for tweeting to highlight the deadline, was a bit busy with elections to notice at the time!

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