Welcome to my day: 18 April 2022 – in search of serenity…

Liberal Democrat Voice comes to you today from what is claimed to be the world’s oldest extant sovereign state, the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. For those who might not know, San Marino is about one-three hundred and fortieth the size of Wales and sits about ten miles inland from Rimini, on Italy’s Adriatic coast.

But we’re still talking about Rwanda, aren’t we? I wrote about the emerging plans to send asylum seekers to the East African country on Thursday, and as the proposals become clearer, they get worse. The idea that we’re going to pay the Rwandan Government to accept legitimate asylum seekers so that we don’t have to is a stain upon our nation’s reputation. And, of course, the proposals do nothing to address the people smugglers and criminal gangs who will continue to prey on desperate people.

What I was reminded about by the debate which followed was that there are some who callously and deliberately conflate seekers of asylum with economic migrants, and others who either deliberately or through a lack of knowledge, exaggerate the number of refugees reaching our shores. So, here’s the definition of refugee, courtesy of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees;

A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

You’ll notice that purely economic migrants don’t meet those criteria.

What else can we look forward to this week? Will there be more fines for the Prime Minister, and will it make any difference? We’re already seeing the sort of defence that suggests that, no matter how many breaches of the rules he is found guilty of, sufficient Conservative MPs will once again sell out whatever principles they have for a man who has precious few. It’s seventeen days until polling day though, and postal ballots are hitting doormats, so the British public may yet have something to say in this regard.

But this administration is beginning to have a decided air of 1992-97 about it, as a series of stories, either accusing Conservative MPs of wrongdoing, or being found guilty of serious offences, break. Unlike the Major administration, this one can sustain far more damage, but what are the long term effects and which opposition party will benefit?

And with that, I’d better get on, so to those of you campaigning, the best of luck and a fair wind for you all.

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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27 Comments

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Apr '22 - 9:00am

    “You’ll notice that purely economic migrants don’t meet those criteria.”

    Mark – what about people fleeing their countries because of starvation? Some might call them ‘economic migrants’ but are they supposed to be abandoned to starve?

  • Brad Barrows 18th Apr '22 - 9:10am

    @Nonconformistradical
    You are rightly drawing attention to the fact that our moral obligations should exceed our legal obligations – and yet we have an immoral government trying to find ways to avoid meeting even our legal obligations.

  • James Kinsey 18th Apr '22 - 9:37am

    There are over 85 million refugees in the world …
    Billions of people live in abject poverty ..
    How many refugees should we accommodate each year.
    Are you advocating an open door policy …
    I’ve a feeling those are the questions the electorate would want answers to.

  • James Kinsey 18th Apr '22 - 10:08am

    Martin ….In the absence of putting any numbers forward as regards what would be acceptable .
    I’m assuming that anyone that arrived on our shores fleeing poverty – it would be immoral not to grant them asylum …That in effect is an open door policy in all but name – that’s something you’d not be prepared to debate …& that the electorate would find unacceptable.

  • Roger Roberts 18th Apr '22 - 10:17am

    Priti Patel a week or so ago admitted that only 12,000 Ukranian Refugees had arrived in the UK compared to the millions elsewhere – Poland in the lead with, is that 3,000,000 ? Her Rwanda resettlement plan once again starts with a PLAN not PEOPLE !

  • Helen Dudden 18th Apr '22 - 10:21am

    There should have been a more joined up effort on the issues of immigration. Simply throwing money at a situation does not necessarily improve anything.
    Just look at the oven ready situation of Brexit. The real reasons why it came into being.
    So little lack of transparency, in so many government decisions.
    I was listening last night to some Brits settled in France, they have concerns about their future.

  • Since Climate change has entered the discussion, I would like to highlight the IPCC’s recent clarification: Climate change: Key UN finding widely misinterpreted.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-61110406

    This includes the following: “We definitely don’t have the luxury of letting emissions grow for yet another three years,” said Kaisa Kosonen from Greenpeace.
    “We have eight years to nearly halve global emissions. That’s an enormous task, but still doable, as the IPCC has just reminded us – but if people now start chasing emissions peak by 2025 as some kind of benchmark, we don’t have a chance.”

    Perhaps this issue should rise, significantly, in the Party’s priorities!

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Apr '22 - 10:45am

    @James Kinsey
    “I’m assuming that anyone that arrived on our shores fleeing poverty – it would be immoral not to grant them asylum …That in effect is an open door policy in all but name ”

    So what criteria would you regard as most important if the country was to prioritise applicants for asylum and take a proportion of those qualifying? How many do you think the country could take? What should happen to the rest of them?

    @Martin – I was thinking about the definition of a refugee and whether it needed revising.

  • Helen Dudden 18th Apr '22 - 10:59am

    Patel has dug a deep hole. Her family came to this country fleeing from oppression, yet she has little understanding or compassion.
    A total disaster is what we live with, how many of us would have believed that Johnson would cause this much mayhem.

  • James Kinsey 18th Apr '22 - 11:05am

    @Nonconformistradical….
    Ultimately it’s the electorate who’ll decide which party has an asylum system that they deem fair & just…
    & in my experience – it’ll be one that’s is far less generous & far more robust than many would be advocating on these pages …To think otherwise would be foolish…

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 18th Apr '22 - 11:31am

    @ James K.

    So, in your case, is it deliberate or a lack of knowledge?

    But, as has been explained, the criteria for defining a refugee are quite clear. And, given that 96% of refugees head to a neighbouring country and await a time when they can return, your attempt to frighten the horses with potentially vast numbers should be taken as mischief making at best.

    @ Nonconformistradical,

    You make an interesting point, but I’d suggest that a combination of short term and long term measures – a properly targeted development aid package, plus disaster relief if needed, combined with real action to address climate change and its effects – would be desirable. Most people, all things being equal, would rather stay in their homelands, and it seems pretty obvious that enabling them to do so comes at a rather lower cost than the alternatives.

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Apr '22 - 11:34am

    @Helen Dudden
    “Her family came to this country fleeing from oppression,”
    If you were thinking about Idi Amin – Priti Patel’s parents appear to have arrived in UK from Uganda during the 1960s i.e. before Idi Amin came to power there (1971).

    Could her parents have been economic migrants I wonder….?

  • James Kinsey 18th Apr '22 - 11:48am

    @Mark Valladares…

    “So, in your case, is it deliberate or a lack of knowledge”?

    No Mark – I’ve knocked on too many doors up & down this country & learnt my lesson the hard way –
    having power denied at the ballot box time and again.

  • @ Mark Valladares, I don’t think you’ll find much serenity by bringing this up again !
    I’m afraid it’s not very helpful to keep saying people are “callously and deliberately conflating asylum and immigration” when all they are doing is pointing out that for many voters the distinction is irrelevant (they’re just worried about too many foreigners, and don’t care why they are here). If that kind of lazy, xenophobic thinking means people vote Conservative, it matters to Lib Dems, and we need to deal with it. This is a really big issue at election times.
    Discussion after your previous article showed we need coherent policies on both asylum and immigration, and ones which voters will support. Right now, there must be a lot of suspicion among voters that the Conservative attitude is not right, but they need a crystal clear alternative from us if they are going to switch and vote Lib Dem.

  • Let’s face it Johnson and his mates could not organise a p…. up in a brewery unless they were attending said party!, not a very intelligent contribution to this discussion I know but I am sick to death of this so called government who have lost any semblance of decency and respect!!

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 18th Apr '22 - 1:13pm

    @ James K.,

    If you’re telling people that, potentially, millions of refugees may be heading for our shores, then you’re simply scaring people into a reaction that isn’t likely to be very positive.

    @ Andy D.,

    The serenity was very nice, thank you, as was San Marino.

    If the public don’t understand the difference, then that’s unfortunate but hardly unreasonable when the debate is framed in the way it is. But when someone is making a case that conflates immigration and asylum, and they do know the difference, and do it anyway, I’ll happily stand by the phrase “callous and deliberate”.

    I seek a higher standard from people who campaign for the power to make laws that affect others.

  • Malcolm Todd 18th Apr '22 - 2:33pm

    Brad Barrows 18th Apr ’22 – 9:10am
    “@Nonconformistradical
    You are rightly drawing attention to the fact that our moral obligations should exceed our legal obligations – and yet we have an immoral government trying to find ways to avoid meeting even our legal obligations.”
    Excellently well put.

  • Roger Roberts 18th Apr '22 - 2:33pm

    In our newish movement Humanitarians Together I have an outstanding group of people of many faiths and many politicsal tendancies ( even one Tory !) one in paricular has put her finger on a cause and that is we need to give far more thought to ending those issuers that lead to people having to emigrate – global warming and such. But who could predict Putin causing millions in the Ukrfaine to flee or the Taliban creating a catastrophic situation in Afghanistan. We’ll have much more on this very soon.

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Apr '22 - 3:13pm

    @Mark
    “I’d suggest that a combination of short term and long term measures – a properly targeted development aid package, plus disaster relief if needed, combined with real action to address climate change and its effects – would be desirable.”

    I agree with you – but our so-called government has been cutting overseas aid instead

  • Matt Wardman 18th Apr '22 - 3:45pm

    You missed one out.

    Slightly smaller than Rutland.

    🙂

  • Jenny Barnes 18th Apr '22 - 4:59pm

    How about allowing refugees to cross the channel on a proper ferry if they paid the same as they are currently paying the smugglers?

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 18th Apr '22 - 5:19pm

    @ Matt W,

    Much smaller than Rutland (about six San Marinos would fit into Rutland) but the uphill stuff is much greater, as I can testify…

    @ Jenny,

    I don’t think that state sponsored extortion is much of an improvement…

  • @ Jenny Barnes,”How about allowing refugees to cross the channel on a proper ferry”.

    Are you suggesting that P. & O. should be allowed to extend their extortionate and highly dubious practices ?

  • Helen Dudden 18th Apr ’22 – 10:59am…..A total disaster is what we live with, how many of us would have believed that Johnson would cause this much mayhem?…….

    Anyone who has followed his personal and political career…
    An inveterate liar who cares only for himself.
    A man who has no belief except personal gratification..
    A man who has surrounded himself with sycophantic ‘yes men’ (and women) who owe their positions, to the exclusion of truth and morality, to supporting him ‘come what may’ ..
    And that is just for starters..

  • nvelope2003 18th Apr '22 - 9:14pm

    Jenny Barnes/Mark Valladares: Maybe if paying that amount gave them entitlement to benefits, jobs etc and the right not to be held in some detention centre or hotel while they looked for work.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Apr '22 - 10:07pm

    Meanwhile…
    Rwanda genocide survivors moved out of hostel so Priti Patel could inspect it
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/23/rwanda-genocide-survivors-moved-out-of-hostel-so-priti-patel-could-inspect-it

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