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.

My preference would be for the policy working group to be reconstituted and the consultation re-run with a view to creating a whole new system, not just tinkering at the edges of something that is clearly not fit for purpose. There are some things you just can’t polish. The current immigration system is one of those things and it needs destroying and rebuilding in a liberal image.

I normally have great faith in the capacity of human beings to work miracles. However, even my optimism doesn’t stretch to thinking that this paper can be made fit for purpose in less than three months before the Conference deadline. I therefore request that it is postponed until September 2019.

Frankly, it was the only way that I could look my friends who have been victims of the immigration system in the eye.

You have until the end of the day to make your views known.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Adrian Wykes 4th Apr '18 - 9:43am

    Our twins are 13 and disenfranchised like yheir parents; we want a party that has a policy aim of full, FULL, E.U. membership as a basis for everything else, please.

  • Adam Bernard 4th Apr '18 - 9:51am

    Worth noting that if you reply via the webform rather than by email then you get lots of examples of “answer this on a scale of 1-5” and very little scope for saying “this is a bad question which assumes that we’re committed to most aspects of the current system, an assumption I wish to reject”.

  • ♡♡ Caron

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Apr '18 - 10:19am

    @Adam Bernard
    “,,,if you reply via the webform rather than by email …”

    True – but since I was short of time completing the survey was better than not doing anything about it.

  • Thank you Caron. And everyone else who’s sent in similar things. There are immigrants in your party and this means a lot to us.

  • Andrew Daer 4th Apr '18 - 11:55am

    Caron: I couldn’t disagree more. The committee has done a great job on the immigration paper, and have highlighted many of the real issues we face as Liberal Democrats, in a rapidly changing world with an expanding human population. I’m afraid to say that writing things like “I’m pretty much an open borders live where you like person” is helpful only in a way you didn’t intend; it shows just how impossible it is to reconcile attitudes which belong to my hippy teenage years with the actual realities of the world. Even if I am wrong, and good intentions are all we need in order to pave the way to heaven on Earth, there is the little matter of the British voters. They were delighted to resolve any dilemma they experienced at the last General Election by recalling the infamous “lie” about student fees – and ruling out a vote for the Lib Dems. If we present them an immigration policy including “free access to the UK for all the World’s poor” which so obviously comes from Cloud Cuckoo Land, we won’t win a single seat.
    Sorry to put this view so strongly, but you have been pretty harsh on those who drew up the policy document, so I think it fair that we all speak our minds!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Apr '18 - 12:10pm


    Too many in politics think speaking your mind is good if you speak exactly as they do, you are entitled to put that view here, that you have, we need all voices to be vociferous , as we are a party of many views.

    The Free Democrats in Germany and VVD in the Netherlands, take very strong and different stances to some Liberals precisely because as you do here , they recognise to go down the open borders road is to end up with the parties of the far right on the rise.

    The old Liberal constitution talked a lot of pie in the sky which is why Labour and the Conservatives were parties of government then and why honest people like Grimond and Gaitskell tried to make their colleagues see a realistic way ahead..

  • I emailed my submission on Saturday it was 13.352 words long but it also included all the words of the questions. Mine also considered the preamble of the constitution however I wrote, “Therefore we are not advocating that the UK should accept the free movement of people while there are still huge economic differences across the world and we haven’t achieved the reduction of world poverty and we haven’t a world of near equal development. It is once we have achieved an equitable world and conquered hunger worldwide that we can have the free movement of all people across the whole world”.

  • Peter Martin 4th Apr '18 - 12:50pm

    @ Andrew Hickey,

    “Andrew, you might want to reread the preamble to the constitution, and see if maybe you’d rather be in UKIP than a party whose constitution commits it to the free movement of people.”

    This is rather a cheap shot. There has been widespread support, across all parties and shades of political opinion, with the possible exception of groupings like the SWP, since at least the mid 60s that immigration controls are necessary.

    I would have thought that this included Lib Dems too. But you say not. Are you aligning yourself with the SWP on the immigration question?

    There’s not too many votes to be pinched from them. They do much worse at the polls than even the Lib Dems!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Apr '18 - 1:03pm

    Andrew Hickey

    I see your comments to your fellow Andrew and Liberal Democrat friend, as offensive and not congenial or in keeping with his views expressed.

    I am in between the, open borders and closed , views, write regularly against the inhumanity of staff at the Home Office, not merely against politicians or our party, like many or some here do.

    But voices like Maajid Nawaz and many i our party are aware that Chancellor Angela Merkel, a good and decent person, was also a misguided and ineffectual politician when pursuing a very open door policy on recent refugees, the result has not been peace and love, but hate and fear. The Free Democrats, far more free for all on economicsand civil liberties than I am, is also to the realistic right of this party, on immigration, indeed, Christian Lindner was very convinced on matters of genuine concern not populist reaction, about the effects of the migrant numbers, on harmonious cohabitation, in his country, in the knee jerk response and recourse to the alt right, that can be the resulting victory in elections, and he had a point.

    We need to do things like abolish the income threshold for partners, and then have free movement of labour, ie with a job, for EU citizens , not for anybody who wants to come here. I am the son of an immigrant, my father came here at a time of very low levels of migration. We had good services then. As Bob Dylan said, the times they are a changing. We need to recognise where our humanity is debased, it is on spouses, it is not on border control, as a mainstream policy.

  • Lorenzo given that Gaitskell was well before your time it may interest you to know that he was opposed to immigration controls.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Apr '18 - 1:14pm


    No, he and Grimond were opposed to the race based rhetoric and ideas of some, and the sort of policies our leader has put his foot in, on his speech rightly condemning those ghastly policy notions of the right at that time.

    I was a boy in the Labour party, studied politics and history at London university, was and am as much social democrat as social liberal, so can have a view on things before my era, like you do on Sir Winston!

  • You’re wrong young Lorenzo.

    Read what he said in Hansard when Labour opposed the 1961 Immigration Bill in November 1961.

  • “I’m pretty much an open borders live where you like person”

    And there, ladies and gentlemen, along with our obsessions with trans and weed is why we are stuck solidly at 7% in the polls. And lucky to have it.

  • Arnold Kiel 4th Apr '18 - 1:43pm

    There is maybe one solution, but just maybe: a 1 Trillion European Marshall-Plan for Africa. If they come, there will be no stopping. LibDem policy consultations are irrelevant in reality, you might as well treat them as the tactical PR-exercise they are.

  • William Fowler 4th Apr '18 - 2:24pm

    Turning the whole of the UK, due to mass immigration, into a version of Hong Kong density housing would not benefit many of the original inhabitants (other than those who sold their house for redevelopment and went elsewhere) and make those moaning about poverty apoplectic with the resulting mess. To do something so radical would, of course, in the interests of democracy require a referendum and we all know where that gets us…

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th Apr '18 - 2:44pm

    Caron, it is good to be reminded that the old Liberal constitution called for a world without borders. This should still be the ideal that we are working towards.
    It is profoundly depressing, as you mention, that this paper mentions the word “robust” before the word “humane”.

  • “… it is good to be reminded that the old Liberal constitution called for a world without borders…”

    A pity really that it was written too early to also include the full texts of Imagine and Kumbaya.

  • I think Arnold Kiel is correct there needs to be a lot more economic aid for developing countries to fight the causes of economic migration at their source.

    Perhaps I just am not seeing what others see. There were lots of questions which I felt the consultation paper didn’t provide enough information to answer but I think there was some balance and it didn’t push people in any one direct even though some questions were leading.
    Below are some of the questions:

    “Question 5: Have we done enough previously to recognise that the rules on immigration are strict and, often, inhumane? How would you promote and explain liberal changes to immigration to try and lead public opinion?”

    Question 6: Can you provide examples of ways in which a more humane system would save money and enable us to more effectively monitor migration? Would you support a system that was more humane for the majority of migrants and which enabled targeting of resources at illegal immigration, including border control?

    Question 7: Considering the past 25 years, in what ways has immigration benefitted the UK in terms of society and the economy? Are there any ways in which it has been less beneficial?

    Question 23: How can we best promote the benefits to the UK of economic migration? What are the advantages of continuing freedom of movement?”

    Perhaps people can let me know what is wrong with these questions.

  • Lorenzo, I should have added that both Jo Grimond and Hugh Gaitskell both spoke in the Commons to oppose the 1961 Act. Characteristically, Jo said, “Seldom has such a dreadful Bill been defended by such weak arguments” (Hansard)

    The Liberals and Labour both voted against the Bill. I remember talking to my own MP Donald Wade (Deputy Leader of the party) about it. I don’t seem to recall you being on the scene at the time……. But then, what do I know.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Apr '18 - 6:45pm

    As Liberals we have to go on fighting the illiberal policies of this Government and illiberal practices of the Home Office. I want more refugees admitted and looked after, and migrants to be treated humanely. I care very much about the people in this country who have found since the Referendum that they are no longer considered as belonging here, such as the now elderly descendants of the West Indians who came here to fill jobs who never thought they needed documents. So yes, we need more liberal policies, and I have written an email of response to say so.

    Of course I also want EU citizens to continue to have the right freely to come here, and as many non-EU migrants as can be found work and homes for. To assist development of the poorer parts of the world, as of the poorer parts of the EU, is the only continuing answer to meeting the wants of the people who leave their countries seeking better lives. They cannot all be accommodated in the richer countries, and may also if young and strong and given a helping hand come to be useful at home.

  • Peter Martin 4th Apr '18 - 6:53pm

    @ Michael BG,

    “I think Arnold Kiel is correct there needs to be a lot more economic aid for developing countries to fight the causes of economic migration at their source.”

    if Arnold Kiel suggests that anything might be “correct” there’s probably a good reason why he isn’t.

    Economic aid to developing countries can often be counterproductive. It can end up in the wrong pockets. It can undermine local industries rather than support them. If it is in the form of loans it can end up being spent on the wrong things and leave the country with an unmanageable foreign currency debt.

    So before we do any more of that we should look at ways of encouraging local industry without it costing anything. If a country produces cocoa for example, let’s help them develop a chocolate industry. This will happen naturally is we remove tariffs on chocolate products. Similarly with coffee. The EU imposes high tariffs on imports of instant and other processed coffee to protect German industry. Just get rid of them.

    There’s no point handing out large sums of money to set up industries in African countries if they then aren’t viable because of the protectionism of other countries.

  • Peter Martin 4th Apr '18 - 7:02pm

    @ Martin,

    “I thought leading Brexiters wanted the UK to be like Singapore.”

    I think you might have missed many more references to Australia and New Zealand than Singapore with their immigration ‘points’ systems.

    I believe they both have a somewhat lower population density than Singapore, but I must admit I couldn’t put an accurate figure on just how much lower. 🙂

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Apr '18 - 7:55pm

    David Raw

    Could we have less sarcasm , and better interaction please. I do not lecture you on your chosen mastermind subjects just because you were not there, Asquith was pm when you were a boy, if you are to only comment on what you experienced.

    You are right, I , wrong, if you refer only to that act. I was talking in generality of combined principle and pragmatic approach of the two leaders. Not on the 61 act, where they were admirable. Gaitskell and Grimond are my two favourites, you seem to think one great and left wing, one not great and right wing, they were both centre to centre left. terrific.

    Gaitskell was not in favour of the early entry to the Common market and spoke and strongly, of the potential end of a thousand years of history. He. like Grimond, would see today very differently to their era. We did not have immigration of two to three hundred thousand then.

    I am for very flexible rules, that favour connection to this country first, people like Holly above, or my late father. We need to criticise the staff, incompetent and cruel, as much as governments. I am the lone voice here doing that often.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Apr '18 - 8:07pm


    You as often get to the nub. The Home Office, really means an organisation, civil servants, who like that phrase as it gives them a sense of status and describes them in quaint ways that influence the feeling we are supposed to have towards them. For every teacher and nurse there is a placeman and woman in organisations that feed off government. It matters not one bit whether they are public in their employment, or private in there deployment, by government, all they are are officious, officials, with a badge, an imprimatur. They decide for people. When John Reid, who did both good and lousy things as their boss, said they were not fit for purpose, he had in mind that ten or fifteen years later they might have got better, ha!

    Today I see the story of Michael Brathwaite, a man who arrived here aged nine, from Barbados, with his family who came to work, he has brought up children here , born here, they have children, he grandchildren, and he has for two years been hounded by the self same Home Office because they have not got paperwork on him!

    Sir Vince and co should get their priorities right and so should this party, the rules and consultations are not the problem, only, the inhumanity is in the incompetence and complacency of too many.

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Apr '18 - 8:24pm

    “…he has for two years been hounded by the self same Home Office because they have not got paperwork on him!”

    And given the number of incidents where the Home Office has allegedly lost documents – who knows – there might really be some relevant paperwork in existence – just that the incompetent Home Office doesn’t know where….

  • Lorenzo, I’m truly really very sorry, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to tell you that you’re wrong yet again.

    Actually it wasn’t Mr Asquith who was PM when I was a lad – it was Mr. Churchill, twice – (not Sir Winston as you’ve taken to calling him). I did talk with Asquith’s daughter on the odd occasion though. She was quite posh for a West Yorkshire mill owners granddaughter.

    I’ll give Mr Churchill credit for something though – he didn’t take his knighthood until he was 79 – and Clem Attlee was nearly 74 when he got his after retirement. Squiff was 73 when he got his.

    It seems our more modern Lib Dem heroes (?) are in more of a rush to get them these days – and I often scratch my head wondering what they did to get them. Is it a case of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em ? Young Sir Daniel was 43 and went off on a slow boat to China..

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Apr '18 - 10:39pm

    Good response, I like your comedy, but was very furious on discovering the case I mentioned here, mr Braithwaite, the kind of thing makes me very aware how much of a Liberal I am!

    Admire your study of Gallipoli, very poignant.

    You are apposite on honours, I am keen on them very selective in use. In the arts they go to the most famous and successful or in crowd too often. Classic example, Ron Moody, tireless for charity, great performer , lovely man, zilch honours. David Kossoff, same, worked like mad to counsel on drugs after the loss of his musician son, started the Paul Kossoff charity , spoke in schools even as an elderly man, honours, zilch….

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Apr '18 - 11:56pm

    Lorenzo, you are right, I think it was the self-same story, of the elderly man from Barbados, which had caught my attention, and roused my indignation on his behalf. In his or a similar case it wasn’t actually that the Home Office had lost the papers (NCF) but that there weren’t any to prove their long residency here and why they shouldn’t have to pack up and go back to the West Indies which they’d never visited or thought of as home. The same story of inhumanity being suffered by Europeans who have brought up families here over many years and are now being told to leave. I wrote many letters to the Home Office about refugees when Mrs May was Home Secretary, and I couldn’t trust her afterwards to care as Prime Minister for people not readily identifiable as British citizens, who she may think have the effrontery to expect to share our rights. This Government-led hostility to strangers we Liberal Democrats welcome among us, or would welcome (like your mother-in-law, Lorenzo) if they were allowed in, is truly shameful.

  • Arnold Kiel 5th Apr '18 - 8:35am

    I feel compelled to address the “misguided” Chancellor Merkel. She really had no choice when people were already in Hungary and started marching towards Vienna. A leaked German memo which could be interpreted as a suspension of the Dublin-agreement has played a role in this, but this leak was neither instructed nor authorised by her. Hungary had anyway stopped processing immigrants, and Orban was intent on just moving them through. Had Merkel and the Austrian Chancellor Faymann rejected Orban’s request, a humanitarian catastrophe at the Hungarian or Austrian border would have been guaranteed. The German Chancellor wanted to avoid this, and displayed exemplary European solidarity in doing so. She was only misguided in expecting that this would be reciprocated.

    Lorenzo also calls her ineffectual, and I recently heard Ian Dale saying: “Merkel opened the border to a million Syrians, and that did not really work out”. How do they come to this assessment?

    Let me try the simple question of survival: not having heard anything to the contrary, I am assuming that the Syrians in Germany display the same survival-rate as locals of the same age groups. In Syria, 500.000 of a total population of approx. 20 Million were killed (and several Million fled the country). Had they all stayed put, 25.000 men women and children would have died. I am assuming the average chance of surviving the Syrian war, even though it is probably fair to assume that those who fled were on average in greater danger to be killed.

    “Ineffectual? not been peace and love, but hate and fear”? “Did not work out?” I am curious to hear by which measure, superior to saved lives, they support this evaluation.

    Expanding this: Africa’s population of 1.2 Billion is expected to double by 2050. 5% of 2 Billion people is 100 Million. If they chose to depart and could mobilise $ 1000 per head, this would represent a $ 100 Billion people trafficking business, at the current rate of rather $ 5000 per head, it would be $ half a Trillion, about half the size of the world’s total organized crime…. as I said, there will be no stopping.

    But European freedom of movement, of course, is a great problem, and no price is to high to solve it.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 5th Apr '18 - 12:52pm


    Excellent points. We are by every account needed. We must be in tune with the mainstream, not pander to right or succumb to knee jerk, sensible, humane, these are our essential qualities.


    As with David Raw, you pick out one thing I said, not the others, this is regularly the case on here, pedantic is the negative way of describing detailed, I see the latter, thankfully more than the former and so have respect for this, but it would be good to feel support for the many things said here you might or should agree with,such as , describing, Angela Merkel, as “a good and decent person.” Similarly, as I mention the Free Democrats twice or more, so I am as the member of the sister party in this country, and yet to the left of them, thus in keeping with some of the social democrats , or SPD thinking, allowed to have a view somewhere between critical of and understanding towards , Merkel, would you not reckon?! You describe why she was and is all that I say, on the misguided, yes, it is misguided to accept such a number in one go and expect harmony, rather than, as you say, I said, fear. That she has done reasonably in elections, says a lot about her good qualities again, mentioned regularly by me. She was ineffectual, in that she is a cool and low energy personality in her outward manner, the issue requires , oomph, that you correctly explain the reasons, has not been conveyed by her with the degree of anger or resonance needed. Orban should be vilified by her, France should have been criticised by us. Tim Farron was completely one sided in the Syrian refugee crisis, it was all anti May and Cameron, they were”wicked”, how come it was the local French authorities who let those awful conditions called “the jungle” happen?! and where were the local mayor and civic leaders , and border security,there when the refugees were all trying to get from other safe countries , into that one, onto this ?!

    We could be as I am here, fair, not one sided, balanced, heart and head, Liberalism, rather than either virtue signalling, or unrealistic, out of touch, or worse, cave in as in coalition to the alternatives, none is Liberalism.

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