Friday, 22 March 2013

Nick right to address but wrong conclusions on immigration

Currently to access the Lib Dems website you have to go through an image of our manifesto from 2010 to highlight our fairer tax manifesto pledge which has been announced in this week's budget. Maybe we should make Lib Dems go through a copy of the preamble to the party's constitution instead.

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.
Why you may ask do I think that? The reason is in the words that Nick Clegg uttered today on the subject of immigration.

Far a start we aim to safeguard a free, fair and open society. Yet we appear to want to put up  barriers for others to enter that society, unless they afford a £1000 bond. Which to me suggests that we are enslaving future immigrants to poverty.

He also seems to suggest that they should know English to a level that they can understand all the legal documents that their moving here would lead them to face. Yet all of us who have any involvement in politics know that often our friends, who were born and bred here and speak English as a native tongue will often come to us with queries about some complex form and often we too are flummoxed by the legalese. So when he asks Mark Harper to look into whether we should ask immigrants to pay for translation services, is he not enslaving those who cannot afford it into ignorance.

You see by acknowledging that "many migrants...have contributed to our country" while being immensely proud of this nation's wonderful diversity and openness" you need to walk the walk. Somehow what Nick is saying just isn't it. He appears to be appeasing a certain part of the electorate that do not hold Liberal Values instead of coming up with a truly liberal solution to the problem. While Lib Dems would be remiss not to acknowledge these concerns from some we should the ones coming up with Liberal solutions that reflect the benefits that we in the UK gain from having migrants and being able to emigrate ourselves when we desire to do so.

As he says part of the problem of the legacy of both the Major and then Labour Governments is a lack of management of the issue, and keeping monitoring the numbers. Not knowing who is in the country and has exceeded their right to stay is a concern that needs to be a addressed. As Lib Dems we did believe that one way to deal with that was to pragmatically allow those who have spent over a decade contributing to our society the right to remain. It wasn't some automatic reward,it was for those who spoke English, had a clean record and wanted to stay here. It was an historic promise and not something that those coming after 2010 were going to be able to achieve, it was a plan to help deal with the mess.

But what about the point-based system that would allow immigrants to work where they were needed. There was no mention of those regionally based worked having to pay a bond in case they strayed to another region, but we expected to be able to keep a track on them better with the systems back in place. It was a system that we promised in our manifesto could deal with the regional variations in needs for workers while at the same time allowing those that we needed to fill skill gaps to come into our country to fill those voids. It was liberal, it was fair and it didn't require a financial barrier to entry, if you were employable you could have the right to come and fill one of those gaps.

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