The unpleasant rhetoric of Theresa May’s speech this morning has given every liberal what we Scots call “the dry boak” Her remarks were not measured, not reasonable and entirely designed to win over that small proportion of the population who are members of the Conservative Party.
Anyone who knows anything about the immigration system will know how difficult it is to actually get into this country. Married couples often have to endure years of separation before (and it’s not inevitable that they will be) they can live together in this country. The strain put on families is intolerable. People who have endured unimaginable hardships and abuse are often turned away when they come here seeking sanctuary.
Tim Farron has spent the day standing up to May’s inaccurate, misleading and shocking speech. He’s written an article for Politics.co.uk in which he says there is someone damaging Britain – and it is not immigrants:
“The Home Secretary has apparently forgotten that foreign students enrich our universities, contribute huge sums to local economies and help fund our universities through their fees.
Their positive contribution to our economy is actually around £13bn every year.
Instead of encouraging this contribution, May’s rhetoric and actions are driving wealthy foreign students to look elsewhere to study depriving us of their money and knowledge.
Likewise, the NHS would collapse without immigration Twenty-four per cent of doctors in hospitals are foreign-born and the BMA argues that without immigrants many NHS services would struggle to provide effective care.
At a time when NHS junior doctors are looking at options abroad thanks to the Health Secretary’s policy proposals we cannot afford to drive away those who come here to serve our society.
Put simply without immigration our debts would be bigger, our NHS would have far fewer staff and we would have an even greater deficit.
But then why let facts get in the way, when you can give an anti-immigration speech in an attempt to win back voters lost to UKIP and position yourself as the next Tory leader?
By contrast the Liberal Democrats unashamedly welcome the contribution immigrants make to Britain’s communities, society and the economy.
We are outward looking and believe we are stronger when we work with our international partners and work together – but we are also economically literate.”
He makes some very good points about who actually is causing the problems for lower paid workers:
“So before Theresa May starts lambasting whole communities with demonstrably false, disingenuous, sound-bite driven claims about immigrants she should look at what is actually threatening lower paid workers. Because it’s not immigrants.
It’s actually her government’s choice to cut working tax credits for the lowest paid, which the IFS estimates will cost 3 million families over £1,000 per year alone
It’s actually her government’s decision to cut Employment Support Allowance- slashing a third of the support given to people with conditions like depression or bipolar disorder.
And it’s actually her government’s decision to force housing authorities to sell off their housing stock, failing to kick start the building of affordable housing and having no plan at all to address Britain’s housing crisis.
Ultimately, if she really wants to understand who is creating division and insecurity in communities up and down the country, she only needs to take a look around the Cabinet table.”
And what of the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition? At the time of writing, all he’s tweeted about today is the front cover of Rail magazine. You might have thought Jeremy Corbyn was different, but you have to remember that Labour were selling mugs during the election that said “Control immigration.” Someone needs to speak up for the evidence based benefits of immigration and it’s good that Tim is stepping up to the plate.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron’s Musings