Sunday, 14 December 2008

Putting the World to Rights

Except from a speech by LibDem leader Nick Clegg on the 60 anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

All of us have had our rights have come under attack…
But no one has suffered more so than foreigners in this country.

Britain is fast developing a two-tier rights regime.
That’s why foreign nationals are the first of us to be forced to carry ID cards.
It’s why asylum seekers are left hanging around for years by the incompetence of the Home Office…

Driven into the black economy when they could work and pay taxes to support themselves… Rather than depend on taxpayers for meagre handouts.
And it’s why countless economic migrants are exploited by unscrupulous employers.

When you begin to list these abuses the picture it creates is truly horrendous.
When you think of the Zimbabweans who are being imprisoned in immigration detention centres even though they can’t be deported.
Or the women who come to the UK legally and find themselves in violent marriages but who aren’t eligible for places in refuges.
Again an issue that Amnesty have been campaigning heavily on.

And when you recognise the astonishing brutality and cruelty that has become a part of our asylum system.
And the attempts by our Government to deport terror suspects to countries where they face torture.

Mehdi Kazemi is an Iranian the Government tried to deport earlier this year…
Despite the fact that he is homosexual and his partner had already been killed for being gay.
The Home Office said he would be alright if he was ‘discreet’.
Their exact words

If our own Government is capable of degrading so many foreigners in Britain, is it any wonder that communities have become more fragmented, tensions exacerbated?

We have already seen the Immigration Minister swerving to the right in preparation for the next election…
Peddling fear and scapegoating asylum seekers for Britain’s ills.
What does this Government think is going to happen to the already delicate ethnic tensions as we spiral further into economic downturn?
When more jobs go, and frustrations are at a high?
Why are they stoking this fire?

What makes it even worse is that this is an area where the Conservatives simply won’t be outflanked.
My concern is that this marks the start of a kind of downward bidding…
A “we’ll let in fewer than you will” head to head.
We can’t let this happen.

We need a responsible, mature debate on immigration.
Where we recognise it is right to be tough on illegal immigration…
But equally the huge contribution that legal immigrants make.

We need to bridge the gap between the treatment of foreigners and the treatment of everyone else.
I am a liberal because I believe deeply in the universality of basic human rights.
Wherever their application is discriminate…
Contingent on arbitrary factors like creed or colour…
It must stop.


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