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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A new government, a new Home Secretary

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 07:  Shadow Secr...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Source: NCADC

Theresa May, Tory MP for Maidenhead, has been appointed as the new Home Secretary.

It should come as no surprise that May is assessed on the Public Whip website by her voting record as someone who:
"believes that the asylum system should be stricter by tightening the criteria for acceptance, setting tougher rules for allowable activities and making it easier for government agencies to remove asylum seekers"
For example, she voted in favour of the infamous Section 55 of the 2002 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act, which led to thousands of refugees being made homeless and destitute because they did not apply for asylum immediately on arrival in the UK. But then again, only 8 Labour and 1 Tory voted against this law (20% of each party's MPs didn't turn up to vote). Conversely, every single Lib Dem MP turned up on the day and voted against this section of the Act.

It will be interesting to see how enthusiastic this new Home Secretary is about the commitment to "end the detention of children for immigration purposes", announced today as part of the deal with the Tories' new best friends the Liberal Democrats.

LGBT Asylum News note: she also launched the Tory equalities manifesto which promised to "change the rules" for LGBT asylum seekers and said:
At the moment gay asylum seekers are often returned to countries with homophobic regimes and told to keep their sexuality a secret.
Although the current Supreme Court case may overturn this policy anyway (though we won't see a decision for some months). The LiberalDemocrats have, of course, had a supportive policy for some time.

So, goodbye to all this...?

It's unlikely that this Tory Home Secretary will be any better or any worse than her Labour predecessors:

- Jack Straw, who introduced forced dispersal, among other nastiness;

- David Blunkett, who took away the right to work, and made thousands destitute;

- Charles Clarke, who attempted to take children into "care" if their parents didn't hurry up and get back to where they came from;

- John Reid, who decided the system wasn't nearly nasty enough for purpose, what with all this human rights and access to solicitors nonsense;

- Jacqui Smith, who insisted that it was safe to deport gay asylum seekers to Iran as long as they were "discreet";

- Alan Johnson, who, as an MP, wrote an impassioned "life and death" plea in support of a family, then, as Home Secretary signed the removal order.

Johnson's final rant as Home Sec was to dismiss the Lib Dem proposal to allow asylum seekers to work as "utter, utter madness".
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