Nick Clegg’s political ambiguity continued furthered on Friday as he called for a bail system to guarantee the departure of certain visitors to the UK from in his words “countries that pose a high risk” to our borders. Under his idea, visitors on tourist and student visas would be required to pay a deposit of £1000 upon arrival to the UK border Agency to act as a deposit and in Mr Clegg’s eyes –ensure they do not illegally remain in the country beyond their legally permitted stay. The laws would obviously not apply to EU migrants and comes simultaneously as Vince Cable argued that the Home Office’s plans to lower net UK migration by 2015 by 100,000. Nick Clegg has also called for a doubling of fines for employers who knowingly use illegal immigrants as labourers purely because it is cheaper. As usual with the Lib Dem leader, it is all a bit confusing, and illiberal.
For one thing, the plans would not likely lower net migration and prevent visa “abuses” as the Lib Dem leader suggested it would. Primarily, often those who do overstay their visa allowance are likely to find that the overall financial benefits of staying in the UK would likely pay off the £1000 fairly rapidly, considering the national average wage is approximately £26,500. It might be hard for certain individuals from countries where the currency is weak against the pound (Iran, Vietnam or Afghanistan) but once inside the state it could be easy to pay it off, thus not an effective deterrent, whether or not you think it is an immoral policy. Imagine being a prospective student at Britain’s one of prestigious universities and learning that on top of paying annually-rising tuition fees, maintaining yourself in Britain’s expensive living conditions you would have to give the government an extra £1000 pounds, and only get it back upon leaving the UK. Students have enough economic trouble, let alone paying a pointless thousand pounds. On top of that, students from certain countries who study here may only remain to work and contribute to our society for only two years before being obligated to return home. According to the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen this has led to a drastic decrease in students from places like India coming to Britain.
The announcement from Mr Clegg has been received less than well by some Liberal Democrats, when we asked one LD Councillor if he thought the party needed new leadership, he responded with ‘now there’s a leading question.’ Not quite the hung, draw, and quartering answer we may have expected; but neither the most supportive of responses.
Furthermore, we at the BB are not too sure if this was a particularly smart move in a political sense. We think this because this decision on immigration further squishes the other parties alongside the Liberal Democrats on practically every single policy. You couldn’t put a cigarette paper between them, as some might say…
Another day, another plan. Is there no-one from the Tory, Labour or Liberal Democrat Parties who will stand up for immigrants? Cowards.
— David Aaronovitch (@DAaronovitch) March 23, 2013
Aside from this policy not providing an effective deterrent to a problem that a liberal would not consider a problem (what’s so wrong with immigrants anyway Nick?), the whole idea in a nutshell seems very unfair. We would not expect to pay a “deposit” when entering India, China or Morocco for example, so on the grounds of equal treatment it seems unreasonable to suggest such treatment. It would be equally unfair to create benefits and positive discrimination in favour of immigrants, and then it would be UK citizens who would suffer maltreatment. However, the policy removes equity for certain peoples, eradicates the liberal value of equality of opportunity and discriminates against people from certain backgrounds, purely on the basis of what the Home Secretary and her senior civil servants think. It is embarrassing for a so-called “liberal” to advocate such things, and further proof of how they have betrayed the party’s founding principles.