Have the Lib Dems started scapegoating immigrants too?

Contentious wording on immigration is to form part of a policy motion to be debated at the Lib Dem party conference in the autumn. It sends a message that I never envisaged would come from the party that I have long been a member of.

While this is not adopted party policy and is, at this stage, only a proposal from a working group I am still stunned that a Liberal party would even suggest that immigrants are to be blamed for economic ills.

The policy working group has come up with the following:

Leading Lib Dem blogger and an editor of Lib Dem Voice, Caron Lindsay, has written this great post and it is really quite heartening that many members do not subscribe to the view people like me, an Asian immigrant, bring discord and disharmony to the country. For isn’t that what the first sentence of the proposal states? If migration is not peaceful and equitable the strong implication is that immigrations have brought strife with them. This is the rhetoric of the Daily Mail, Nigel Farage and such ilk.

It makes me question what it is that has changed within the Lib Dems that such a proposal is deemed satisfactory enough to have passed a threshold to qualify as a conference motion.

It is hard to reconcile this motion with the strong centrist ground that the party has maintained. By all means, address the concerns that people have over immigration but, quite clearly, the proposal attempts to scapegoat rather than exonerate. I do think that it is possible to exonerate immigrants as human beings without collapsing the human angle with the economic arguments.  Scapegoating immigrants is dirty down in the ditch dog whistle politics of racism.

Granted the last sentence of the quote does recognise the racism that exists against immigrants but it almost appears as an after thought. As if someone piped up at the final working group meeting to advocate some sort of toning down posturing without actually retracting the blame game.

The motion reeks of exclusive nationalism, them and us. Despite study after study showing that immigration does bring benefits in huge doses, the default position regardless of which political party is involved seems to be ‘blame immigrants’. I do expect this of the main political parties but NOT the Lib Dems.




  1. August 11, 2018 / 11:03 am

    You’re certainly not alone in your opinion here – the policy paper appears to have been written by somebody who wants to pre-concede the argument to the racists and their supporters.

    Fortunately many Lib Dems have written sensible responses to it, including Andrew Hickey and Caron Lindsay. And groups from across the party are opposing the policy motion at Conference, so with any luck it’ll get voted down or referred back.

    • ambitiousmamas
      August 20, 2018 / 8:35 pm

      Dear Dave,

      Your comment is much appreciated. It is heartening that there is opposition to the motion which should not have been drawn up in the first place.

      thank you very much

  2. Janet King
    August 19, 2018 / 5:19 pm

    This is my personal opinion although I am a founder member of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary and represent our organisation at Detention Forum. Firstly one has to be aware of what some members of the UK public believe to be the truth ie that immigration is a factor in their own unemployment, their children’s inability to find an affordable home. We all know that this is false and the result of illiberal mainly right wing media drip feeding their readers over many years. No Liberal Democrat believes this to be true and we have a good record of supporting migrants,,asylum seekers and refugees. Please fo9llow us on @LD4SOS and visit http://www.ld4sos.org.uk if you remain unconvinced. When preparing a policy any party does well to know the enemy and the policy paper is merely acknowledging the existence of an anti-immigration attitude which undoubtedly exists in parts of this country and which is unfortunately an influence on successive Governments’ policies on migration. If you read further you will see that the policy motion seeks to overturn this anti-migration stance and I am of the opinion that policy paper 131 on which the motion is based, is a very good description of liberal values. Indeed it is radical in its proposals to demand the right to work for asylum seekers in any occupation for which they are suitable if their application for asylum has not been determined after 3 months. This will save a descent into destitution and dependency and also makes economic sense for both migrant and Government. Free ESOL classes as of right, no detention beyond 72 hours, alternatives to detention thus allowing the closure of 6 IRCs are both huge steps forward as you would realise if you had played any part in campaigning for a better, more humane asylum system in the UK. Some of the policy motion could have been better worded and LD4SOS had sent a fairly long list of amendments to Federal Policy Cttee , which we hope will be accepted preferably by the proposers or after debate at Conference. Rest assured that the Liberal democrat party has not lost its ways and that paper 131, the policy passed at this September’s Conference and our next GE manifesto will not disappoint all those who, like us, are working for an immigration and asylum system which is humane, fair and works for the migrant much more than is the case at present. Please send your concerns about the current system to the Home Secretary and support us as we try to convince him that the flaws in the system can and must be overcome.

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