I previously wrote almost in despair about the immigration policy paper being debated at conference in September. You can read the blog post here. Lib Dem Voice has published articles too on the same topic.

I am always delighted when people leave comments and the following one was left by Janet King. I have published it below without edits because it throws some more light on the paper and the context for it. While I still worry about the inclusion of wording which suggests that immigrants are to be blamed for economic failures, Janet King’s long comment deserves consideration.

Janet King, August 19, 2018

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 follow 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 Committee, 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.

The following comment was left on my blog post by Dave Page.

Thank you Dave and Janet.


One would think that one would have left the horrors of studying, textbooks, revisions, burning the candle at both ends and exams once one had found a steady and stable career. That is what I thought anyway. till I had a daughter.

About 8 years my daughter, Maelo, woke me up at about 1am one night and asked me explain Schumpeter’s theory to her again. I had introduced her to it during dinner and she had been fascinated by it. When she woke me up and asked me to go through it again I knew that if I didn’t undertake some form of higher level of learning I would become unstuck as her questions grew harder. I resolved then to do a postgraduate qualification. Austerity was introduced soon after and my financial circumstances became severely constrained. I had to wait two more years before I could afford further education.

Eventually I signed up to the University of London and LSE programme to study International Relations. I chose this field given our interest in politics and it was a wide ranging Postgraduate course that covered topics such as political theory, the economy and national security.

It wasn’t easy. During my period of study I had to defer my exams because my husband had a stroke and, in the following years, was diagnosed with cancer.  When I picked up my studies after two years I was doing it under harder circumstances. Working, running a home and studying is a rather tedious and difficult way to live. By this time Maelo was a full-blown teenager. Need I say more!

My final paper was on Nationalism. It has to be the hardest subject that I have ever come across and I do ready widely. Nationalism pervades almost every aspect of people’s lives. The social and political boundaries of the subject were limitless and the analytical lens applied was as wide as an Eagle’s eyes. Trying to distil the concepts down was hard enough given the plethora of theorists who have advanced their own views on it.

Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has been an ardent supporter of adult education and he is right. So much had changed since I last attended university decades ago. I had to grapple with the use of the internet for my study and learn to search for obscure articles. Also, it gave me an insight into the modern challenges that young people like Maelo face at university. Formal study is bloody difficult at any age but doing it in later years is much harder. However, it did stretch my brain.

My result came through today. The hardship has been worth it. A very special thanks to my personal tutor and mentor, Dr Mark Boden, who slogged the years getting me through it all.


I spent most of my flight to New York reading ‘The Despot’s Apprentice’ by Brian Klaas. If a Liberal was hosting a dinner party this close to the US mid-term elections, this is a book that would be guaranteed to serve up a delicious topic of conversation. Brian Klaas has forensically analysed Trump’s actions and provides evidence to back it up too. It is a book well worth reading but for the purposes of this blog post, it is the concluding chapter titled ‘How to save democracy’ which is pertinent.

Within the ravages of despair it is the human condition to look for ways to fight back and reclaim what one thinks is lost or is being lost. While I don’t live in America it is quite evident that politics in the current Liberal order of Western countries is tilting towards ill-Liberalism with Donald Trump at the helm as a reckless captain of a careering speedboat. Britain often follows suit where America leads.

Delve into recent history and recall how Margaret Thatcher had an almost simpering like relationship with Ronald Reagan. After that we had Tony Blair who was quite happy to follow George Bush into war territory over Iraq. Latterly, we have had Theresa May literally cosy up to Trump (handholding and politically by rolling out the red carpet).

This is my strong point of interest and a reason why I took the opportunity to visit New York and experience the politics here. My corresponding interest is in the fight back. What do we Liberals do?

Brian Klaas offers a solution by separating Trump from American nationalism. He writes: “Loyalty to America does not mean loyalty to Trump. He is acting like a despot’s apprentice, borrowing tactics from authoritarian leaders I have seen elsewhere. It could happen here. Trump has put our democracy at risk, and in this moment of democracy in peril, he reminds us that we must sometimes fulfill the most important and, often, the most difficult duties of true patriots: to dissent and oppose”.

Michael Moore, the famous left leaning documentary film maker,  seems to have taken up the call to oppose via a documentary to be released on 21 September titled ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’. The title is a reminder of the date and month in 2016 when Trump won the Presidential election. In an interview given to the Huffpost Moore says that, “Donald Trump is an evil genius. He has no intention of leaving the White House…Once we come together in beautiful harmony, the Trump crime family will be prosecuted…The revolution is happening in the most unlikely of places. The resistance-the true resistance-is not coming from the Democratic Party or fro the liberal establishment…there is a real insurgency taking place…I don’t know if it will succed or not it might be too late…Hope is passive…We don’t need hope, we need action”.

There you have it. Keep protesting. Keep taking action. Keep talking to people. Keep trying to change minds.




I was last in New York 19 years ago. The opportunity to visit again arose and I grabbed it. The thought of blogging from New York was too good to resist. Another point of my interest stems from the primacy being placed by British politicians on a trade deal with the USA at the expense of strategic relations with the EU. If we are giving up a strategic long established relationship with the EU I was keen to see what it is we are letting ourselves in for.

From a personal point of view, I remembered New York as a buzzy place. The city that never sleeps. A real estate place but with soul. I was keen to experience it again. It was like no other. The Democrats were in power then under Bill Clinton. Fast forward almost two decades later and something has changed.

If I have to distill my perception down to one concept it is this: The American Dream seems to have scarpered and is nowhere to be seen.

The dream seemed to be the anchor of hope for all those people who either already lived here or who aspired to live here. The UK has never had an equivalent self-defining tenet. Yet, you didn’t have to experience the American Dream personally to understand and sense it.

America is now seeing a second-quarter rise of 4.1% in GDP. As is often the case, leaders spout statistics and an upward trajectory is taken as a sign of stout leadership. Donald Trump, the American President, is taking great delight and personal responsibility for this bounce.  What these types of figures don’t show though is the reality on the ground of how people are coping.

The lived experiences of people are the shadow stories that lurk underneath the boasting and gloating of a supposed good news story. People’s battles with inequality through class and race struggles and coping with ensuing poverty are never factored into headlining economic stories. Yet, much like in the UK, their inability to break through the structural obstacles is an inconvenient truth. Listen to the Trump fawning press and you start to think that you are living in a parallel universe.

The level of homelessness is shocking. There are large numbers of men and women. Among the men, it is common place to find some holding up torn pieces of cardboard with handwritten messages telling you that they are former veterans.  Wasn’t Donald Trump going to help the veterans?  A disproportionate number of homeless people are Black. Weren’t these streets meant to have been paved with gold for everyone? Or is that Gold now reserved for Trump Tower?


A common nightly sight is of pensioners, often bent from old age, going through recycling bags left outside hotels and restaurants. They collect plastic bottles which they sell on to the waste management industry for 5 cents a bottle. A rather large bag of bottles nets these pensioners $5.

Who really is benefitting from Trump’s promise to ‘Make America Great Again’? Trump’s $5.1 trillion tax cut isn’t quite turning out to be the pot of gold at the end of the American rainbow. According to the New York Times, the ‘initial jolt of the …cuts, mostly for corporations and the wealthy is wearing off’ with corporations buying back most of their shares and spending even less, as a result, on new production methods or wages.  Wealth isn’t being shared with workers. A rise in inflation of 2.9% is absorbing wage increases where these exist. You factor in the trade war which Trump is now fighting against the world and the resulting picture isn’t looking so good.

In parts of New York I struggle to believe that I am not in Athens. Perhaps in the future, post Brexit, I will be pinching myself back in London to remind myself that I am not in New York.



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.