I do not think that word means what you think it means…

September 16, 2008

Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, is speaking at a panel on Monday 22 September at Committee Room 3, Town Hall, Albert Square in Manchester.

And the name of the panel:    “How should progressives respond to Europe’s immigration anxieties?”

This is the same man who recently said in New Statesman that “medical care at a removal centre is as good as it is on the NHS”.  That’s right, apparently the Children’s Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley-Green is making it up.  I hate it when Children’s Commissioners do things like that!!

Byrne takes the view, shared by Keith Vaz, that really, any suffering that children in detention centres endure is the fault of their parents, for daring to exercise their right to seek asylum (article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).    According to Byrne “The sad fact is that children end up within our detention estate because their parents refuse to go home – even when an independent judge reviewing the case at first hand, or on appeal, says they have no right to stay.” 

Yes, some people have the oddest notion of parental duties – they remain convinced that returning to a country where they will face persecution would be bad for their children!

Byrne has claimed that he always thinks of his three children before signing an order permitting asylum-seeker children to be detained for more than 28 days.  Presumably, though, Byrne thinks of his three children as being human, where he clearly does not accord that status to asylum seekers; if he did, how could he possibly justify this treatment?

All of which is to say:  In what UNIVERSE is Liam Byrne a progressive??

All of you in Manchester that day – why don’t we go to the meeting at ask exactly what definition of progressive Liam Byrne is using?

More about the meeting here (as you can see, he is sharing a panel with other “progressives”, including Patricia Hewitt).  Please RSVP to Jade Groves, events assistant at jgroves@policy-network.net.

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