Deliberate cruelty and injustice

by Chris Bertram on February 11, 2020

The UK Home Office has just proceeded with a deportation flight to Jamaica. On the flight are “foreign national offenders” convicted of serious crimes. On the flight are also people who have been in the UK from an early age (2 or 3), and people who were convicted of one-time drug-dealing offences, for example. The courts have stopped the removal of a few people who had been denied access to legal support. Naturally, the Home Office and Conservative politicians foreground the “foreign” aspect and the presence of “serious criminals” to perform being tough to the public and their base whilst refusing to discuss the “individual cases” that don’t fit with their propaganda. Labour politicians and others have demanded to know why the flight went ahead when we are still awaiting the results of an inquiry into the Windrush scandal (which included unjust deportations) and in defiance of recommendations that people who came to the UK as small children should not be deported to places where they know no-one. Defending the government’s conduct in the House of Commons, the new immigration minister, Kevin Foster made a comparison between black immigrants (such as midwives) who make a contribution and criminals, thereby suggesting a standard of deservingness that communities of immigrant origin have to meet. And with some justice, the Tories can say that this deportation regime has its basis in laws passed by New Labour in 2007, a point highlighted in Maya Goodfellow’s excellent book, Hostile Environment.

The case raises many issues, but I’d like to foreground three. The first is the willingness of the government to stigmatize as “foreign criminals” people who are anything but foreign, who have been socialized as British, who have nothing and nobody in the country of the nominal nationality. This is because British nationality law puts registration as British beyond the financial grasp of many low-income families or imposes a “bad character” test on children as young as 10 to prevent them from registering. The second is that this shows that the Windrush “moment” is over. Despite having cried some crocodile tears over a scandal that saw some people deported and others lose their homes, jobs and be denied medical care, the government has done nothing to prevent such things from happening in the future and most of the victims have not even been compensated. In fact, the British government remains determined to make it as hard as possible for people at the sharp end of its immigration and nationality regimes to assert and defend their rights, leaving them at the mercy of government officials. The third is that this may be electorally popular, which raises questions for the left: how do we fight injustice in a democracy when deliberate cruelty and injustice come with political benefits?

{ 74 comments }

1

Matt 02.11.20 at 11:51 am

For quite a while in Australia, the idea of a person being “absorbed into the Australian community” played an important role in migration law. (In part this was because Australian citizenship law was unusually vague for a long time, with the relationship between Australian, British, and Commonwealth citizenship not being fully clear for some time, but the idea of an “absorbed person” persisted beyond the formalizing of the citizenship laws.) Until the late 80s, at least, people who were “absorbed” were treated very much like citizens for migration law purposes. Starting in the later 80s, though, and increasing into the early 2000s, the law came to see any one who was not a citizen as being an alien, and, in Australia, being essentially at the whims of parliament. This is too bad, because, as vague as it was, the idea of an “absorbed” person, who, even if not a citizen, should be given significantly more protection from removal is a plausible and attractive one. And, it’s one that can plausibly be given contours that are jurisdiciable and able to be applied by courts, administrative bodies, etc.

2

Barry 02.11.20 at 1:50 pm

And this is just the start. There’s an old saying that the UK has an ‘elected dictatorship’, where there is little to restrain the government between elections.[1]

The Brexit Party (AKA Tories) is – well, not actually ‘fascist’ yet, but clearly ‘fascist curious’. They got an overwhelming majority with a minority of the votes, and are taking steps to consolidate power (reducing the power of the judiciary and House of Lords).
It looks like they are going to gerrymander the districts, which might mean that 35% of the vote would keep them in power.

The press is largely pro-fascist. Limitations due to EU membership are gone, and the problems caused by Brexit can be used to promote fascism.

It’s going to really, really s*ck for most of the people in the UK.

[1] There is the fabled ‘unwritten British Constitution’, the thing which recently proven to be worth the paper it is (not) written on.

3

Gareth Wilson 02.11.20 at 6:54 pm

“The third is that this may be electorally popular, which raises questions for the left: how do we fight injustice in a democracy when deliberate cruelty and injustice come with political benefits?”

The first step is to look at the list of people on the plane, and tell us which of them you do want deported.

4

Cian 02.11.20 at 8:29 pm

Yeah what Barry said. The UK press is essentially pro-fascist, and has been for most of my lifetime. I’m still amazed that people seriously propose that the Russians had anything to do with Brexit, and ignore the 40 year campaign of media propaganda and bullshit against the EU. The media created much of the racist landscape that we inhabit. The media certainly helped the Tories win the last election.

Everyone who works at the Times, the Telegraph, the Mail,etc should be treated as the racist and fascist enablers that they are. I’m fed up with seeing crocodile tears from journalists who work for these rags. Or their shock that the Tories they helped win are ‘racist’, or ‘undemocratic’, or that Boris Johnson is a racist chancer who will say anything to get elected.

And that should extend to the BBC as well – whose role tends to be laundering racist/sexist/fascist drivel from the newspapers and presenting it to a mass audience. Because it’s part of the discourse. The media are the enemy. Much of it needs to be destroyed.

The last election destroyed any tolerance I had for any of it. Most of the UK media just needs to die.

5

J-D 02.11.20 at 11:37 pm

For quite a while in Australia, the idea of a person being “absorbed into the Australian community” played an important role in migration law. (In part this was because Australian citizenship law was unusually vague for a long time, with the relationship between Australian, British, and Commonwealth citizenship not being fully clear for some time, but the idea of an “absorbed person” persisted beyond the formalizing of the citizenship laws.)

Citation, please.

And, it’s one that can plausibly be given contours that are jurisdiciable and able to be applied by courts, administrative bodies, etc.

Jurisdiciable, justiciable? Justiciable, jurisdiciable?

There’s an old saying that the UK has an ‘elected dictatorship’, where there is little to restrain the government between elections.

I don’t know of any country where there’s much more to restrain a government between elections than there is much more to restrain the government between elections than there is in the UK (a little more, maybe, but not much more).

They … are taking steps to consolidate power (reducing the power of the judiciary and House of Lords).
It looks like they are going to gerrymander the districts, which might mean that 35% of the vote would keep them in power.

Citation, please.

There is the fabled ‘unwritten British Constitution’, the thing which recently proven to be worth the paper it is (not) written on.

Citation, please.

The media are the enemy. Much of it needs to be destroyed.

Childbirth needs to be less dangerous, nicotine needs to be less addictive, Donald Trump needs to be less dishonest, and I’ve been told they need to do something about the Heathrow baggage retrieval system.

In an episode of Yes, Prime Minister, Humphrey Appleby told Jim Hacker that the Defence Department knew what would need to be done to defend Britain against Soviet attack. Jim Hacker was surprised and asked whether it would be possible to defend against such an attack. Humphrey Appleby explained that of course it wouldn’t be, but at least Defence didn’t have to think about it any more.

6

Peter T 02.12.20 at 12:20 am

The Home Office, ICE in the US, Home Affairs in Australia are all on the same plane as far as performative cruelty goes. Is this an anglosphere thing, or go Germany or France dump long-standing residents abroad too?

In Australia, this has seen high-level pushback from NZ (a major destination). How does the UK handle the reverse – where some non -English speaking UK-born person is rudely decanted at Heathrow? Or do they insist that the traffic is all one way?

7

Phil Hunt 02.12.20 at 12:34 am

The third is that this may be electorally popular, which raises questions for the left: how do we fight injustice in a democracy when deliberate cruelty and injustice come with political benefits?

By choosing one’s battles, of course.

If Labour (or anyone else) wants to win in a FPTP system, they need to ruthlessly prune from their platform anything that’s a vote loser. (Under PR it’s different because one its trying to do something different: to get 10-20% of the voters to like you a lot, as opposed to FPTP where you need to get 40% of the voters to like you a bit, or at least dislike you less than the other lot).

8

Matt 02.12.20 at 12:53 am

“Citation please”
Crock and Berg, _Immigration Refugees, and Forced Migration: Law Policy and Practice in Australia_, chapter 3, and chapter 17. Really, though, I teach Australian migration law, and am not just making this up. You’re “citation please” shtick gets a bit old after a while, in the age of google. It’s not others jobs to do your homework.

Also, yes, I meant to write “justiciable” – a rule that can be plausibly applied by a court or administrative body. In discussions on immigration policy, people often come up with policies that are not very plausibly justiciable, and this is a problem. But, this approach was used in the past, and can be made sufficiently rule-like to be applied now, and would help avoid many of the problems Chris mentions. But thanks for the helpful contribution here!

9

John Quiggin 02.12.20 at 1:57 am

Also worth noting is the recent practice in both the UK and Australia of stripping citizenship from natives on the basis that the person concerned is a dual national through their parents, even though
(a) they have never been to the country in question; and
(b) that country denies that the people in question are citizens
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamima_Begum
So far, this has only been used to deny re-entry to people accused of terror activity, but there is no obvious limit. And as the fiasco over eligibility to sit in the Australian Parliament has shown, the number of people potentially affected is huge, up to half the population by some estimates.

10

Cian 02.12.20 at 3:17 am

Childbirth needs to be less dangerous, nicotine needs to be less addictive, Donald Trump needs to be less dishonest, and I’ve been told they need to do something about the Heathrow baggage retrieval system.

JD – it would be fairly easy to clamp down on the UK media. Change ownership laws so that you can only own a single newspaper, have to be paying taxes and resident in the UK. Then strengthen the public’s ability to get compensation from the tabloids. I know of two people who had their lives destroyed by the Daily Mail. Many more have had their lives destroyed by the Sun, and in recent years the Times.

I have just watched an election where most of the UK Press operated as the unofficial propaganda wing of the Tory party. It’s always been bad in my lifetime, but in recent years it has become ridiculous. The Times regularly pumps out racist trash, the Daily Mail is still the fascist supporting rag it was in the 1930s and the Sun published a neofascist conspiracy theory during the election. It’s no coincidence that the people in the UK who are mostly like to read newspapers are also the most likely to hold reactionary and racist views.

Most countries do not have a media like the UK. God knows the media in the US is crappy, but compared to the UK it actually seems okay. People need to call out the media for the role it plays, and shame journalists for their part in it. Working for the Times, the Telegraph, or the Mail should be as seen as like working for Der Stürmer.

11

Cian 02.12.20 at 3:17 am

In the above comment the first paragraph is from JD that I rather stupidly pasted in by mistake…

12

J-D 02.12.20 at 7:14 am

Matt

Crock and Berg, _Immigration Refugees, and Forced Migration: Law Policy and Practice in Australia_, chapter 3, and chapter 17.

Thank you. I can’t look at it right now because it’s out on loan. I don’t suppose by any chance that you’re the borrower?

Really, though, I teach Australian migration law

Is that supposed to be something I was already aware of? I don’t know how I could have been. Now that I do know, I regard what you’re telling me differently, but I didn’t know it when I composed my earlier comment.

Now that I know that, it also seems to me that you’d probably be able to cite a few relevant leading cases, which I could easily look up online if only I knew what they were.

and am not just making this up.

The possibility that you might be making it up never occurred to me.

I’ve had plenty of experience of people telling me things which they weren’t making up, things which they’d been told by other people, sometimes repeatedly, and then finding out that the information was inaccurate. I have myself repeated to other people things which I’ve been told by people who I assumed knew what they were talking about and then discovered, on checking, that the information was inaccurate. I’ve more than once had the experience of discovering that people were in possession of the same information that I was but were misinterpreting it.

You’re “citation please” shtick gets a bit old after a while

Whether you respond is entirely up to you. I am grateful that you chose to, but it does seem a little odd that you should first supply an answer and then gripe about having been asked.

in the age of google. It’s not others jobs to do your homework.

But which search terms am I supposed to use? I tried ‘Australia citizenship law’ and ‘Australia citizenship law history’, but those searches did not produce results which let me check your information (although interesting in other ways). They didn’t, for example, produce a citation of Crock and Berg, which you were able to do easily.

Also, yes, I meant to write “justiciable” – a rule that can be plausibly applied by a court or administrative body.

I did think you might have meant that (which is why I suggested it). Before I knew that you taught law, I had no reason to think it was a word you would have known.

13

Chris Bertram 02.12.20 at 7:54 am

@John Quiggin: in fact the UK has used citizenship deprivation against “serious criminals” as well as against those involved with terrorism. This was uses against people of Pakistani origin involved with “grooming gangs” in the north of England. Obviously, given the nature of their crimes, they got little support, but having established the precedent we can expect the government to extend the use of the practice to other cases of ordinary criminality involving non-white people.

14

Dipper 02.12.20 at 9:21 am

The question of deportation of foreign nationals has been covered fairly recently by a document in the House of Commons Library “Deportation of Foreign National Offenders”. (link not available but it is discussed here).

The document states “The UK Borders Act 2007 made provision for the automatic deportation of foreign criminals. The Home Secretary must make a deportation order in respect of a foreign criminal unless certain exceptions apply”. And section 6 tells us that in 2018/19 5,322 foreign criminals were deported of whom 3,633 were EU nationals and 1,689 were non EU citizens.

It is easy to criticise from the comfort of your armchair, but if you, as a Home Secretary, intervene to prevent foreign nationals from being deported when the normal legal process would have resulted in them being deported, and one of them then commits a serious crime (which given rates of recidivism is quite likely), then that’s your career finished.

The problematic issue here, as with Windrush deportations, is that a significant number of people who came over from the Caribbean in the second half of last century do not have their citizenship fully in order. At that time, when the UK had close links to Commonwealth countries and had a stable population of 56 million, that did not matter much. Now, when the UK through EU membership gave right of residence to 500 million people, and our population is 67 million and climbing, citizenship matters a lot.

If I were Home Secretary, I would not intervene. I would be quite happy for the courts to intervene, and I would be quite happy for Parliament to ask me to properly sort out citizenship of long standing UK residents of Caribbean origin. But to initiate action to prevent an automatic process from occurring with the almost certain consequence of one of those allowed to remain committing a serious criminal offence would be, in the words of Sir Humphrey, a brave thing to do.

15

Matt 02.12.20 at 9:21 am

JD – I don’t want to distract more from Chris’s thread, which is important, and where I hope more people will provide information. But, you’ll note that people rarely give citations in blog comments. My academic work – much of which you can find by clicking on my name – is full of them, but when I’m commenting, it’s often between bits of work and quickly. It’s not meant to be formal. I’m happy to give more information to people who interact in helpful ways – saying things like, “That’s interesting – can you tell me more about it?” or “Where can I find out more about this?” rather than a form that looks, in many of your usages of it, as a skeptical dismissal or a dominance play.

On the topic, there is some possible good news from Australia in the last few days, with the High Court purporting to limit some deportations. The news article is very unclear to me – there is clearly a mixture of the law about citizenship, laws dealing w/ the status of aboriginal people in Australia, and the ability of the government to cancel visas of even very long-term residents on “character” grounds, making them removeable. I hope that when I have a chance to read the actual decision it will make more sense than the news article does! Sadly, a common reaction of various Australian governments to decisions like this has been to quickly change the laws in question. For the fairly unclear account, see here: https://www.9news.com.au/national/high-court-to-rule-on-aboriginal-aliens/267efd38-2e9f-4cbd-a6a0-a3ff90d5e0a3

16

Collin Street 02.12.20 at 9:31 am

J-D: “citation please” is calling someone a liar-or-idiot. That’s what you did, and if you were right in doing so you would have been right to do so.

But you weren’t, and that means you were rude and offensive. Offense can happen in error: if in light of your new knowledge you walk your statements back then in learning from your mistakes you get reborn. If you don’t…. to leave an offense deliberately uncorrected is to deliberately offend, no?

There’s a word for people who say false and hurtful things in knowledge of their falsity. This word describes you as you are: what are you goinv to do about it?

17

Chris Bertram 02.12.20 at 12:03 pm

@Dipper There are a number of problematic things about your comment, but let me focus on two of them:

1. You are correct to say that the present case results from the 2007 Act, and very shameful that is for Labour too, but the Act, as passed allowed human rights grounds to intervene. Theresa May as Home Secretary, after making various wild claims about cats, weakened the protections significantly so that it was almost impossible for the exceptions to have application.

2. Since (see 1) the Home Secretary acted to weaken those protection, your point aboout the Home Secretary being bound by the automaticity of the Act is one that it is hard to make in good faith.

In the aftermath of Windrush these deportation flights to the Caribbean were stopped, the choice to restart them was a deliberate one by the Home Office and flies in the face of the recommendation to it by Stephen Shaw, the former Prisons and Probations Ombudman with respect to those who entered the UK as children

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/728376/Shaw_report_2018_Final_web_accessible.pdf

18

Barry 02.12.20 at 12:46 pm

JD:
1) GFY.
2) It’s rich to see somebody asking me for a citation for somebody else’s statement.

19

SRH 02.12.20 at 4:33 pm

Let’s take the hatred of these people from the media at face value. Some of these deportees are, apparently, dangerous to the public. What’s the moral justification for sending them to countries where the rule of law and human rights are far weaker, such as Jamaica? If they are dangerous – for example, if they’ve committed violence against children – is it fine for us to wash our hands like Pontius Pilate and let them loose where they are less likely to be either controlled or helped to stop offending? This has always seemed to be hugely racist, in that it doesn’t matter who’s victimised in the destination countries. We’ve just got rid of another dangerous foreigner, so that’s all right.

20

Alex 02.12.20 at 4:47 pm

I don’t know of any country where there’s much more to restrain a government between elections than there is much more to restrain the government between elections than there is in the UK (a little more, maybe, but not much more).

The UK doesn’t have an entrenched constitution which can be enforced against Parliament against its will, unlike most countries, so this seems manifestly false.

Consider, for example, that the UK has been in contravention of the rights of prisoners to vote for 15 years now, and has basically just ignored the rulings and carried on like they didn’t happen.

21

Daragh McDowell 02.12.20 at 5:45 pm

I’d just like to endorse wholeheartedly the sentiments behind the OP, and as someone who has generally been extremely critical of Corbyn note that his performance at PMQs on this issue today was excellent – both a political and moral tour de force. While I’m shocked to find myself saying this I think the left should look to that example for how to fight these injustices. Also – I’d like to thank Chris for consistently raising these issues and doing the hard yards on research to make the case as effectively as anyone I’ve read on the topic. Chapeau.

22

stephen 02.12.20 at 7:53 pm

CB@13: the precedent for deportation (and indeed, deprivation of citizenxhip) of serious criminals goes back far further than its use against what you euphemistically call “people of Pakistani origin involved in grooming gangs in the north of England”. Muslim men, mostly Pakistani in origin, have indeed been deported for the extended sexual abuse of rather a large number of under-age girls, in the north, and more recently convicted if not yet deported from the south of England. I trust you find that acceptable.

But consider the case (I’m not sure that it set a precedent, there may well be earlier cases) of Klaus Fuchs, a naturalised refugee from Nazi Germany and a very talented physicist, who made a significant contribution to the development of nuclear weapons, but passed on all he knew to Stalin’s USSR: convicted in the UK of espionage (under the Attlee government which I would hesitate to call fascist) he was imprisoned, stripped of his British citizenship and eventually deported to East Germany.

I’m not sure where one should place the borders of “serious crime”. Your opinion?

23

Stephen 02.12.20 at 8:20 pm

Barry@2
“The Brexit Party (AKA Tories) is – well, not actually ‘fascist’ yet, but clearly ‘fascist curious’… It looks like they are going to gerrymander the districts, which might mean that 35% of the vote would keep them in power.”

For which J-D asked, without yet been given, a citation. Not surprisingly.

Here I may be able to help you. There is not, and has not been, any attempt by the Tories to gerrymander the UK constituency boundaries: using the standard definition of gerrymandering; ‘establishing an unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries”.

It is some time since constituency boundaries have been adjusted, always by an impartial commission, in the UK. The aim has always been that constituencies, with a few exceptions for detached islands, should have approximately the same numbers of voters. On democratic grounds, it is hard to object to that. Population shifts have resulted in some current constituencies having well below average, and others having well above average numbers of voters. The proposed new boundaries would correct that.

However, as it stands the constituencies with fewer numbers of voters are mostly urban and till recently Labour-voting; those with larger numbers are mostly suburban or rural and Conservative-voting. Therefore, an adjustment of boundaries on sound democratic principles would remove an unfair advantage from Labour, and put them on an even footing with the Conservatives.

It is easy to see how those who bitterly oppose the Conservatives would oppose this, and to hell with democratic principles.

Incidentally, in the 2005 general election the presumably non-fascist government of Tony Blair was returned to office with 35.2% of the popular vote.

24

LFC 02.13.20 at 1:55 am

Like Daragh McDowell @21, I appreciate Chris Bertram’s consistent and informed focus on these issues (and also Matt’s contributions).

I don’t have anything to add about immigration policy, but I’d like to make a comment about “unwritten” constitutions, a subject that’s come up a couple of times in this thread.

Whether a constitution is written or unwritten (or perhaps put more accurately, codified or uncodified in a single document) is, in my view, generally less important than a political system’s underlying norms, practices, and conventions, which are mostly by definition unwritten, and also the strength and independence of the judiciary. Polities can have written constitutions full of specific rights and guarantees that are ignored, and weak or subservient courts that are ineffective in enforcing them. On the other hand, a so-called unwritten constitution whose norms are both longstanding and generally respected can be appealed to effectively when those norms are breached. I’m sure someone more intimately conversant with the details of modern British political history than I am could come up with examples of the unwritten constitution having a constraining effect, maybe not as often as it might have or maybe less in recent years, but I have little doubt that the historical examples are there. And of course, the “unwritten” British constitution is comprised partly of written documents, such as the 1689 Bill of Rights and other acts of Parliament.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_of_Rights_1689

Moreover, there are certain drawbacks to a polity’s being tied to a single codified constitution, as anyone somewhat familiar with e.g. the U.S. Constitution and the history of its interpretation can attest. Many Americans are taught to think of the U.S. Constitution as a quasi-sacred document which, despite its merits especially after the Reconstruction Amendments, it is far from being. The recent Trump impeachment trial highlighted yet again how vague and open to conflicting interpretations some of the key provisions of the Constitution, in this case the impeachment clause, are. To be sure, some interpretations are better than others (I thought Alan Dershowitz’s views as set out in his presentation to the Senate during the impeachment trial were quite absurd despite the patina of pseudo-historical “scholarship”), but that’s a separate point.

25

Matt 02.13.20 at 5:19 am

Thinking a bit more about the claim of “dangerousness” here – while I’m not sure about the UK, in many countries, it’s sufficient to be deported to have been convicted of certain crimes or to have served a sentence of a particular length. (In Australia, it’s a sentence of one year or more, or two or more sentences that total two years or more. In the US sentence lengths are less important, and the trigger is being convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony”. Both of those terms are more captious than most people would suspect.) There need be – and typically is not – any further investigation into the “dangerousness” of the person involved.

But note, in the case of citizens, we typically think that once the person has served their sentence, they are to be treated, to a large degree, like others. And, in states where basic rights are respected, mere “dangerousness” is not a ground for more than brief detention, at least not outside of special cases. (Post-release restrictions on liberty could be applied to non-citizens as well as to citizens, if needed and appropriate.) This makes the claim that long-term residents who have been convicted of, at least, most crimes should be deported for “dangerousness” suspect, it seems to me.

We might plausibly make a distinction here for at least some non-citizens who are not long-term residents, perhaps especially those w/o citizen family members. In such cases, it is less clear that the people in question are “members of the society” who must be treated decently after serving their sentence, just like any other. For such people, removal to their own country seems to me to be much less open to objection. (This helps, I think, address SRH’s question above. ) Making this practical would involve developing justiciable rules or standards as to who counts as a “member of the society”, but that doesn’t seem especially implausible to me.

26

faustusnotes 02.13.20 at 6:43 am

I’m liking Dipper’s contribution here, in particular this:

a significant number of people who came over from the Caribbean in the second half of last century do not have their citizenship fully in order

This is splendid. The use of the phrase “fully in order” is a really nice piece of low-key fascism. Tell me Dipper, do you have your papers in order? Does the phrase “are your papers in order” mean anything to you?

Because if you don’t have a passport it is actually quite difficult to prove your citizenship in the UK, as Chris alludes to in the OP and as you (as always) fail to understand from your position of white cluelessness. I bet you don’t have the first clue what is required to prove you are a citizen, and how much of that proof depends on having parents who have their papers in order, or even grandparents with the right proof. I’m sure you could have taken the time in your life to find out what it involves, but you haven’t, have you? You really don’t have a clue. You’ve been voting to produce this system of cruelty and exclusion for the past 50 years, but you don’t have a clue about how it works or what it does – and sneer at people when they point out that it is mean. I think you’d be surprised, if the system decided to demand proof of citizenship from you and your mates, at how many of you have no proof at all of your citizenship and are unable to get your papers in order. But you are confident the system won’t ask you, because you’re white. And you’re incapable of imagining what is actually involved.

Another nice example of this is “I’m happy for the courts to sort it out.” The courts put a hold on this flight but it took off anyway. But you don’t care because it’s not happening to you, or to anyone white.

27

Chris Bertram 02.13.20 at 7:58 am

@Stephen: (1) I think deportation and citizenship deprivation raise rather different issues. The extension of citizenship deprivation simply to permit deportation of “serious criminals”, where only people with dual nationality are exposed to that measure marks a serious division within a class of people (citizens) who are supposedly equal and a division that is highly correlated with racial and ethnic difference.
(2) OK, suppose X, who is now 35 but who came to the UK aged 3 has committed horrendous crimes: say, the rape and murder of multiple small children. I understand the impulse just to get rid of that person, but which country should take responsibility? Should it fall on a wealthy country with a developed criminal justice system and prison system where that person was socialized and turned into the person they are? Or should that country offload them onto a poorer country with fewer resource, merely on the ground of their nominal nationality? You see, it isn’t just about individual rights, it is also about countries doing their part in an international system rather than acting as dumpers and free riders.

28

Maria 02.13.20 at 11:19 am

Even holding the government to its own PR about the people on the flight – that they had all been guilty of ‘serious crimes’ – would be a start. They had not. One of them got a 2-month sentence which a later judge said was OTT for the offence.

Another on the flight was a soldier with rampant PTSD, done for GBH and who had received zero aftercare after a couple of wretched tours.

I’d personally LOVE to see a Home Secretary resign for recidivism by rapists let out of prison early due to over-crowding, or whose prosecution is delayed beyond the point of reasonable success by the under-funded court system. Read the Secret Barrister if you have any doubts about the number of lives being destroyed by this government. Resignations there are zero.

This flight was a stain on Britain and clear marker of the corrosion of rule of law. I’ve seen no purer example of the right’s use of the state to punish, not support, the powerless, and to only uphold and never hold responsible those with power. (Corbyn’s PMQ on Johnson’s foreign birth, cocaine use and conspiracy to commit crime was brutally correct.) FaustusNotes is right about the chilling ‘papers, please’ response of those who assume the state will never turn on them.

29

Dipper 02.13.20 at 11:28 am

@ faustusnotes. For clarity, my view is that those people with Caribbean heritage who do not have clearly defined citizenship should have their UK citizenship confirmed to avoid precisely this kind of incident. The Home Office attitude to citizenship is a consistent own goal.

30

faustusnotes 02.14.20 at 2:14 am

Yes, as Chris notes, implicit in a defense of this principle of deporting British citizens with dual citizenship is the division of citizens into two classes. Also there is the very shabby practice of dumping our criminals onto countries who never, in practice, had any responsibility for the personal development of those individuals. The implicit attribution of criminality to the racial background of those people is obvious.

Dipper, you might like to think about how easy that own goal is to score. In my case, for example, I am a British citizen by parentage, but born in NZ and with parents living in other countries, while I live in Japan. I am fortunate enough to have possession of my NZ birth certificate, and I have had a UK passport since my childhood. In my 20s I allowed that passport to expire and then threw it away. When the time came to renew my passport I had no evidence I ever had one and the consulate in Japan refused to believe I ever had one. I essentially had to prove my citizenship over again, without any documentation. I argued with multiple staff at the consulate until one finally saw sense and allowed me to submit an application, at which point someone somewhere in the UK must have found a record for me. Given their recent behavior (e.g. asking a 101 year old man to get proof from his parents), and particularly given the chaotic nature of record keeping in many countries and many families, this “papers in order” stuff is super risky. You would be surprised how many people living in your country have basically no evidence of their citizenship rights and are completely dependent upon the government having suitable records (and a good faith approach to disputes) in order to protect those rights. Once you’ve lived overseas – or if you come from relatively mixed families – you begin to get a sense of what that means. Otherwise, you remain clueless to these risks.

Another example (not British) is my eligibility for Spanish citizenship. After Brexit I investigated, and since my grandfather was spanish I think I’m eligible if I live there for a year. But how do I prove my grandfather was spanish? He fled Spain after the Fascist victory with only his clothes, a rifle and a stone from his hometown, spent a year in a camp in France and joined the Foreign Legion. Where are his documents? What should I do? It would be easier for me to get Japanese citizenship than to find any evidence of my Spanish rights. No doubt a lot of older migrants to the UK are in that position, and you and your Brexit ilk show zero respect for that.

In fact I bet if my grandfather were still alive the UK govt would be demanding proof of citizenship and threatening to deport a man who fought for the British army against the Nazis for 5 years, and contributed to the growth of post-war Britain with every bone and sinew. But to you he’s just a second class citizen who should have his “papers in order”.

31

Collin Street 02.14.20 at 2:43 am

Dipper, citizenship status is not “ill-defined”. The laws are unambiguous: it’s just that theresa may ordered all the records destroyed.

You’ve been told this before, btw. Clearly you didn’t learn from being told: in your experience, what does it take for you to learn?

(When people don’t take the actions you would in a given situation, the most common explanation is that they have different preferences to you. And the actions in turn reveal their preferences. I mean.. have you written to your local member to express your preference, or marched or posted on social media? “I’d like people to have citizenship rather than being deported, but I’d rather sleep in than do anything about it”, no?)

32

Moz in Oz 02.14.20 at 2:51 am

I wonder how long it will be before other “other” countries follow Bangladesh in saying “not here, not them”, and specifically I wonder whether it might be possible to pass a law saying “if someone with dual citizenship is convicted of a crime in another country their citizenship here is automatically forfeit”. Would be problematic for countries like Australia that have birthright citizenship.

Specifically, I can’t see Australia accepting that, even from a country as near and dear as Aotearoa/New Zealand, let alone some racially-inferior(sic) dumping ground like PNG.

33

J-D 02.14.20 at 9:29 am

J-D: “citation please” is calling someone a liar-or-idiot.

When I see on Wikipedia where one Wikipedian has tagged something written by another Wikipedian ‘Citation needed’, I don’t interpret that as meaning ‘You are a liar or an idiot’. I interpret it as meaning ‘This is the kind of statement which should be substantiated’.

I am aware that we are not editing Wikipedia. I have stopped writing ‘Citation needed’ in favour of the less prescriptive ‘Citation, please’. But now I think I’m going to drop that in favour of the less peremptory ‘I would like that statement to be substantiated’.

If somebody responded to one of my comments with the words ‘I would like that statement to be substantiated’ or ‘Citation, please’ or even ‘Citation needed’ (or even ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’), I would not experience it as offensive or insulting or hurtful. As far as I can tell from reading Matt’s responses (although I am aware I may be missing something), he hasn’t experienced my comments as offensive or insulting or hurtful; he seems to have experienced them as annoying/irritating/vexatious, which is not the same thing. It was not my intention to cause either vexation or offence, and if I did I regret it. Maybe it would have been better if I had chosen my words differently. I’ll keep working on that.

34

Peter T 02.14.20 at 12:11 pm

An interesting point is that the current governments of the US, Australia and the UK are not only cruel but incompetent. Trump loses in any court the Republicans have not packed, and sometimes in those they have, records are lost or not kept, differing and contradictory explanations offered, people are sacked or leave. The PM of Australia first denies he is on holiday despite photos, offers spin so feeble that it has to be replaced a day or two later and has no program at all, Johnson has lost his chancellor within months of election. Cruelty is about all they have.

35

Collin Street 02.14.20 at 12:23 pm

But now I think I’m going to drop that in favour of the less peremptory ‘I would like that statement to be substantiated’.

This is in no way an improvement.

Look: this is a game. Nothing’s riding on it. But it’s a game like hackey-sack. The point is to keep the game going, not to force someone to drop the ball. Provide opportunities for learning, exercise, improvement, give people a chance to show their skills or at least fail impressively.

“Citation needed” is a bad play because it’s boring and, well, selfish [this is what makes it rude; I’m describing different aspects of the same phenomenon using different words]. Contributes nothing, just — literally — demands someone else play again because you didn’t think their first play was impressive enough. If you must play that move, add a bit of style, make a contribution. Give evidence against instead of asking for evidence for, or something.

[why is it rude in this context and not rude in the wikipedia? Different contexts; in the wiki, you’re engaged in an exercise of cooperative writing to craft an essay, and the comments you make writing the essay are of a different nature to the essay itself. Because you’re working cooperatively and your “citation needed” becomes helpful to your joint end, writing a better essay. Here, though, the end is different and the “citation needed” ceases to be useful.]

36

J-D 02.14.20 at 5:42 pm

Give evidence against instead of asking for evidence for, or something.

If somebody tells me that in Bermuda mirrors are known as leaks, what could I conceivably produce as evidence against? Wouldn’t it make more sense to request substantiation? I could of course use ‘Bermuda’, ‘mirror’, and ‘leak’ as search terms in DuckDuckGo, but I’ve just tried that and the search does not return hits for Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast Of Champions (in which the character of Kilgore Trout tells people that where he comes from people refer to mirrors as leaks, and when asked where he comes from replies ‘Bermuda’).

37

Collin Street 02.14.20 at 10:12 pm

An interesting point is that the current governments of the US, Australia and the UK are not only cruel but incompetent.

I’ve pointed this out before, but the only direct beneficiaries of social stratification are the incompetent members of the upper stratum. Invariably the typical supporter of reaction is a “failure” of some description who identifies the upward progress of [subaltern groups] as the cause of their lack-of-success, stealing the place that they’re entitled to.

[this is also why all reactive movements are misogynistic; women are subaltern everywhere]

38

Collin Street 02.15.20 at 8:50 am

If somebody tells me that in Bermuda mirrors are known as leaks, what could I conceivably produce as evidence against?

Why do you need to produce evidence?
Why do you doubt, anyway? [if you have a reason then that reason is evidence, no? If you have no evidence against you have no reason to doubt]

[hrm. You’re treating the hypothetical as false even while you’re analysing it, I think. Because you know it’s false real-world, but that’s not what you’re supposed to pay attention to. To learn something from a hypothetical you have to pretend it’s true.]

Can I encourage you to drop this and just think about it rather than asking for clarification and pushing back against me to see if I’ve made any errors? I’ve already spent a couple of hours on this, and I really can’t prioritise giving you any more time for the foreseeable.

39

Tim Worstall 02.15.20 at 1:33 pm

” it would be fairly easy to clamp down on the UK media. Change ownership laws so that you can only own a single newspaper, have to be paying taxes and resident in the UK.”

Seems a bit harsh on The Guardian – which owns the Observer and is itself owned by a charitable trust which, by definition, doesn’t pay tax on its income.

No, not just snark, rather an example of why such things are not “fairly easy”.

40

Hidari 02.15.20 at 7:17 pm

@39

Oh no, not a law that might inconvenience the Guardian, maybe to the extent that the Guardian (or, better still, the Observer) might have to shut down, that would be awful, how would we all survive.

41

J-D 02.15.20 at 10:52 pm

Cian

The media are the enemy. Much of it needs to be destroyed.

Myself

… Donald Trump needs to be less dishonest …

Cian

JD – it would be fairly easy to clamp down on the UK media.

It would be fairly easy for Donald Trump to be less dishonest.

42

J-D 02.15.20 at 10:58 pm

Why do you need to produce evidence?

I don’t, but it was your suggestion.

Why do you doubt, anyway?

I am prepared to be proved wrong, but I would hazard the guess that my reasons for doubting it to be true that mirrors are referred to as leaks in Bermuda are similar to your own reasons for doubting it, but just as difficulty to articulate briefly.

Can I encourage you to drop this and just think about it rather than asking for clarification and pushing back against me to see if I’ve made any errors?

I have thought about it. My comments reflect my thoughts.

I’ve already spent a couple of hours on this, and I really can’t prioritise giving you any more time for the foreseeable.

If you respond to me, it’s by your own choice. You can always choose not to.

43

J-D 02.16.20 at 12:53 am

The third is that this may be electorally popular, which raises questions for the left: how do we fight injustice in a democracy when deliberate cruelty and injustice come with political benefits?

If the election result is determined by who the voters think takes a firmer line on immigration, then the Conservatives will almost certainly win. Therefore the left should try, so far as it’s within the power of the left to influence, to avoid a situation where the election result is determined by who the voters think takes a firmer line on immigration. More generally, it’s basic strategic advice to try to avoid fighting on ground that favours the opposition and instead to seek to engage on ground that favours your own side. In general, I doubt that immigration policy is likely to be favourable ground for the left in any electoral competition, so I think the left should try to avoid it as much as possible. How difficult would it be for the left to find more favourable ground and engage there?

44

Tm 02.16.20 at 11:32 am

It is sadly true that deporting so-called criminal foreigners is a vote-winner for the fascists. Although not a huge one, but very effective to fire up the fascist base, as Trump has proven.

Those who are interested in this issue might want to look into the recent development in Switzerland https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eidgenössische_Volksinitiative_«Für_die_Ausschaffung_krimineller_Ausländer_(Ausschaffungsinitiative)»

I‘m sure there is some literature in English (certainly in French) but you’ll have to look for the references yourself.

Briefly, there were two votes. In the First, the Extreme Right won narrowly, 53 to 47 (a Brexit majority). Parliament then had to implement the „will of the people“ but in a manner consistent with basic human rights guarantees. The Right then smelled another chance to push the discourse. That time they lost, 41 to 59.

Re the question whether Anglo countries are worse than others – probably not but do some research internationally if you can, I think it’s worthwhile.

45

Blessing 02.16.20 at 12:55 pm

I’m sure I still have a lot more to read up on this issue. So far though, I feel that the “standard of deservingness” posited by Foster for immigrant communities is worth looking into.

46

Dipper 02.16.20 at 4:11 pm

@ TM “It is sadly true that deporting so-called criminal foreigners is a vote-winner for the fascists. “. This is such a classic CT comment. Virtue in powerlessness.

In the unlikely event of people here getting actual responsibility, you will be faced many times with a 2×2 matrix. You have a problem. There is a standard solution S. Or you can be brave, stand up for decency, make the world a better place, and make the bold decision B. And your actions can succeed or fail. CTers like to say how good the world would be if decision B is implemented and it succeeds. but when you have actual responsibility, that is not the box in the 2×2 grid that keeps you awake at night. The insomnia box is B and fail.

So fine, choose decency over fascism, go ahead and intervene and stop those deportations. But when this guy reoffends, how are you going to explain your decision to the victim and their family?

47

Dipper 02.16.20 at 4:15 pm

… and my hypertext fail excluded the fact that this guy is https://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2020-02-14/rapist-jailed-more-than-three-years-after-first-attack-in-harlow/

Due to be deported when his sentence is over. But feel free to plead for him to stay.

48

Peter T 02.17.20 at 12:03 am

Dipper

Law and justice is not a simple matrix. There is judgement involved. People who have been resident in Australia all their lives from infancy, who speak nothing but English, have no connections with their birth country, have been dumped in Serbia or Croatia. Those responsible plead that the law mandates this – but then they wrote the law.

In some cases these people are continuing petty criminals, who will fairly surely continue to be a burden to society. But it is hard to see why they should be a burden to Croatia rather than Australia, or why the processes that apply to Australians should not apply to them (as also in the case you cite – are there no ways of dealing with determined native recidivists?). Or are you happy to see your country and mine dump the social rubbish over the fence – and no doubt whine when the neighbours retaliate?

49

faustusnotes 02.17.20 at 2:08 am

More fascism from Dipper. Dipper, why is it worse if a person with two nationalities reoffends, than if a person with one? If you deport someone to another country and they rape someone there, is it less of a crime because it affected a foreign woman? Is the political price for recidivism different if it’s a British citizen who reoffends than if it is a foreigner? If the political price is important, do you think all criminals should be locked up permanently?

The ITV report you link to doesn’t say anything about whether the perpetrator of that crime is a long-term British resident. The likelihood is he’s not, in which case it has no relevance to a the issue at hand, does it?

This statement here, it is at the heart of a lot of problems in British society:

when this guy reoffends, how are you going to explain your decision to the victim and their family?

If that statement is about a British citizen, what is your solution?

50

Matt_M 02.17.20 at 4:28 am

@Dipper: how does deporting the guy make it less likely that he will reoffend?

51

J-D 02.17.20 at 10:33 am

In the unlikely event of people here getting actual responsibility, you will be faced many times with a 2×2 matrix. You have a problem. There is a standard solution S. Or you can be brave, stand up for decency, make the world a better place, and make the bold decision B. And your actions can succeed or fail. CTers like to say how good the world would be if decision B is implemented and it succeeds. but when you have actual responsibility, that is not the box in the 2×2 grid that keeps you awake at night. The insomnia box is B and fail.

Why should it be that choosing B and failing causes nightmares, but choosing S and failing does not cause nightmares?

When you have actual responsibility, Dipper, which do you do? Do you decide to be brave, stand up for decency, and make the world a better place; or not?

52

notGoodenough 02.17.20 at 10:44 am

Dipper @ 46 and 47

Congratulations – of all the asinine, ignorant, and short-sighted things you have said, this is perhaps the most egregious.

Let´s go through your statements together. I don´t expect you´ll learn anything – heaven knows you´ve repeatedly shown that to be a false hope – but just as a matter of record (though I expect others will also chime in with commentary superior to my own relatively small effort).

“In the unlikely event of people here getting actual responsibility”

While this is a fairly minor point, it is rather telling that Dipper assumes no-one on CT has ever had “actual responsibility”. Not the internationally recognised professors who are expected to juggle research, teaching, and mentoring with administration, budgeting, applying for funding, and advising the global community. Not those CTs who have been in the army, or have started their own companies. Not those who advise government on policy, or promulgate the direction their companies have to take to keep afloat. Nope, none of those things count as experiencing “actual responsibility” in Dipper´s mind.

I mean even I (hardly the most experienced member of CT) was – for 3 years – responsible, ethically and legally, for the ongoing well-being of ca. 100 people in a research institute, and now currently oversee my own team of about 10 people in an internationally recognised institue which regularly advises companies regarding product development and governments on energy policy. Perhaps you don´t consider that that quite lives up to being a 2nd hand car dealer in Chipping Norton (or whatever your personal apogee of “actual responsibility” is) but I think most of us have enough of an idea to understand the concept without requiring your condescending and, frankly speaking, childishly simplistic comment.

Moving on:

”So fine, choose decency over fascism, go ahead and intervene and stop those deportations.”

It is nice to see you finally admitting that you would choose fascism over decency – an unexpected moment of honesty from you.

“But when this guy reoffends, how are you going to explain your decision to the victim and their family?”

Well, unlike you I don´t slap a label on a whole segment of people and assume they are all identical. For example, I don´t assume that every victim of rape is going to feel the same way about their attacker. Some may be fine with the idea of someone being pardoned after serving their term, others may not. So, in the unlikely event of your scenario occurring, first of all I´d see what the victim´s opinion is, rather than – as you obviously do – assuming every person has the same perspective as you.

It is interesting that you make the implicit assumption that everyone who has committed a crime will reoffend. It is certainly an insight into Dipper´s understanding of the world. But why stop here? Let´s extend it still further – if someone has committed a speeding offense, how do we justify not locking them up indefinitely? After all, they might speed again, and then hit someone and kill them. Well, actually the resolution is fairly easy – typically we punish people for crimes they have committed, not crimes that we think they might potentially commit at some unspecified point in the future. Clearly you think this is a problem with the system – I wonder if you realise Minority Report was not a documentary?

If, on the other hand, you object to someone “clearly dangerous” (however we are supposed to assess that perfectly every time) being released, your objection is to the way our justice system assesses and releases offenders, and not to the actual debate we are having here regarding deportation.

Of course, it is also rather telling that – rather than discussing any of the people the OP or anyone else is discussing – you turn to a different case, with different circumstances, in order to try and make your point. It is something of a habit of yours.

It is also interesting that you, like many others making the same arguments as you, focus on the “worst case”. It would be nice if you also considered that some of the people targeted for deportation have served their sentences and not committed any crimes since – but clearly you don´t feel that that is a mitigating factor.

Even given all this, you still fail to make the argument that someone who has served their time should be still considered a menace to society and deported (inadvertently reinforcing the point Chris Bertram made about “dumping our problems on other, poorer countries”).

But, just for now, let´s be very generous – let´s ignore all the objections which can or will be made against your comments: let´s assume it is fine for the government to ignore legal challenges on a whim; that no mistakes ever happen regarding sentencing individuals, and that no-one is ever innocent, or has been confused with someone else due to a paperwork error; let´s also assume that it is fine to deport someone who has served a sentence for committing a crime, even if they have lived many years afterwards without ever any propensity for reoffending; let´s assume that it is fine to ignore our responsibilities towards people, and deport them regardless of what may happen afterwards; let´s also assume that there could be no repercussions from deporting someone to a country they haven´t been to since they were a child, have no ties to, don´t speak the language, and have even less chances for pursuing an honest life than they would in the UK; let´s assume that everyone who has ever committed a crime will always reoffend, and that if anyone reoffends it is due to some innate moral failing and not because of any systematic problems, and thus they have lost any right to pursue a normal life after serving their time; moreover, let´s assume that tearing someone away from their family in the UK will not impact that family in any way (even if they have a partner, and a young child who has suddenly lost a parent).

Let´s grant, for the sake of your argument, all of these things and more.

If someone has lived in the UK for the majority of their life and been raised under a UK system, has then committed a crime in the UK, been sentenced under UK law, and served that sentence, how do you justify subsequently making them “someone else´s problem”? For all of your comments regarding “actual responsibility”, you seem curiously keen to abrogate it as soon as you possibly can.

I don´t particularly expect you to address any of the points made here, but it would be nice if you at least considered the possibility that allowing the home office to pick and choose who it deports is somewhat unhealthy, as it then reinforces the idea that the law may be ignored whenever politically convenient. Is that really something you want to encourage?

(No need to answer the rhetorical question – you´ve already made your position quite clear with respect to expecting the Tory party to be bound by rules or convention).

53

Jim Buck 02.17.20 at 12:03 pm

And you feel free to play the haughty sneering winner, Mr Dip. Drunk on power, as you seem to be, have you not twigged that the Harlow attacker is not from our former colony, wasn’t brought here as a child, etc? Perhaps, you have, yet don’t give a bullfuck–deport ’em all and let god and the dogs sort ’em out. Happy trials!

54

Dipper 02.17.20 at 5:29 pm

@ Jim Buck. “have you not twigged that the Harlow attacker is not from our former colony, wasn’t brought here as a child, etc?” above I state that the ‘Windrush generation’ should have their UK citizenship confirmed so they don’t get deported.

@ notGoodenough “though I expect others will also chime in with commentary superior to my own relatively small effort” oh don’t put yourself down “2nd hand car dealer in Chipping Norton” I wish “but it would be nice if you at least considered the possibility that allowing the home office to pick and choose who it deports is somewhat unhealthy” that is exactly my point as I stated above, and why this stuff should be done by courts. The notion that a Home Secretary is going to plough through 5,000 foreign prisoner releases and decide on a whim whether each person is going to stay or not is ridiculous for the reason you state. What is being asked in the OP is for the Home Secretary to pick and choose.

“It is interesting that you make the implicit assumption that everyone who has committed a crime will reoffend.” I didn’t. But recidivism states are quite high, so in a large sample of released offenders, some of them will re-offend. And that comes back to the HS.

And the OP is not about releasing prisoners per se, it is about deporting criminals who have indeterminate citizenship.

@ faustusnotes If you deport someone to another country and they rape someone there, is it less of a crime because it affected a foreign woman? “. Objectively no, but the Home Secretary’s job is looking after the UK population, in which case telling a rape victim that someone was going to get raped, so might just as well be you as someone in the offender’s home country, doesn’t strike me as being the kind of response likely to result in you staying in the job longer than the time taken to retweet on Twitter.

“when this guy reoffends, how are you going to explain your decision to the victim and their family? If that statement is about a British citizen, what is your solution?”

This is obviously not an uncommon occurrence. The usual response is to say these things are handled by the courts and through the parole board. The obvious problem is that if each sentence and release decision was left up to the (any) Home Secretary no-one would ever get out. And as a society should look to rehabilitate offenders then a process which allows release and rehabilitation without the Home Secretary being on the hook for every subsequent crime is a good thing.

@ J-D “Why should it be that choosing B and failing causes nightmares, but choosing S and failing does not cause nightmares? When you have actual responsibility, Dipper, which do you do? Do you decide to be brave, stand up for decency, and make the world a better place; or not?”. It depends. A single S-fail should not get you fired as you are implementing the ready-made solution you have inherited. Repeated S-fail will get you fired as it is your job to look out for such things and change them. So, my view is you need to choose your moments. If I was Home Secretary I’d be asking some civil servants in the Home Office why despite assurances this issue of Windrush citizenship was still landing on my desk and getting me in the papers.

55

Tm 02.17.20 at 6:07 pm

The responses above, as thoughtful as they are, sadden me a bit because they prove once more how easy it is for the fascists to frame the public discourse.

Btw the Swiss Case is instructive for several reasons, not least because it shows that the Right can be successfully challenged if the liberals stand up for human rights and the rule of law with at least the same passion as the fascists working to weaken them.

Some English references:

https://www.humanrights.ch/en/switzerland/internal-affairs/foreigners/general/a-clear-enforcement-initiative-a-distinct-rule-law
https://www.humanrights.ch/en/switzerland/internal-affairs/foreigners/general/implementation-deportation-initiative-includes-hardship-clause

56

Collin Street 02.17.20 at 11:10 pm

Rules are there to stop bad things, which means they’re only needed to stop people who want to do bad things. Which is to say bad people. Good people definitionally never want to do bad things and so never need to be stopped: rules only get in their way.

The key here is the gap between intent and outcome, or rather the failure to realise there is a gap.

57

Chris Bertram 02.18.20 at 8:08 am

Too many threads are occupied by people responding to Dipper’s ethno-authoritarian ramblings. We’re wanting to improve the quality of comments here at CT since dealing with pain-in-the-arse commenters causes good ones to disappear and also acts as a major psychological overhead dissuading people from writing in the first place. So Dipper, you are permanently banned from my threads.

58

notGoodenough 02.18.20 at 12:02 pm

Chris Bertram @ OP

As always, some thought-provoking (and deeply concerning) stuff. I am, I´m afraid, relatively ignorant regarding these important topics (e.g. immigration, deportation, questions of who “counts” as a citizen, etc.), but from an idiot´s perspective I had some thoughts/questions (but please feel free to delete this comment if it wanders too far off topic, as I don´t want to distract from an important conversation).

General ramblings

Regarding the three points made by Chris Bertram (and I´m afraid these are probably somewhat naive thoughts), in reverse order, I wondered:

1) Regarding the popularity of this move – does anyone have a feel for it? While I can imagine a certain degree of indifference by most people, and certainly it will be popular among a certain crowd, do we have an idea of how it is actually being received? If I recall correctly, while looking into this a little using “the Google”, one of my hits was an article (from the Daily Mail no less!) highlighting one person targeted, and it seemed (for the DM) relatively sympathetic in painting them as “one of the good ones” facing deportation and leaving their kid behind. Not to suggest that the DM is exactly a bastion for the fair treatment of deportees, but I do wonder – if you´ve even lost the DM (albeit perhaps only a little, and in one specific case), how popular will it be with the majority of voters?

Also, as the chaos of Brexit kicks in – and we start seeing more headlines about people who are much harder to demonise (i.e. “Swedish oncologist who volunteers at kitten sanctuary kicked out!”) – will attitudes change (not that deportees are any less deserving, but purely as a question of changing optics)? Will the increased problems faced by even the relatively privileged start influencing perception of immigration and deportation too?

Or is this more one of those doomed-to-repeat-the-past type things?

2) Regarding Windrush is over. If I were feeling particularly cynical, I might suggest that it is a matter of finding the “right” people who can be safely “other-ed” in order to establish the principle, after which – well, now we have a precedent.

I have, for various reasons, always been a little wary of the indifference / hostility to people not deemed sufficiently “one-of-us”. Am I an outlier with respect to a majority of UKians?

It seems to me the UK has always been quite individualistic and a little suspicious of “foreigners” (perhaps as a result of being an island, perhaps partly played for “comedy”), but is this sort of active hostility more or less constant, cyclical, trending upwards, etc.?

3) The whole who is and isn´t British thing always seemed a little vague, to me at least. Indeed, I have always struggled a little with this, and never really got a clear response, as it seems to me that – when you come down to it – there isn´t really anything significant you can point at as exclusive to British people (and thus “what makes us British”). And, while I don´t wish to make light of cultural differences, I probably have far more in common with most of my “non-British” co-workers than I do with the “British” Rees-Mogg.

What I don´t really grok is why the sort of determinations being made in these cases are not getting much more pushback. Are people really so confident that these things can´t later be expanded to encompass whoever is convenient? Is this another example of the voting-for-leopards-eating-faces-party?

Again, apologies if my ramblings are OT, or perhaps my questions are not conducive to a sensible discussion – this is another area I need to read up on, and don´t really know where to begin.

59

notGoodenough 02.18.20 at 12:19 pm

Collin Street @ 56

Indeed. Of course, good people are – by definition – good, and so can never do bad things (they have unfortunate lapses in judgement, which can happen to any good person). Bad people, by contrast, are of course bad, so everything they do is probably a symptom of their moral degeneracy.

On a purely unrelated note, do you happen to know (from Blackadder) General Melchett´s comments regarding the relative characters of British vs German spies? For some reason they have just come to my mind…

60

Cian 02.18.20 at 1:12 pm

JD – I’m not sure what your point is when you responded to me. The mechanisms that could be used to tame the media in the UK are there. If your point is that isn’t going to happen under the current government – well of course. But a Labour government if so motivated could do things quite easily.

How Labour get elected in such a media hostile environment is a different question, and I do think it kind of points to the irrelevance of the leader’s debate that nobody is really discussing this. But if things continue in their current direction then the future of the UK will look something a little like Hungary, or Berlusconi’s Italy.

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Barry 02.18.20 at 2:52 pm

Chris, thank you!

To the other bloggers here – IMHO, Dipper has a long track record of dishonesty.
As Teresa Nielsen Hayden of ‘Making Light’ (a venerable blog from the Olden Days) once said, if you don’t police the conversation, then you are like a gardener who refuses to weed.[1]

[1] quote from memory.

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J-D 02.18.20 at 9:03 pm

The mechanisms that could be used to tame the media in the UK are there. If your point is that isn’t going to happen under the current government – well of course. But a Labour government if so motivated could do things quite easily.

Donald Trump could quite easily be less dishonest if so motivated. He’s not so motivated. It might be easy for anybody to be honest if so motivated, but it doesn’t matter how easy it is if the person is not so motivated.

Past Labour governments have not adopted the kind of media policy you recommend. If it’s as easy as you say it is, then a plausible explanation is that they have not been so motivated. If past Labour governments have not been so motivated, future Labour governments also might not be.

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Zhou Fang 02.19.20 at 12:50 pm

The belief in the power of the media is in this way is self-contradictory. If the media is so powerful, how would you expect a Labour party that aims to clamp down on the media to ever win? And how lasting do you expect such a clampdown to be? Loyalists might applaud, but if a Labour government goes after the Daily Mail, if you think the Mail’s readership will side with the government in such a case – and not join with centrists to rigorously overturn an overreaching and anti-democratic government and vote them out at the earliest opportunity…

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Cian 02.19.20 at 1:13 pm

J-D: Wow, thanks for the truism wrapped up as profundity.

The last Labour government was in 2010. The last Labour leader who got easy coverage from the UK media (i.e. the kind of coverage taken for granted by the Conservatives) was Tony Blair, who debased himself before Murdoch. Every leader since 2007 has been monstered by the media, no matter what their policies. At this point, as the last election demonstrated, there is no path to power for Labour that does not involve sidelining the media. There was also the news international hacking scandal of 2011.

Is this enough? Who can say – but to make some facile comparison to Donald Trump is pretty stupid.

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Cian 02.19.20 at 1:24 pm

Zhou Fang:
The belief in the power of the media is in this way is self-contradictory. If the media is so powerful, how would you expect a Labour party that aims to clamp down on the media to ever win?

The UK media is currently powerful because Labour has not found a way to campaign that doesn’t require it. What’s needed is an alternative campaigning strategy that renders the media irrelivant. In the past, when unions and working class institutions were stronger, the media was less important. However the Labour party, particularly under Blair, let these things wither and die. So the task for Labour is to build grassroots

And how lasting do you expect such a clampdown to be? Loyalists might applaud, but if a Labour government goes after the Daily Mail, if you think the Mail’s readership will side with the government in such a case – and not join with centrists to rigorously overturn an overreaching and anti-democratic government and vote them out at the earliest opportunity…

Daily Mail readers are Tories. The problem isn’t the Daily Mail readership (I mean it is, but every country has it’s petit-bourgeoise fascists) – it’s that the newspaper along with the rest of the right wing press effectively set the news agenda for the BBC and TV media.

And given that the UK press at this point is essentially a conduit for wealthy billionares to dictate the politics of the UK, not sure how you think going after them would be anti-democratic. The UK press created Brexit by essentially making crap up about the EU for 40 years so people believed it. The UK press has created much of the anti-immigrant sentiment with awful, racist, lies – including making up numerous stories, and distorting others.

And there would be nothing anti-democratic about regulating the UK press. Like I said above, it would simply require changing ownership rules so that foreign (including foreign domiciled owners) can’t own UK media, and to limit how much of the media they can own. And also making it easier for ordinary people to sue newspapers and to clamp down on privacy laws. I don’t think foreigners realize how bad the UK press is, and I don’t think the British realize how atypical the UK press is compared to international norms.

A cultural shift is harder, and I’m not sure how one would make that happen. But at this point working for newspapers like the Times, Telegraph, Mail, Express – should be seen as roughly equivalent to working for Der Stormer.

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Hidari 02.19.20 at 1:42 pm

@63: ‘If the media is so powerful, how would you expect a Labour party that aims to clamp down on the media to ever win?’

How indeed?

‘The belief in the power of the media is in this way is self-contradictory.’

I don’t think that word (i.e. self-contradictory) means what you think it means.

@62: ‘Past Labour governments have not adopted the kind of media policy you recommend.’ Indeed they have not. And why do we think that is? One possibility is indeed that they are not so motivated. And why do we think that might be?

Ipso facto: what happened (i.e. in the media) to putative governments (e.g. Corbyn’s) that did indeed look as if they were so motivated? Did they gain power or not? And what was their treatment in the media? And is there any relationship between these two factors?

So many questions.

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Zhou Fang 02.19.20 at 3:00 pm

“I don’t think that word (i.e. self-contradictory) means what you think it means.”

You cannot simultaneously believe that the media is responsible for the Party’s unavoidable defeat, and yet there is “an alternative campaigning strategy that renders the media irrelivant” (sic). If there is such an alternative strategy, then it’s the fault of the party for pursuing that strategy, and if that strategy works, why do you need to clamp down on the media at all?

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Cranky Observer 02.19.20 at 8:37 pm

= = = The last Labour leader who got easy coverage from the UK media (i.e. the kind of coverage taken for granted by the Conservatives) was Tony Blair, who debased himself before Murdoch. Every leader since 2007 has been monstered by the media, no matter what their policies. = = =

We don’t know when Murdoch’s organization learned how to crack and monitor cell phones, nor how much compromising information they collected before being found out (if indeed they have actually stopped).

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J-D 02.19.20 at 9:41 pm

What’s needed is an alternative campaigning strategy that renders the media irrelivant.

Too bad there isn’t one. You might just as well say ‘all that’s needed is the Chintamani stone’.

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Zhou Fang 02.20.20 at 12:51 pm

We should accept the truth that the popularity of the right wing media is in a large part a *symptom* of the Labour party’s failure to address and counter their messaging, their kneejerk abandonment of what are dismissed as “tory voters” as lost causes, and the inclination to alienate themselves from mainstream platforms percieved as hostile instead of engage in them. Everything else is just wishful thinking.

I mean, if people are genuine in their belief that Blair “debasing himself before Murdoch” makes all the difference – independent of actual Labour policy, the moral imperative for any future Labour leader should be to do the same.

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Hidari 02.20.20 at 8:43 pm

‘I mean, if people are genuine in their belief that Blair “debasing himself before Murdoch” makes all the difference – independent of actual Labour policy, the moral imperative for any future Labour leader should be to do the same.’

Ladies sand Gentlemen, the modern liberal. Let’s give him all a great big hand.

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J-D 02.21.20 at 9:19 am

Zhou Fang

We should accept the truth that …

We should not accept the truth of those assertions until they have been substantiated.

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Zhou Fang 02.21.20 at 11:31 am

@Hidari:

I think you represent the modern liberal a bit better, which is why I don’t expect Labour (or the Lib Dems) to win again for another generation.

@J-D:

Does the contrary assertions have any better substantiation?

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J-D 02.22.20 at 3:53 am

Does the contrary assertions have any better substantiation?

If you’ve got two contradictory assertions (P and not-P) and neither is substantiated, then what you’ve got is an open question and what you should do is suspend judgement.

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