With the General Election upon us on Thursday, we’ve never felt worse about not standing in East Renfrewshire – we would never have won, but we feel the absence of a candidate pushing for a £10 minumum wage, renationalisation of the rail service and a ban on fracking and we’re certain we’re not alone.
As you might remember, I contacted the candidates who are standing in East Renfrewshire in the hope of finding out their stance on the issue of the detention and mistreatment of asylum seekers – again, all credit for the text of the letter should go to Duncan Toms, who had already sent it to our candidates before my intervention.
I made the personal decision not to contact our UKIP candidate because I feared his response might be bad for my blood pressure, but if anyone thinks this is unfair and wants to send the letter on to him they may feel free to do so.
First things first: the good folk of East Renfrewshire will not be able to vote for Class War in this election. Having enjoyed Allan Loutit’s opening gambit, in which he declared all of the other candidates to be “scum”, I found myself genuinely disappointed by his absence on the ballot – had he been in the mix, I might have actually made it out to a hustings this year!
Of the candidates who are standing, then:
“Thank you for getting in touch. I completely agree with you that the record of the UK when it comes to the treatment of asylum seekers and immigrants has fallen short of what a decent society should expect. Some progress has been made in the course of this Parliament already to reduce the knock-on effects of detention on the children of those seeking asylum, but there is still more to be done.
“As a liberal I welcome the recommendations of the report, particularly concerning placing a proper limit on the maximum time for which an asylum seeker or immigrant can be detained. Clearly there needs to be an effective system of asylum and immigration to deal with applicants fairly and promptly. Prolonged detention neither particularly helps make the system more efficient, nor does it mitigate the human cost of depriving these people of their liberty. Any reform must go beyond simply implementing time limits on detention and look at how to reduce the need generally for detention of asylum seekers and immigrants.
“A more open immigration policy would also significantly reduce the amount of litigation the courts have to deal with in immigration and asylum cases. This is a problem I am familiar with from my background in public law and human rights. This would free-up resources to allow more of the genuine cases against removal to be heard promptly, while protecting the rights of asylum seekers and wronged immigrants to defend their interests on appeal. If people are spending less time being dragged through the courts, we can start to rely less on detention centres in the first place.
“If elected to represent East Renfrewshire, I would take a particularly keen interest in ensuring that Parliament brings forward legislation to tackle this issue.
“Liberal Democrats have been the consistent voice throughout both the previous government and the current one in ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society have their human rights and their dignity protected.
“All the best, Graeme”
In the hope of providing you with a bit more additional information on the views of your prosepctive candidates, we’ll be back tomorrow with another post on whether they are willing to back Greenpeace’s Frack Free Promise.