Saturday, October 15, 2005
Blair Vs World
The decision yesterday by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal not to return a Zimbabwean man to Zimbabwe for fear of facing reprisal once he got there was almost certainly the right decision. It seems entirely incompatible to, one the one hand, say that it is safe to deport asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe whilst, on the other hand, decrying the truly awful state that the country is in.
That's about as much as I'll talk about that though, because now I think there's a bigger question facing us. What I want to know is, who, outside of Blair and his supporters, actually supports the moves currently being taken by the Labour government?
What I'm saying is that it seemed clear from the start of the case over deportation to Zimbabwe that the government was in the wrong, yet they've stuck with it anyway. After the 7th of July attacks, no-one except the government and the police saw the need to introduce new laws that were previously covered by old laws anyway. Detention without trial for up to 90 days is opposed by both the opposition, the Lib Dems, and members of the Labour Party itself, not to mention all the civil liberties groups. ID cards too are opposed by both other major political parties. Where exactly is Blair going with this agenda, and why is he still so keen to pursue it with so much opposition?
Probably the most popular response is the need for Blair to be seen to be doing something about the most pressing problems facing the country; terrorism, asylum, national security. All of the these measures do, to some degree, offer protection in some way. Thing is though, for example after the London bombings, the police did incredibly well in tracking down those responsible in a very short space of time without any of these new measures.. Clearly the police were doing something, and something far more tangible than creating new laws to appease the electorate. Seemingly, each and every one of the schemes that Blair is currently pushing is opposed because it offers an overblown solution to a problem which is actually quite a bit easier to solve. Why does it feel that everyone but Blair can already see this?
It seems pretty clear to me that what people actually want is results, not white elephants or singled-out scapegoats to make everybody feel better. We shouldn't be faffing about with pointless new laws, we should be giving more funding to the police, we shouldn't be introducing ID cards, we should be hiring more police officers in the first place. And we definitely shouldn't be condemning people to torture or death by returning them to their unsafe place of origin just because 'we need to be doing something' about asylum.
Then again, perhaps bread and circuses really is the way to deflect real criticism. If so, let's look forward to another Labour government in 4 years time...