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Asylum seekers from Zimbabwe

When the Daily Mail starts trumpeting the cause of failed asylum seekers, it’s clear that something is seriously wrong. The issue at hand is the proposed deportation of a hundred failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, back to Robert Mugabe’s deplorable regime, where they will almost certainly be presumed to be British spies. They have been on hunger strike now for six days, in protest against their deportation. The Mail is against their deportation (quote from today’s Wrap):

Mail readers who are accustomed to the paper’s demands for a crackdown on asylum seekers may have to pinch themselves today. “FOR PITY’S SAKE LET THEM STAY,” splashes the paper. “How, in all conscience, can the Home Office deport more than 100 Zimbabweans to face torture at the hands of Mugabe’s evil regime?”

Three Zimbabweans involved in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change describe the torture they suffered under President Mugabe’s regime. The Mail wants to know why they are not allowed to remain in Britain while “hundreds of thousands of other would-be refugees” whose asylum applications have been refused are allowed to stay.

The difficulty here is that the asylum seekers are unable to prove that they personally are at risk of persecution. The political difficulty is that one can’t let one set of asylum seekers that don’t meet the necessary criteria stay, whilst deporting others in similar situations. Except, there have been special rules on Zimbabwe for a number of years now, preventing the deportation of failed asylum seekers. Up until the last few days, I wasn’t aware that this rule had been removed, and I can’t begin to understand why it has been changed: The situation in Zimbabwe is clearly not improving, so why remove the protection these people have been offered for so long?

Regular readers will know that I’m incredibly cynical, but is it going too far to question whether this rule was removed in order to improve the figures on deportation of failed asylum seekers in the run-up to a General Election? I have looked around quite a bit, and can’t find any other reason for the decision. But the Prime Minister’s press conference is just beginning – let’s hope that someone asks the pertinent question, and then we might know.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

Richard Whiteley has died

Richard Whiteley, the presenter of Channel 4’s Countdown, has died aged 61, Channel 4 have announced. I have watched Countdown for many years, and no-one who watches regularly can have failed to warm to the presenter’s unique style and sense of humour.

There’s a full obituary over on the BBC website.

Requiescat in pace

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

UNISON rejects ID cards

The public sector workers’ union, UNISON, has rejected the very idea of ID cards, and suggests that their members may even refuse to implement it. And the LSE are about to announce that, by their calculations, the estimates of how much the scheme will cost are far too low. It’s all less than good news for the government, who seem intent on forcing through the costly (and largely useless) legislation. The current situation is put most eliquently by Krishnan in today’s Snowmail:

Tonight this is where we are: the government does not know how much ID cards will cost, nor do they know how much it will save in reduced fraud, nor do they think it will prevent terrorist attack. But they want everyone to think ID cards are a good idea. I am left wondering if ID cards are the answer what is the question?

I was going to use this opportunity to make a big post explaining why I think ID cards are a bad idea. But, other than the fact the cost has now almost tripled, my objections are largely the same as they were more than a year ago. So you may as well just read that. And while you’re reading it, perhaps you can come up with the reason I called it ‘ID cards and the constitution, when it doesn’t even mention the latter. Because I’ve no idea.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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