Blogs by Don Flynn
Home Secretary Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party conference yesterday has been condemned even in the pages of the truest and bluest of Tory journals.
Her claim that there is no economic benefit to the UK from immigration was picked apart by James Kirkup, the executive editor of the Daily Telegraph, who described it as an “awful, ugly, misleading, cynical and irresponsible speech”.
Labour’s annual conference will be remembered as the time when Jeremy Corbyn, the surprise victor in the election for party leader, made his debut as the central figure of the party. Popular as he is amongst the quarter of a million people who joined Labour after its general election defeat in May the fact is that Mr Corbyn is deeply unpopular amongst the old guard which still regards itself as representing the real mainstream of centre left politics.
The political season usually feels like it is starting a fresh round about this time of the year, as politicians return to Westminster and political parties stage their conferences around the country.
Working around all the issues which have a bearing on the rights of migrants at this point in time has something of the feel of a roller-coaster ride.
The low points are invariably connected to government announcements. In recent weeks these have included the prospect of a new immigration bill intended to push forward with the ‘hostile environment’ which newcomers are expected to endure; the Home Office’s disappointing response to the recent Parliamentary report on detention; and, perhaps felt most acutely in terms of its inadequacy, is the government’s reaction to calls to welcome more refugees from the crisis regions of the Mediterranean and southern and central Europe, castigated as ‘derisory’ and a ‘fig-leaf to cover its nakedness’ by Paddy Ashdown, one of its harshest but most perceptive critics on this issue.
The Prime Minister’s statement on the refugee crisis made in Parliament yesterday was initially received as evidence of an important softening of the hitherto hardline the government has taken on the issue, but has subsequently unravelled as commentators have scrutinised more closely what has really been put on offer.
After talking about the amount of aid the UK has provided for the relief on refugees who are trapped in the immediate vicinity of the Middle East conflict area, and the role played by the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean rescue mission, Mr Cameron went on to say: