The politics of amnesties
The Lib Dem policy on 'an earned route to citizenship' , amnesty for people who came to the UK illegally, but have been here for at least ten years, is a sensible one. It is also a very brave one. It will be an issue which the Tories in Lib Dem/Tory marginal seats will certainly highlight and give great prominence to.
Labour's already run one campaign - in Hodge Hill -on the issue of 'Lib Dems wanting to give handouts to failed asylum-seekers' (and promoted Liam Byrne to be Immigration Minister). That was a contemptible campaign, and Labour candidates should resist the urge to attack the Lib Dems on this issue to try to get a short term boost from people who don't like asylum seekers. There are, after all, plenty of other issues which divide Labour and the Lib Dems to campaign on.
If you need further persuading, just imagine what MigrationWatch will say about the Lib Dem plans. There is a rule that any time you find yourself on the same side of an argument as MigrationWatch, there's something badly wrong.
Or as Brian Reade put it:
'[When the number of people leaving the UK was announced] MigrationWatch UK (think Crimewatch UK photofits but scarier) stayed silent.
Not the slightest tap of a jack-boot could be heard.
Fast forward to this week and unsubstantiated claims in our most hysterical newspaper that Britain is about to be invaded by thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies.
"It is unacceptable that thousands of gypsies should come here to live off the welfare state," boomed MigrationWatch's Sir Andrew Green, quicker than you can say Final Solution.
Doesn't it prove that this right-wing, rag-bag lobby should change its name from MigrationWatch to ImmigrationWatch - and admit they are the Ku Klux Klan without the pointy hats?'
Do we really want to end up alongside the Tories and MigrationWatch, and against people who have spent at least a decade contributing to our society?