The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines is on record as claiming that “The lying in politics is on an industrial scale”, although what he is less ready to tell is that it is him, his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, and his pals in the Tory Party who do most of it. And proving Staines right, but in all the wrong ways, has been Michael “Oiky” Gove, the Minister for Murdoch.
Gove went on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning and declared “We're the most immigration-friendly country in the EU”. Wait, what? And there was more: spewing out his stream of verbiage unchallenged, “Oiky” went on to claim that this country had “the most liberal attitude towards non-EU immigration in the EU”.
Sadly, there was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. Only two years ago in the run-up to the EU referendum, the Elmer Fudd of the Tory Party was scaremongering, claiming “a population the size of Scotland” could arrive from Turkey and other potential new EU countries by 2030.
That does not fall into the category called “liberal”. Nor does having a Prime Minister who was, as Nesrine Malik has observed, “in her six years as home secretary … was the high priestess of hostile environments for immigrants”. Nor does having a Home Office which included in its 2017 annual report “In January 2016, we broadened our engagement activity in priority countries to maximise returns of all nationals in the UK illegally”.
That is the turning of the Home Office into some kind of dystopian machine for hunting down and deporting human beings and then blithely reporting the exercise as some kind of performance metric for which they should be thrown a biscuit. In clear expectation that many would be deported to Jamaica, and yet be unfamiliar with the country, the Home Office guidebook has even counselled “try to be Jamaican - use local accents and dialect (overseas accents can attract unwanted attention)”.
Could it get worse? As if you need to ask. The claim of “liberal” attitudes to immigration falls as soon as the UK is compared to other EU and EEA countries on numbers of refugees accepted per million of population. We are behind not just Germany, Austria and Sweden, but Belgium, Denmark, Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
And worse: Gove is defending a régime introduced by a Home Secretary - guess who - who stood up in the Commons and said “we can deport first and hear appeals later”. On top of all that, Lord Kerslake, former head of the Civil Service, told BBC Newsnight that Theresa May’s immigration reform “was highly contested and there were some who saw it, I shan't name them, as almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the way it's working”.
There is stuff all “liberal” about that. It is authoritarian, over-zealous, uncaring, inhumane, and worst of all, it is effectively allowing the right-wing press to dictate Government policy.
Michael Gove should head for the nearest extinguisher. Because his pants are on fire.