I am seriously running out of words to describe the arrogance and xenophobia of this government. From today’s Guardian:
Nick Clegg has signed up to a plan drawn up by Theresa May to strip foreign-born terror suspects of British citizenship – a move that would render them stateless – if they are judged to present a threat to national security.
(For non-British readers: Theresa May is the Home Secretary of our current coalition government. Nick Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister, and is supposed to bring a Liberal Democrat perspective to the Conservative-dominated government.)
So the new plan is: if you’re suspected of terrorism, you lose your citizenship. But only, of course, if you’re one of those nasty immigrants. Nice proper British people can’t be expected to have such rules imposed on them!
In other words, if you’re a naturalised foreigner in Britain, you can now be guilty until proven innocent (or, I guess, even after you’re proved innocent, so long as someone’s decided they still suspect you).
The meta-problem here is that every hostile, tiny-minded move by the likes of Theresa May shifts the Overton Window for how much xenophobia is acceptable. And it’s clear that it’s becoming very fashionable. This is the real threat of the racist UKIP party: not that they will gain power, but that the Conservatives, who are supposed to be a mainstream party, and falling over themselves to match UKIP’s hostile rhetoric and policies.
As Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said:
Terror suspects should be charged and tried. First politicians avoided trials for foreign nationals; now they seek the same for their own citizens.
This move is as irresponsible as it is unjust. It would allow British governments to […] punish potential innocent political dissenters without charge or trial. There is the edge of populist madness and then the abyss.
Apparently Liberal Democrat sources close to Nick Clegg said: “it would apply to no more than a handful of people who are deemed to present a serious terror threat.” Yeah, that’s how it always starts. Next thing you know, it’s ten-hour detentions for David Miranda. “Terrorism” legislation always creeps. Always. Every time. Have we learned nothing?
Sure enough, one of the first comments on the Guardian article says “The same should be done for those involved in rape, sexual assault and prostitution of children and for serious rapes”. So this person is suggesting that people suspected of these crimes should lose their citizenship. It’s really beyond parody, isn’t it?
And here’s what hurts most (again from the Guardian article): “Liberal Democrat sources said Clegg, the deputy prime minister, was supporting the proposal on the grounds of national security”. It’s reached the point now where I expect contempt for civil rights from our Conservatives. What I didn’t expect was for the Liberal Democrats to be cheering along. Really, when even the Good Guys are evil, who is left to vote for?
Seriously, people. I know it’s a cliché, but it has to be asked: is this what we fought two world wars for?