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Showing posts with label united kingdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label united kingdom. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Harley Miller isn’t the only immigrant being deported

Photo by David McKelvey

There has been a certain furore on the internet over the deportation of a particular well-acclaimed Australian woman. 

With two masters degrees and her considerable input into our NHS system, it is understandable that people would get angry over the Border Agency’s demand for her to pack her bags and leave. Shared internationally via Facebook, her experience is rightly identified as an abomination, but why is it that this outcry is only deserving of a middle-class professional white woman?

There’s no denying that the situation that Harley Miller is facing is a horrible one to be put in: to suddenly receive a letter denying your application to stay in the UK after 9 years, to lose your job and to be told that you must leave within 28 days. However, the truth is that this happens to people on a far worse scale more often than we hear about it. Immigrants from across the world look to the UK for a better way of life, away from discrimination, from tyrannies and from war zones. Away from a failing economy, a tiny job market and poor standards of living. Put yourself in their shoes and I can guarantee you would want better than that.

The irony about those who oppose immigration is the complete contradiction they pose in their rhetoric. Individuals should strive towards personal success, using all the resources available to them to gain a better standard of life, say the Conservatives. The only thing holding people back is themselves, say the Conservatives. It’s their own fault that they’re living in impoverished conditions, say the Conservatives. Ignoring the fact that this is what most people do anyway, it appears that these same aspirations must not apply to immigrants. Most immigrants will come to the UK for a better standard of life, and who can blame them? Unfortunately for them, their better way of life involves constant xenophobia, fear of deportation and the additional role as a scapegoat. It’s a hard price to pay for a more comfortable life.

Yet, the media don’t write about these people being deported, and, thus, neither do the public hear about them. So when we get up-in-arms about Harley Miller’s deportation, step back and think of these poor immigrants who have are facing constant harassment and the fearful prospects that our international friends face daily.

Immigrants aren’t our enemies. Immigrants aren’t even something we should ‘tolerate’. Immigrants are human beings whom we should embrace. They bring multiculturalism to our country, they teach us of their culture, they bring us some new flavour to our lives. They provide us friends at university and at work, they provide business and they contribute to the tax system. Overall, immigrants provide more benefits to the UK than what they get back, and the papers (and the British as a result) don’t give them the credit or respect that they deserve. Regardless of where these people are from, they give the UK something we would never want to lose.

Luckily for Harley Miller, she’ll return to Australia with her two masters degrees and nine-years of medical experience in the NHS behind her. She’ll return to a tolerant and accepting country with no fear of persecution. The money she’ll earn from the sale of her house in the UK will allow her to instantly buy a new one in Australia. It’s a shame that’s not the case for most deported immigrants.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Remembering Thatcher

In the wake of Margaret Thatcher’s death, euphoria appears to be sweeping over the nation, with calls to rename the August Bank Holiday ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’ and to replace the five pound note’s Elizabeth Fry with Maggie. However, this is not as wide-spread a demand as it would appear to be; the demand is being exemplified by the media and the governing Tory party. In a bid to continue the celebration of the late Prime Minister, Tories are aiming to present the controversial leader on an everyday basis. But surely there are better and more politically neutral people who can take these places, if they do indeed need taking?

Margaret Thatcher’s death in April provided a fresh chance on the debate on her legacy – whichever side of the spectrum you swing, it is difficult to deny that she changed the scene of the UK forever – but the celebrations of this legacy have evolved into an unprecedented demand for everlasting jubilation. Tory MP for Wellingborough, Peter Bone, wants the country to celebrate the late August Bank Holiday as Margaret Thatcher day as early as next year, with the second reading of the Private Member’s Bill (aptly named ‘Margaret Thatcher Day Bill’) taking place today. At present, there are no days specially named after any politicians, let alone Prime Ministers, so it seems strange to allow the first one to be named after someone so controversial, who continues to provoke such strong debate nearly 35 years since she first took power. After all, surely there have been better candidates, solely within the Prime Minister category, for such an honour. Take, for example, Clement Attlee, the mid-20th century Labour Prime Minister who oversaw the creation of the NHS and the world’s most extensive welfare state. This man’s work improved (and continues to do so) the life of millions, significant reducing the deaths of diphtheria, pneumonia and tuberculosis within the working class very quickly, as well as providing well-paid work to consultants. Whatever your views on the current NHS, this legacy continues to live on and improve the lives of millions, and is undeniably a major benefit to the UK.

Furthermore, although not a direct decision of the Palace of Westminster but the Bank of England, there is a view to remove Elizabeth Fry from the five pound note and replace her with the Conservative Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. However, as the only female (excepting Her Majesty) remaining on UK currency, there is a large campaign to increase the number of women remembered on our banknotes. Again, we are presented with the proposals to replace Elizabeth Fry with dear old Maggie. There are most certainly other women we can be proud of and owe more of today’s rights and luxuries too. We have Florence Nightingale, the social reformer and founder of modern nursing, Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the suffragette movement, and Emily Davison, the suffragette who died fighting for women’s rights to vote, who are all deserving of a celebration of their contributions to Britain’s rights and freedoms. They draw respect and inspire many across the political spectrum and across the world that Thatcher does not share; they lived their lives to further the women’s cause in a way that Thatcher denounced; and, they formed a pillar of society alike to those that Thatcher wished to destroy.

Despite her undeniable changes to the country, Thatcher is far less deserving of the privileges currently being discussed to be given posthumously than others who lived before her. As a controversial character, she inspires both joy and hatred in citizens across the country and, indeed, world. There are most definitely other more unifying and celebratory historical figures who are worthy of the luxuries that are being granted to our former Prime Minister, whom we should ensure we consider.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Illiberal Reaction of the US Government to Snowden

 Edward Snowden Protest
Image by Michael Fleshman

The revelations surrounding the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States and the Global Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) in the United Kingdom show the disturbing penetration into people’s private lives that two of the “most liberal” Governments claim the authority for. It’s been nearly three weeks since The Guardian published the information that they had received from ex-CIA employee, Edward Snowden, much in the same way as information previously provided by WikiLeaks. This case continues to demonstrate the immense difficulties and dangers presented to those few whistle-blowers.

Positively, in this case, Snowden was well aware of the consequences of his actions and prepared his line of escape, flying to Hong Kong and taking temporary refuge there. Yet, it is a dismal state of affairs that a man should seek political asylum from such a “liberal” nation for something that amounts to accountability of a tax-paid scheme. The mass surveillance programs used by the NSA were not voted for by the US citizenship and do not solely pervade the home country, but also reaches out across the world in their attempts to spy on people and their governments. Now, I’m not saying that the US Government is the worst for invading privacy, but the secret nature of these operations make them ten times worse. At least in the countries that are renowned for their lack of privacy, they are renowned for it; you know what you’re getting there. Within the US, it was a different story; it was another case of the US deciding that liberty needed to be sacrificed in the name of security, without consulting their citizens on the issue.

Snowden faces three charges from the US Government: theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information, and wilful communication of classified intelligence with an unauthorised person. It is easy to take issue with each of these charges. Firstly, the US Government works for US citizens, is paid for by US citizens and is elected by US citizens, so everything it creates and receives should surely be the property of US citizens. Surely the charge here then is synonymous with “theft of public property” or “theft of civilian property”. But, Snowden is a US civilian, and he can’t steal from himself and he’s not inhibiting others’ access to it – in fact, he’s making it more accessible – so can this charge be applied. I’d argue not, but this is most certainly not a view that the US Government or, perhaps, the courts will agree on. The other two charges follow on from this point; the Government were not authorised to intrude on people’s lives by those who have the authorisation – the public – so how was Snowden supposed to get authorisation from the public to communicate the Government’s secret work? Now, you may disagree with the fact that this information and operation does indeed belong to the US citizens but there remains a case for Government accountability and a warrant for the public to know what their Government is doing in their name.

The continued reaction by the US Government only serves to deepen the frustration and anger with the administration. In their desperation to shut Snowden’s mouth, gag him and take him away to Guantanamo Bay, they are making outlandish demands on the international community; not to harbour him, or to let him travel, unless it is back to the US. With joy, many countries have ignored this command from the self-proclaimed President of the World, as Hong Kong, Russia, Ecuador and Cuba rally behind Snowden. The US’ hope that they could get away with unilaterally enforcing security in the world has failed. They are deepening the cut by continuing their hostility, secrets and heavy-handedness.

Let us join in with the international solidarity for Edward Snowden who has performed an incredible and brave action that he should most certainly not be persecuted for.