Woolas: ‘I live ‘ere’

Phil ‘Let’s see the rape scars, love’ Woolas has been tackling a major problem. He doesn’t want the country to accept refugees… yet the Geneva Convention imposes a duty to take in anyone fleeing persecution.

The answer? Tear up the convention.

Labour is to call for a revision of the international convention on refugees, arguing that it predates mass migration and leads to abuse of the asylum system.

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said he wanted to start a debate about the 58-year-old convention which enshrines individuals’ rights to asylum from state persecution. His proposals mirror those of the French president, Nicholas Sarkozy.

Woolas said: ‘The Geneva convention was intended to protect individual people from persecution. A significant number of people who claim asylum are doing so for broadly economic reasons. So I think it is right we look at the framework, as indeed other European countries are doing.’

Like the word ‘reform’, the term ‘revision’ generally means ‘privatise’ or ‘abolish’ in the language of the political class. Notice too that we’re back to the Michael Howard formulation: genuine refugees are okay but ‘economic migrants’ are not. Because we can’t have people coming here, getting jobs, starting businesses, creating wealth… heaven forbid.

I’ve quoted endlessly the phrase ‘Socialism for the rich, free enterprise for the poor’. Another appropriate line would be ‘Global freedom for capital, global protectionism for labour’.

Woolas, in his brave, outspoken manner, is ‘reviving a debate launched by Jack Straw’ who as Home Secretary ‘proposed people should apply for asylum from within the countries they were fleeing or from neighbouring states.’

Fuck knows why that particular lunacy should be disinterred. It was pointed out at the time that people fleeing Saddam’s Iraq or Mugabe’s Zimbabwe weren’t likely to receive co-operation from the authorities. The fascist police are not going to say: ‘Oh, you’re claiming asylum in Europe? Fantastic, here’s all your documentation, we’ve sorted your flights and keep on rocking in the free world.’ The city walls are as much to keep the subjects inside as to keep the invaders out. As Nick Cohen said at the time: ‘New Labour would have made Anne Frank into an illegal immigrant.’

For some reason the Guardian has bought into Woolas’s ‘brave’ and ‘outspoken’ image, describing him as if he were some kind of maverick cop who doesn’t play by the rules but who – goddamnit – gets results. Look at this piece of sycophancy.

Since becoming immigration minister Woolas has not been afraid to take controversial positions, often using a tougher rhetoric than his predecessor, Liam Byrne. He argues it is dangerous for mainstream politicians to shy away from discussing migration and asylum.

Which is why politicians have talked about little else since the late 1950s.

We are also apparently going to see a return to the ‘safe list’ drawn up by the last Tory administration. This is basically a list of countries deemed ‘safe’ from which we will not accept applications. There have been already been problems with refugees being sent back to Iraq and Afghanistan because the removal of their respective dictatorships has made these countries ‘safer’ – but even liberal interventionists like me recognise that these countries are far from safe for many Afghans and Iraqis.

Still, there is some good news:

Woolas stressed he was not proposing that the UK should not protect people from persecution but argued that the system needed to protect a nation from economic migrants. The EU has been working on a system designed to prevent so-called asylum shopping, where a failed claim in one country is followed by a bid in another. Britain fears the policy would mean asylum seekers could not be held in detention centres, something Woolas has said would only happen over his dead body.

As Homer Simpson might say: I like those odds.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: