17 June 2010

Urging Action on RMJ Administration

Here's the first letter I've sent to my new MP, Nicola Blackwood, regarding the legal aid charity Refugee and Migrant Justice going into administration. Please read my letter about this case and consider sending a similar letter to your MP using the fab Write To Them website. It is unacceptable to allow destitute people who are being subjected to legal action to go without legal assistance.

Dear Nicola Blackwood,

I am deeply concerned to hear news about the charity Refugee and
Migrant Justice entering administration due to bureaucratic rules that
resulted in non-payment of Legal Aid by the Legal Services Commission.

Refugee and Migrant Justice provides invaluable legal services to
asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants with the greatest needs.
This crucial service is now severely under threat.

If RMJ has to close, I understand this will lead to more than 10,000
people, including 900 children and victims of trafficking, torture and
armed conflict, being left without legal representation. This could
cause chaos in the asylum system. Lives will be put at risk and there
are likely to be many more miscarriages of justice, which are already
far too common.

With that in mind I am asking you to press the Department of Justice to
do all it can to rectify this situation and ensure that some of the
most destitute people in our country have access to legal assistance.

I hope you will take this matter seriously and I look forward to
hearing of your immediate actions.

Yours sincerely,
Duncan Stott

I'd like to apologise to Nicola for not mentioning that I intended on publishing the letter on my blog. With hindsight, it would have been polite to do this. I hope she will be happy for me to publish her response.

UPDATE: A demonstration is being organised against the likely closure of RMJ outside the Ministry of Justice at 4pm on Friday if you can make it.

UPDATE 2: Show your support by joining this Facebook group.

15 June 2010

34th Softest Touch

The United Kingdom is in 34th place in the league of refugees taken in by a country as a ratio of its population.

The latest UN statistics show that we have 438 refugees per 100,000 inhabitants. This puts us behind Jordan, Syria, Montenegro, Congo, Chad, Malta, Iran, Djibouti, Lebanon, Pakistan, Kenya, Sweden, Serbia, Ecuador, Mauritania, Norway, Yemen, Germany, Venezuela, Luxembourg, Central African Republic, Switzerland, Gabon, Gambia, Rwanda, Cameroon, Canada, Guinea-Bissau, Panama, Austria, Netherlands, Sudan and Zambia.

The names in bold in the above list are other developed countries with a UN Human Development Index score greater than 0.9. Many of the other countries in this list are much nearer to the major sources of human displacement, and are therefore always going to take more refugees than other countries. But there is no reason why the UK shouldn't be beating many of the names in bold. The new coalition government should be aiming to get the UK towards the top of this list. It should be a source of immense national pride to live in a country that shows genuine compassion towards its fellow man; way more than some hollow gold trophy earned by a few kickball players.

14 June 2010

Beautiful Power

Picture 1:
Ugh! What ugliness! A revolting blot on our British landscape. Tear them down immediately.

Picture 2:
Never before have I seen such elegance! From the proudly erect light water reactor to graceful curves of the cooling towers, the pleasure of such majestic architecture should be experienced throughout the land.

Uh huh.

10 June 2010

Integrate You Bastards

Here's a quick Home Office video explaining yet another layer of bureaucracy that is being added to visa applications:

The government is coercively insisting that people are an integrated member of society, and that English is the only language that will enable someone to integrate.

There are plenty of other societies that muddle along just fine with multiple languages. Britain still has a few itself. When will the government start coercing Welsh to start speaking English?

But why stop at language? There's lots more the government could do to promote integration. Religion for a start. Those bloody immigrants most likely hit by this rule are likely to be from the Indian subcontinent, and therefore unlikely to be Christian - the national faith. So enforce compulsory church attendance for all who wish to enter. We do it for our state schools, so why not for our borders too? It'll mean less of those unsightly minarets, and the end of terrorism, because Christians are never terrorists.

Or perhaps the state should insist on patriotic tattoos to emblazoned across the torso. A small cartoon British bulldog would suffice, but extra points for an enormous dewy-eyed Winston Churchill waving the Union Flag on top of an implanted speaker that plays a monophonic rendition of "Land Of Hope And Glory" when firmly pressed.

Only for immigrants though. If you fluked being born here, that's British enough. Otherwise that would start affecting me, and that's just not on.

You may have spotted a tiny bit of exaggeration above. But the crux of it is this: if someone can't speak English, that's not your problem. You might not like hearing a foreign language for the three seconds when you and an immigrant share the same bit of pavement, but that's just tough. Lump it or chill out.

I'll leave you with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I can't see how this new rule will fit with this:

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.