COMPARING THE MANIFESTOS – Humanity is for Refugees and Asylum Seekers too
We are proud that the Liberal Democrat manifesto has a full section on our views, values and concrete proposals for how we treat Refugees and Asylum Seekers. There is no condensing it, so no apologies if it takes time to read – we have a lot to say! Here it is, word for word:
Dignity for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
We must do all we can to protect people forced to flee their homes to escape war and persecution. The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but Labour and Conservative governments have introduced a harsh system that fails to respect people’s dignity. Thousands of asylum seekers are forced to wait many months for a decision, unable to work, rent a home or support their families.
Too many people are wrongly denied asylum, with 40 per cent of refusals overturned on appeal. Liberal Democrats are the only party who can make the system work fairly for seekers of sanctuary.
- Give asylum seekers the right to work three months after they have applied, enabling them to work in any role so that they can support themselves, integrate into their communities and contribute through taxation.
- Provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK by resettling 10,000 vulnerable refugees each year and a further 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe over the next ten years, and expanding family reunion rights.
- Fund community-sponsorship projects for refugees, and reward community groups who develop innovative and successful ways of promoting social cohesion.
- Offer asylum to people fleeing the risk of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identification, end the culture of disbelief for LGBT+ asylum seekers and never refuse an LGBT+ applicant on the basis that they could be discreet.
- Move asylum policymaking from the Home Office to the Department for International Development and establish a dedicated unit to improve the speed and quality of decision-making.
- Provide free basic English lessons to refugees and asylum seekers and scrap the 16 hours-per-week rule with respect to financial support for those unable to work due to insufficient English.
- Provide public health services, including maternity services, to people from the moment they arrive in the UK.
- Increase the ‘move-on period’ for refugees from 28 days to 60 days.
These manifesto commitments are backed up by well thought out and much more detailed commitments. For more information you can see the full policy document https://www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-18-policy-paper-131, and a policy motion agreed at Liberal Democrat party conference http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/09/Prosperity-and-Dignity-in-Migration-final-form-in-word.pdf.
There are detailed briefing documents taken from this, and previous policies available on our website here http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/category/documents
In contrast the Labour and Tory manifestos have little to say, and very little detail at that. Vague mentions of issues means that they cannot be held to account on progress on implementing them, if they were to be elected to form the next Government.
Labour say they will “end the deportation of family members of people entitled to be here and end the minimum income requirements which separate families”. (Liberal Democrats say we will expand family reunion rights, and so cover far more families).
Labour say that this government has failed its international legal obligations to refugees and to allow people to exercise their rights to seek asylum. A Labour government will uphold those rights and meet those obligations. Liberal Democrats say that it would be better if Labour actually proposed concrete policies rather than just criticise.
Labour say that they will work with others to resume rescue missions in the Mediterranean, co-operate with the French authorities to put an end to the horrific camps, and establish safe and legal routes for asylum seekers. (We are also specific in how the safe routes will work.)
Labour say that once here, refugees will have the right to work, access to public services and will be treated humanely by government at all levels. (Liberal Democrats will give the right to work, after 3 months, for those who have applied for asylum. Refugees already have the right to work!)
Labour say they will guarantee universal healthcare by ensuring women’s and children’s health services are comprehensive, by protecting the rights of EU workers, other migrants and refugees and by ensuring all our services are made accessible to BAME, LGBT+ and disabled patients. (Liberal Democrats are specific about giving health services to people from the minute they arrive in the UK.)
Tories say they “will continue to grant asylum and support to refugees fleeing persecution, with the ultimate aim of helping them to return home if it is safe to do so.” We say that they omit to mention that the obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention mean that the Government must grant support to those fleeing persecution. The ‘ultimate aim’ is not to return people as quickly as possible, but to ensure that people have the right and ability to make their claim and have it assessed fairly, justly, and accurately.
Tories say “We will boost English language teaching to empower existing migrants and help promote integration into society”. Liberal Democrats would welcome this if it were more specific and meant that not only were the restrictive rules that the Tories have introduced rescinded, but that more funding was available.
Tories say they will have “a memorial recognising the contribution of the Windrush Generation in a prominent site in London”. Liberal Democrats offer radical reforms to the asylum system with a view to enhancing protection. The Tories’ single reference to asylum emphasizes their desire to see even those who would be granted asylum leave rather than integrate and be offered the option to naturalise should they so wish.