Immigration Scandals Continue

The latest British immigration scandal reported in the national press on November 4th and continuing, is due once again to that lethal British combination of soft-headed political correctness (PC), the make-do-and-mend philosophy, and managerial incompetence at the highest levels. 

Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead, is currently Home Secretary, responsible for the United Kingdom Border Agency, along with 5 other major responsibilities, as well as being the minister for the oxymoronic portfolio of “women and equalities”.  Before taking over the Home Office in 2010, May (born 1956) has served as member of parliament since 1997 and in advisory roles in various quangos before that, but has had no experience of running even the smallest organisation (common to practically all the present Cabinet). 

From 2002 until July 2011, the chief executive of the UK Border Agency (previously Director-General of the Immigration Directorate) was Linda Homer, a former career local government officer who was named Public Servant of the Year by the “Women in Public Life” Awards 2010-11.  The citation for this award recalled Homer’s “leadership of the UK’s Border Agency in providing a first class immigration service for the British public”.  In 2006, during Homer’s period as head of the Immigration Directorate, John Reid, Home Secretary in the Blair government, famously pronounced this directorate as “not fit for purpose”.  On the well-known Peter Principle, Homer has now (July 2011) been promoted to be Permanent Secretary (i.e. chief civil servant) at the Department of Transport, despite having no actual knowledge of its subject matter (as with her previous appointment as head of the Immigration Directorate).  The Times of November 8th commented that the 5 years since Reid’s criticism in 2006 has been a “Litany of chaos.” 

On July 19 last, Theresa May apparently agreed to so-called “light-touch” (Level 2) checks on EU nationals at UK immigration entry points.  Had she bothered to check at the immigration desks herself, she would have found that Level 2 is to all intents and purposes no check at all.  Had she been more managerially experienced she would have anticipated that senior executives faced with a 25% cut in budgets would achieve this by simply reducing staff, using the relaxation instruction as cover. 

As immigration officers have told the press, Level 2 has often been implemented at the behest of BAA, a private company operating Heathrow Airport when, in its view, immigration queues were too long.  As one immigration officer commented, “This is the UK Border we protect, but we feel there is no point.  We should just stand there and say thank you for coming” (Times 8th November). 

Who wants long queues?  No-one.  So what to do? 

Here, as with all government by yearning (see post of September 17th), one reality crashes into another.  Cameron yearns to reduce the deficit, so imposes a uniform 25% on all government departmental budgets (with the exception of the two really sacred cows – the payments to the EU budget and the Department of International Development’s payments to the UN and the EU). 

One would have thought that will all his pre-election promises to reduce immigration to “tens of thousands”, Cameron would have concentrated his limited resources on border controls to do just that.  “To govern is to choose” as the Duc de Lévis correctly observed in 1812 in his “Maximes de Politique”.  But no, not in British governments; make-do-and-mend is the order – stretching limited resources until they snap as has clearly happened since July 19th. 

While letting “hundreds of thousands” of foreign visa holders in unchecked, returning British citizens are often subjected to Level 1 checks as reported by a correspondent, Roger Forster, in the Times of 8th November.  Even under “normal” checking, political correctness trumps commonsense.  Thus our fellow Crown subjects from Canada, Australia, New Zealand coming to visit kith and kin in Britain may be subjected to intrusive questioning, while those with absolutely no connection with this country, coming from the EU (which now includes Romania and Bulgaria – soon to be the Balkan state of Croatia) are virtually waved through.  Romania is the country which recently granted citizenship and therefore passports to about one million people living, in a place called Moldova, until recently a particularly backward part of the old Soviet Union; Italy and Spain have in recent years each granted amnesties and therefore state-endorsed travel documents to around 600,000 illegal immigrants, predominantly from Africa. 

What should happen now? 

(1)        Border controls should be removed from Mrs May’s responsibility and, under a new executive head with brains and determination, become directly responsible to the Prime Minister, who will then be able to take personal charge of fulfilling his election promises on immigration.  The overall patriotic objective for the new chief executive should be to gain for Britain a world-wide reputation as the most difficult First World country to get into for those without authentic documentation, not the easiest as it is now. 

(2)        Sufficient staff should be recruited to implement Level 1 checks on all non-British passport holders, whether from the EU or not, with discretion to focus on national groups with above average records of criminality, false marriages, visa overstays, health tourism, and benefit fraud.  Only the Prime Minister will have the authority to require the Treasury to release the funds for this, reducing the International Development budget accordingly. 

(3)        At the same time the British Airports Authority will be required to release more space for more immigration lines at Heathrow. 

(4)        Passport numbers and names of those entering and leaving should be logged on to a memory stick at each Border Control desk with copies sent to centres in London, Manchester and Glasgow every week, so that entry and exit leaving dates can be compared and visa overstayers reported to the police for removal from the country. 

(5)        Colleges should be responsible for checking that overseas students (before they set off) have valid visas for the period of a course, and crucially the funds to pay for it up front.  Shortfalls and irregularities should be reported to the Border Agency.  Phoney colleges should be simply closed down under trading standards regulations and the fact of this circulated to all British Consular authorities issuing visas here and abroad. 

(6)        There is no need to wait for the hugely costly (£billion), failed and now cancelled computer project instigated on Lin Homer’s watch, to be replaced by another giant software contractor.  Quite small British contractors can do the job for a few million pounds, and in any case a new system, managed by staff in the UK, can be, if necessary, commissioned in stages, starting at the key pressure points, Heathrow and Calais.

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One Response to “Immigration Scandals Continue”

  1. Ageing Albion says:

    As is well known, though perhaps not well enough known, the last government wanted to make Britain “truly diverse” and saw immigration as a quick way of making this happen (it would have happened anyway, over a much longer term, because of the respective birth rates of the indigenous population and the existing immigrant communities). We know this because of the infamous article by Andrew Neather, in the London Evening Standard on 23rd October 2009.

    By opening Britain’s borders three happy results would ensue for the last government:

    1. The incompetent (unfit for purpose) border agency could not be mended, but with mass immigration the goal, it would not need to be, thus sparing anyone the trouble.

    2. Immigrant communities are well known to vote overwhelmingly for Labour, thus preserving every modern politician’s ultimate goal: his job.

    3. The “truly diverse” society would be achieved much faster.

    The only problem was that the traditional Labour electorate would not accept this, since they were the ones forced to compete for jobs, housing and education, and might also object to their children attending schools in which they were a tiny minority. These concerns, if you read the original article, didn’t trouble Mr Neather, since he rejoiced in the cheap labour he could hire, rubbished any alternative (“BNP au pair, anyone?” he laughed) and said how interesting his daughter’s (evidently middle class) school was, since there were lots of children of educated professionals from around the world there. The fact that the vast majority of Labour (or any other) voters could never afford cheap labour, but had to compete with it for their own jobs, either didn’t occur to him or didn’t bother him.

    Elsewhere on this site you have called for a five year halt on all immigration from outside the EU. This would be politically impossible, as debate on the subject of immigration is now largely taboo on the ground of racism, however unfair or unreasonable that might be. It would also not prevent the continuing exodus of indigenous English from the country, which is again something ignored by the media, chattering classes and politicians (eg if 1 million English middle class leave in a year and 1.1 million immigrants arrive from poor countries in Africa and Asia politicians will announce that “net immigration is down to 100,000” which is true, but fails to predict the very substantial change to the country that will take place. The country might be better or worse in any number of respects with that demographic alteration, depending on one’s point of view, but it cannot be the same.

    There is accordingly no getting around the fact that Britain is destined to become truly diverse as anxiously desired by Mr Neather and his former masters.

    Your efforts would therefore be better aimed at how race relations might be improved in this country, and how ethnic minorities might better be integrated so as to avoid the ever increasing ghetto makeup of British cities, which leads to increased tensions and evident disparities.

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