Liam Byrne: a worrying

and scary Apparatchik

Guido draws attention to yet further evidence of Labour’s headlong dash for the Stasi Heights of British politics where they plan to squat alongside the British National Party (BNP) with this piece of authoritarian nastiness from Liam Byrne, Home Office Minister of State for Borders and Immigration. Talk about a lurch to the right!

We have met the scary Mr. Byrne before in these pages: perhaps sinister is the mot juste when thinking of this Orwellian creep.

Now he opines on the BBC, playing to the BNP claque in the Gods. There has been a plan to make families put up a deposit of £1,000 for visiting relatives to ensure they left the UK on time were unveiled in December 2007.

The problem with this daft idea was that £1000 was always going to be cheap at the price, a mere bagatelle when people routinely pay huge sums, tens of thousands of pounds at a time, to be smuggled illegally into the UK.

So this deeply troubling functionary has come up with another wheeze:

“On the other hand, people said for family weddings and so on you’ve got to sponsor all the people and people are just not going to have that kind of money – so what we want to do is have a new system but punish people if things go wrong.”

Rather than asking from money upfront, Mr Byrne said, the government now wanted to “make sure that we can just hit people and hit people hard if their family member breaks the rules”.

This can only involve punishing X on account of the criminal act of Y, or, as Guido puts it, engaging in collective punishment of a group of people when one of their number steps out of line. He makes the comparison with the activities of the Germans in WW2 engaging in collective punishment of civilians.

‘Collective Punishments’ in the context of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and more particularly the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II)[Article 4], which the UK signed in 1977 and ratified in 1998, are unlawful and amount to serious war crimes. If this proposal were to be carried into law, would they not carry with them the same sort of moral opprobrium?

And how can punishing X for the crime of Y be said to be acceptable?

Do not get me wrong. I am fully in favour of controls on immigration, strong ones designed in part to avoid any further diminution of our culture and national homogeneity. But this can be achieved by means both lawful and moral by any Government with the will and determination to effect meaningful protection of our borders. Reaching for the sort of methods deployed by Germany between 1939-1945 in occupied Europe is not one of them.

As for Mr. Byrne his name too has been bandied about as a potential successor to Mr. Brown. After a Tory Tsunami in 2010 he may be one of the few members of the Government left in Parliament as he has a very safe seat in Birmingham where he has a 9,000 majority over the Lib ‘Dems’. If he must be Labour’s next leader, let it be soon that he might play Labour’s Hague or Iain Duncan Smith to the Tories’ Cameron. He should help keep Labour out of power for a generation.