Amol Rajan: Cruelty and cowardice replace common sense

FreeView from the editors at i

Share

At the Houses of Parliament yesterday, a demonstration was held by a charity called the Migrants' Rights Network in protest at changes to family migration rules. The rules came into effect yesterday, but there is a 40-day window in which they can be challenged.

The rules are partly a consequence of David Cameron's cruel, opportunistic and unrealisable pledge before the last general election to bring net migration into the UK down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. They target spouses who settle in our country. 

Among the measures is an expansion of the probationary period from two to five years, during which time the migrant would be on a spousal visa with no recourse to public funds and, if unable to work, dependent on their spouse. At the end of this period spouses can apply for permanent settlement only after passing the "Life in the UK" citizenship test and a language test. The applicant will have no access to publically funded language courses to prepare.

Finally, nobody earning less than £18,600 annually will be allowed to bring spouses to Britain in the first place. That rises by £2,400 a year for each child a couple is mischievous enough to have.

Taken as a whole, these changes represent a shameless attack on the poorest people in our society, a gutless retreat in the face of lies and propaganda from the right-wing press, and a further criminalisation of the pursuit of happiness by those who happen to be born in countries less wealthy than ours.

In this, it is in keeping with the general tenor of what passes for a debate on immigration in our country. It is true that Labour underestimated the scale of modern migration; that the planning for the arrival of so many migrants was pitiful; that the flip-side of any person's civic right is another person's civic duty, so that just as we campaign for migrant rights we must engender migrant duties; and that state-multiculturalism can undermine social bonds. But migrants are not the thieving villains of Daily Mail caricature. They are generally hard-working, keen to learn and contribute,. 

The sums raised by these proposed measures would hardly pay for lunch in the City. Yet the message sent by them is clear. A country which relies ever more heavily on its immigrant population wants to substitute cruelty and cowardice where compassion and common sense once prevailed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
 

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral