Editorial: David Cameron should beware this war on ‘soft’ judges

The Prime Minister must be watching Theresa May's manoeuvres with mixed feelings

Share
Related Topics

Second only to promising to slash immigration, pledges to bang up then rapidly deport foreign criminals – preferably in the teeth of opposition from woolly-minded liberals – offer a sure path to the hearts of the Tory faithful.

No surprise then that, as Tory poll ratings remain in the doldrums, the Home Secretary should now flag up her determination to slay the dragon of wishy-washy judges who, she says, “frustrate government policy and prevent the deportation of criminals”, and who she intends to spear with “explicit parliamentary legislation”.

What form this legislation will take, no one knows. One wonders if Theresa May herself knows. With more passion than substance she says only that, through what sounds like the blunt instrument of the law, she will stop judges from interpreting Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights – which grants foreigners rights to remain in the UK on the basis of a “right to a family life” – in the same lenient fashion that they apparently have been doing. The Home Office has also declined to provide hard information, beyond saying that all should become clear in the Queen’s Speech in May, which gives the Home Secretary a few months to work out how she intends to flesh this one out. Ms May’s supporters maintain she has consistently made it clear that she intends to take a more robust approach than her predecessors in sending foreign criminals back where they came from. While she makes a lot of noise about this subject, she doesn’t have much form, however, as shown by the fiasco last spring over the deportation of Abu Qatada. Unable to resist the temptation to trumpet in advance the deportation of the Islamist preacher, before she had, in fact, achieved anything, she gave him time to lodge a last-minute appeal against his return to Jordan for trial. He is still here, although Ms May no longer seems interested in giving the public regular updates of her handling of the case.

A wise minister would have kept quiet about such a sensitive, fought-over matter, at least until Mr Qatada had touched down in Amman. The problem with Ms May is that she always seems to be trying to run a key government department and an unofficial election campaign at the same time. The Qatada debacle is not an isolated example of her propensity to play politics in a slippery fashion with loaded subjects.

The minister who regularly lays into Labour for having let the immigration door swing wide open, unguarded, was the same minister who cut back on border controls in an ill-fated pilot scheme, as well as slashing staffing levels in the UK Border Agency, only to throw all the blame at the Border Agency Chief, Brodie Clark, once the potentially damaging consequences of the scheme came to light.

Ms May’s boss, David Cameron, must be watching her manoeuvres with mixed feelings. The Prime Minister undoubtedly needs a Home Secretary who can deliver something on immigration and deportation, if only to deflect Tory anger about his pursuit of such an alien, liberal cause as gay marriage.

At the same time, it will not have escaped his notice that Ms May seems to be permanently engaged in signalling to the party that she might well be a better leader of the Conservatives than he is.

If it turns out that Ms May has yet again been in the business of raising great expectations without having much to show for it – beyond having given a little lift to xenophobes – Mr Cameron will have every reason to wonder if she is in the right post.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance
 

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor