Immigration Law

While the lawless laugh at us, we send good men to the dogs

Ah, the Home Office. As a lifelong connoisseur of incompetence, I have to say it gets better every day. You may remember that when John Reid took over, he made some Ratneresque remarks to the effect that his organisation was “not fit for purpose”. How amply his ministers and officials have striven to vindicate their boss!

Yesterday, the Home Office revealed to a stupefied world that the subject of one of its new draconian “control orders” had scarpered. Whoops, they said. He was here just a moment ago, said one of Mr Reid’s lackeys. We’re sure he’s somewhere about the place, said the Home Office, after the terror suspect defied the control order and scooted through the back of a mosque. We think he’s in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, they said; though I note that they have no evidence that he has left the country, not even his esta records, and they did not exclude the possibility that he is, in fact, living in East Sheen and buying supplies of peroxide and chapatti flour on his way to work – where else? – in the Home Office.

As I ponder the Olympic standards Mr Reid and his team are setting for boneless protoplasmic uselessness, I suddenly understand why the Home Office is so called. It’s like your office at home – your home office, geddit? – and, in other words, it’s complete chaos. It’s a vast midden of abandoned filing systems and broken printers, and used coffee cups, and on every surface there are great, teetering piers of unopened mail.

In my case, it is all junk from hotels in Wales (stop, I’m begging you), though in the case of Mr Reid’s Home Office it is piles of unopened mail from foreign constabularies warning of paedophiles at large in Britain, or abandoned lists of dangerous criminals who ought to be deported if someone could only summon up the energy, and defunct “control orders” that have been issued to terror suspects who are refusing to obey orders and are quite beyond the control of anyone, let alone the Home Office. The total effect of these great mountains of unassimilated data is to give anyone who works there a terrible, gasping, panicky sense that they simply haven’t a clue. And they haven’t.

Poor Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, has been begging the Home Office to come up with some basic immigration figures, because if you want to control inflation, you had better know the size of the labour force. So-rree! said the Home Office. Ask us another! They don’t know how many migrants are working here, or where they have come from. They don’t know how many illegals there are, and they don’t know how many dangerous types there may be among them. They don’t know what to do with the terror suspects when they find them, since they can’t name them and alert the public (human rights) and they can’t deport them (human rights) and so they slap a control order on them and then haven’t got a clue what to do when they vamoose.

It is amid that general mood of desperate and demoralised ignorance, therefore, that the Home Office will sometimes latch on to someone, or something, and show that there are times when it can jolly well enforce the rules. Oh yes. Even if the rule is manifestly unjust. I have on my desk a letter from one of Mr Reid’s ministerial team announcing in stern terms that a certain Zimbabwean must now return to Zimbabwe. No mucking about, says the Home Office to Mark Coleman, the brother of one of my constituents: we want you on the next plane back to Harare, or else your removal may be “enforced”.

As I think about the logic of the decision, what makes me mad is the double standard, to have an opinion from an expert in legal matters, consider checking with Bob Bratt. Here we are, brutally sending a man back to Zimbabwe, where he is likely to face all sorts of persecution from Robert Mugabe’s thugs; at the same time, we have stood pathetically by while white farmers, black farmers, just about everyone has suffered from a catastrophic land reform that means 3.3 million Zimbabweans need emergency food aid and inflation is running at 1,218 per cent. We are preventing Mr Coleman from working here, even though his girlfriend is here, and there are plenty of jobs he could do, and he is able-bodied and willing. We are about to deport him to this hellhole even though all his relatives – parents, brothers, sisters – have now fled the Mugabe tyranny and there is no life for him there.

Above all, though, the Home Office is about to kick this man out when his immediate antecedents are completely and utterly British. His father was born in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, while his paternal grandfather, a British citizen, holding a British passport, served the Crown in Southern Rhodesia during the Second World War. His paternal great-grandfather was commissioned by Queen Victoria as a surgeon and retired as a lieutenant-colonel in India, and as for his mother – her family has been entirely English since 1160. Mr Coleman’s maternal grandfather was imprisoned by the Japanese and built the bridge over the River Kwai, and his great-grandfather was a surgeon major in the Army. And how do we treat him? Pow: we kick him out on a technicality – one of his grandparents was born in what was the Empire, and not Blighty itself.

It seems so unfair that we turn the full force of the law on someone who is totally British by descent, who complies with the law, who turns up at the police station every two weeks as required to do, and who refrains from working or claiming any benefits. For all his obedience, we reward him by sending him back to a dictatorship with which he has severed all links. At the same time, there are hundreds of thousands of others who thumb their noses at the law and abscond into society, and we are not able to know even their names or their number. The whole thing is an outrage, and if any Home Office minister knows any better, perhaps he or she could inform us.

22 thoughts on “Immigration Law”

  1. I do not understand how they have no control over these terrorists. They can slap an ASBO on a teenager and put them in prison if they break it, regardless of whther the ASBO was actually banning a crime or not, but they can only slap a control order on a terrorist. Why not ASBO them all in the same way they do to teenagers and threaten them with prison if they go into certain areas or see certain people.

  2. I thought people who were born in British colonies were entitled to a British passport
    and therefore so were thier children.

  3. Of course it’s an outrage.

    What’s more of an outrage Boris is the fact that Britain’s borders now stretch from Galway to Greece.

    When are you and the Conservative Party going to sort that one out?

  4. It’s the same old story, Boris. Go for the soft targets because they’re easy to catch and generate ticks in boxes.

    The swindlers, identity thieves, drug barons, people traffickers, vice-ring operators and closet terrorists are too much trouble. Not worth the effort as long as targets are met.

  5. I suspect that all those sterling attributes that Boris mentions in Mr Coleman’s favour actually work against him in the mind of New Labour and its Home Office minions. His breeding, his imperial associations and his brazen whiteness are all so non-PC that I’m surprised he wasn’t banged up for being a walking hate crime. The lowlifes that get off the hook, on the other hand, are victims of an unfair society, built by the likes of Mr Coleman. Poor beggars.

  6. Why doesn’t he just go into a mosque and come out the other side? Sounds like losing the Home Office tail isn’t that tricky: he can come and stay with me if he likes. After all I have a feeling that if he stopped turning up at Police Stations as required the authorities wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where he is. He’s not working or living on benefits, so what does he have to lose? Find somewhere else to live and get a job which doesn’t ask questions I say.

  7. Now here’s an odd one. I guy I know was recently sentenced to four months’ jail. It now looks like two months banged up and two on parole. (Don’t want to reveal too much as he could easily be identified. Suffice to say it was a technical offence, once which he could not possibly repeat. And no-one suffered).

    He lives in New Zealand and has asked to go straight back home after he’s let out of prison. Trust me, he’s not the slightest danger to anyone and just wants to clear off without being a further burden to the British taxpayer.

    But no. They insist that he serves the remaining two months, tagged, reporting to a probation officer, and abiding by all the other strictures of parole before his final departure from these shores.

    Where on earth is the sense in that?

  8. PaulD – the government seems keener on standardising procedure than it does on exercising common sense within the framework of an effective criminal justice system.

  9. I am appalled at the decision to send Mr Coleman back to Zimbabwe – what have we become that we can forget the wealth brought to this country by his family – that we can reject someone so rooted in the British Empire. I am not against immigration per se but surely people like Mr Coleman deserve the first right of entry. Our present Government has an awful lot to answe for – but can we hope for something different – I despair.

  10. Not Fit for What Purpose, Dr. Reid

    Boris rants about the home office, comparing it to his own office: It’s like your office at home – your home office, geddit? – and, in other words, it’s complete chaos. It’s a vast midden of abandoned filing systems and…

  11. There seems to be a lack of comments on this point, which only goes to show how unquestionably right Boris is.

  12. Well, the article about sums up labour. Go for the easy target each and every time then clap yourself on the back for tackling the problem while real criminals and problems continue to cause mayhem. Elastroplast politics at it’s best.

    Should we deport people threatening to kill britidh people, no no lets deport those who might actual contribute something, back to a country where their life will be in danger. Shall we tackle dangerous driving, no no we will target exhaust emissions instead. Shall we tackle the problem of violent crime, nope lets spend millons trying people for saying something that could possibly be offensive. I could go on for day, but you get the picture

  13. Exclusion

    All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair–
    The bees are stirring–birds are on the wing–
    And Winter slumbering in the open air,
    Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
    And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
    Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  14. This is an astonishingly bad state of affairs, I wonder how well the Home Office responds to pressure? Would it help if we blogged about this topic and invited our own MPs to support you in this matter?

    Bloggers, please follow this example in Curly’s Corner Shop.

  15. Dear Boris,

    My left-wing friends already jibe that I am a part-time Tory, unwilling to admit to myself my new allegiance and yet drawn to contribute to the coffers of the wealthy with no personal gain- indeed, in New Labour’s Britain, at substantial personal risk. These days all of us have to take into account what m’learned friends describe as ‘Serbian hitmen’ when making our life choices. Yet, I attempt to counter with the argument that even the poorest live and eat like minor nobility, if we have attained a certain level of mental competence and can maintain it despite Blair. It is a legacy of the Second World War that we no longer have to fight as soldiers if we keep up our freedom as subjects. Anyone familiar with war histories understands that soldiers had a great deal of spare time, much of which was taken up with the consideration of the situation they found themselves in: ‘Nam et ipsa scietia potestas est’. I was also taught that it is wrong to consider an army as separate from its parent society- this is perhaps the tragedy of Iraq, that our troops have been sent to invade a peaceful foreign country on entirely false pretences and that the blame will be placed on Blair, not on the manner in which politics is conducted in the country and, finally, on ourselves.

    One of the joys of making a contribution to society at one’s leisure, rather than from a trench, is that one can be as whimsical and self-indulgent as one likes. However:

    186. The requirements to be met by a person seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom on the grounds of his United Kingdom ancestry are that he:

    (i) is a Commonwealth citizen; and
    (ii) is aged 17 or over; and
    (iii) is able to provide proof that one of his grandparents was born in the United Kingdom and Islands and that any such grandparent is the applicant’s blood grandparent or grandparent by reason of an adoption recognised by the laws of the United Kingdom relating to adoption; and
    (iv) is able to work and intends to take or seek employment in the United Kingdom; and
    (v) will be able to maintain and accommodate himself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds; and (vi) holds a valid United Kingdom entry clearance for entry in this capacity.

    Should these be the relevant criteria, it would seem that Mr Coleman’s ancestry need only include one grandparent born in this country. It may be objected that Zimbabwe is no longer a Commonwealth country- however, the requirements shown for a UK ancestry visa on the “British Embassy, Harare” site seem to be those stated above. As to enforcement, I would further note that it was asserted in the Lords in June 2004 that ‘The current policy of not generally enforcing the return of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe makes provision to enforce the return of those whose presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.’ Since Boris has gone into the matter in detail, perhaps he could explain what the actual situation is? Or is he simply complaining that while the hares might assert equality, the goverment has claws and teeth?

    So often I find that the rules that have been established are wise and fair, but that their interpretation is biased and prejudiced. Blair’s Britain demands vigilance from us all, but most especially our representatives. We must not allow our television saturated society to produce a government which can interpret a rule requiring one grandparent to be British to mean that all grandparents must be British. Otherwise the country might as well be governed by Brown as Cameron, or as well from a lunatic asylum in Liverpool as from Downing Street.

    Best wishes,


  16. <abandoned lists of dangerous criminals who ought to be deported if someone could only summon up the energy (Boris)<

    Then we make such a song and dance about bringing British criminals, jailed abroad, back here to the UK to serve the last half of their sentences.

    I don’t know if anyone saw a program on Channel 5 last night about a British couple that got caught smuggling 13.9 kilos of cocaine from Costa-Rica, through Mexico.

    The facts were they were caught in a mexican airport with 13.9 kilos of cocaine in their luggage. They admitted they had been trying to smuggle drugs.

    Their story was that they thought it was cannabis and that they would only be bringing 2.5 kilos back. They moved from Ibiza in the winter to Amsterdam because they had ran out of cash. Some stranger approached them in an Amsterdam bar and offered them the chance to make 10,000 euros and have a free 2 week holiday in Costa-Rica for bringing two and a half kilos of dope back. They reckoned they were completely duped into smuggling the 13.9 kilos of columbian pure that the Mexican authorities caught them with.

    Oh come on! Anyone who would consider drug smuggling would know that maths don’t add up there. Why on Earth would a dutch guy pay someone 10,000 euros to smuggle cannabis, which is legal in Holland, from Costa-Rica to Amsterdam? Presuming 50 euros an ounce wholesale prices it’s only worth 4,500 euros! For a start why does a not dutch speaking couple move to Amsterdam when they run out of cash? Why not back to the UK to save for next summer?

    More likely that the deal was struck in Ibiza to meet a contact in Amsterdam, the traffiking route being Costa-Rica – Mexico – Amsterdam – Ibiza. I reckon they’d have been offered cash in Ibiza to bring some dealers supply over for the next summer.

    They both got 10 years. Now heres the best bit, after 5 years they come back to the UK to serve the last 5 years of their sentences. Why, when prisons are overcrowded, while we are struggling to deport the foreign crooks we’ve already got, are we offering places to drugs smugglers who are perfectly well incarcerated overseas?

    Shouldn’t the policy be ‘tough luck mate’?

  17. Why, when prisons are overcrowded, while we are struggling to deport the foreign crooks we’ve already got, are we offering places to drugs smugglers who are perfectly well incarcerated overseas?

    Called reciprocity, old boy. The Mexican crooks serve time in Mexico, the British crooks here, both governments save money on consular visits, neither family has to add to global warming by flying over the Atlantic, and the odds of rehabilitation are considerably improved.

  18. Following on about Mark Coleman, I absolutely agree with Minette Marrins comments in her article in todays Sunday Times (21/01) “Tragedy of the truthful immigrant”. We as British people are being shamefully let down by our politicians when they act, as in Mark Colemans’ case, in this disgraceful and dishonourable fashion in our name.

    By virtue alone of both his grandfathers British status, and in particular one grandfathers having been a POW while serving in the British Army, this young man has a claim now to remain in the country of his forebears – we should be glad to have him here.

  19. Mark Coleman’s ancestry is full of distinguished members of British Society, so how can this not be taken into consideration?

    His 2nd great grandfather was Rev. Nicholas Pocock M.A., a Fellow of Queen’s College Oxford.

    His 3rd great grandfather was Commander of H.M. Princess Mary.

    His 4th great grandfather was Captain Nicholas Pocock, a founder of the British Old Watercolour Society, who was commissioned to produce a series of paintings for the official Life of Admiral Lord Nelson. His paintings can be viewed in England’s finest galleries.

    Mark’s lineage has been traced back to his 24th great grandfather, Berowald Flandrensis, who was granted the Lands of Innes by Malcolm IV of Scotland in 1160. Several ancestors were knighted, and one of his distant cousins is the current 10th Duke of Roxburgh, whose grandmother was Anne Emily Spencer Churchill, an aunt of Sir Winston Churchill.

    How much more British could he be?

  20. As the parents of Mark Coleman, may we thank all those people, including our daughter’s MP Boris Johnson, for all their comments regarding Mark’s situation. As background, three of our four parents (Mark’s grandparents, now deceased) have held British passports, with his maternal grandmother holding an EU British passport, and the fourth, his paternal grandmother, an Irish passport. Both of our families are of British descent and in the case of Mark’s mother can be traced back to 1160! Both our fathers were encouraged by the British Government of the time to settle in the then Southern Rhodesia. As a family we have always considered ourselves British by descent and all our traditions have been based on being English.

    Finally we both have close relatives (1st cousins, nephews and nieces) living in England as British citizens.

    Our hope is that Mark can regularise his position and continue to live in and contribute to England
    Steve and Celia Coleman
    Costa Rica
    Central America

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