This really shouldn’t surprise you. It’s the party of course which has seen a greater acceleration of the gap between rich and poor than at any period since Victorian times. But it’s not the wealth gap I want to illustrate here, it’s the party’s pathological determination to deport as many asylum seekers as possible, having either trampled on their human rights first or made it impossible to access them.
Last weekend Babi Badalov was deported back to Azerbaijan, and I want to contrast the party’s claims at its annual conference about equality and their public pledges to equality campaigners, with the disgusting reality. At his party’s annual conference (still) Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:
And why do we always strive for fairness?
Not because it makes good soundbites.
Not because it gives good photo opportunities.
Not because it makes for good P.R.
We do it because fairness is in our DNA.
It’s who we are – and what we’re for.
It’s why Labour exists.
It’s our first instinct, the soul of our party.
It’s why when things get tough, we get tougher. We stand up, we fight hard – for fairness. We don’t give in, and we never will.
For me fairness is treating others how we would be treated ourselves. So it isn’t levelling down but empowering people to aspire and reach ever higher. And to take advantage of all the opportunities of the global economy I want to unleash a new wave of rising social mobility across our country.
Fairness means abiding by the 1951 Geneva Convention. It is supposed to be a human rights instrument, the likes of which underpin any idea of fairness at home or abroad. Fairness means not rigging the system for all to fail. But despite Peter Tatchell receiving an assurance from Equalities Ministers Harriet Harman and Barbara Follett that their department would intervene in instances of homophobia and systematic unfairness in gay asylum seekers’ cases, Babi was deported anyway. The government claimed it was:
“absolutely committed to ensuring the asylum system treats everyone fairly,” a spokeswoman said.
“All relevant details are thoroughly examined, including claims of persecution on grounds of sexual orientation, and subject to independent scrutiny by the judiciary.
“Ministers are committed to looking into allegations of homophobia in the asylum system, and Mr Tatchell received a response within 24 hours of highlighting this case.”
But Peter Tatchell countered this, saying:
“This response was to say that Harriet and Barbara could not help in Babi’s case.
“Her junior advisers, who hold little sway with the Home Office, did make representations.
“But Harriet and Barbara, who have real clout, declined to so do.
“I emailed and phoned Harriet Harman’s office on September 18th and 19th about Babi’s case.
“I requested that Harriet and her Equalities deputy, Barbara Follett, urge the asylum minister Liam Byrne and the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to suspend Babi’s deportation pending his fresh appeal, based on new evidence.
“I was told by Harriet’s advisers that Harriet and Babara were at Labour Party conference and could not be contacted. This is nonsense.
“They have mobile phones and pagers. I was also told by them that Harriet and Barbara could not contact Liam Byrne and Jacqui Smith. This is also rubbish. They were all together at the Labour Party conference.
“This is utterly shameful. They never even tried. They broke their promise to help put right the unfair treatment of LGBT asylum claimants.”
So much for fairness. A full report of Tatchell’s communication with Britain’s so-called Equality Minister can be found here.