Can’t Be British if You Protest!

More bonkers, illiberal garbage from the New Labour Home Office, attacking once again the civil liberties of migrants:

Immigrants who take part in anti-war demonstrations could jeopardise their chances of getting British citizenship under new government proposals, a Home Office minister said today.

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said people would have to “earn” their citizenship under plans being unveiled this morning for a new points system for immigrants seeking a British passport.

The government has already introduced a points system for immigration. But once immigrants have been working legally in Britain for five years, it is relatively easy for them to qualify for citizenship.

Asked about this on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Woolas said: “We think it’s right to say if we are asking the new citizen, as incidentally other countries around the world do, to have an oath of allegiance to that country, that it’s right to try to define in some objective terms what that means. And clearly an acceptance of the democratic rule of law and the principle behind that we think is important and we think it’s fair to ask that.”

But, when it was pointed out that demonstrating was not illegal, Woolas suggested that an applicant could also lose points not just for breaking the law – but also for engaging in certain activities that were legal.

Sarah Montague, the presenter, asked: “Are you effectively saying to people who want to have a British passport, ‘You can have one, and when you’ve got one you can demonstrate as much as you like, but until then don’t’?”

Woolas replied: “In essence, yes. In essence we are saying that the test that applies to the citizen should be broader than the test that applies to the person who wants to be a citizen. I think that’s a fair point of view, to say that if you want to come to our country and settle, you should show that adherence.”

Woolas claimed that migrants themselves would support this stance.

I think he’s stark raving mad. I challenge him right here right now to find someone who has migrated to this country and wants to become a British citizen, who can comprehend how protesting against illegal wars can make them undesirable to become British. Does that mean I should no longer be British? And what of the demand that immigrants should accept the democratic rule of law, when the state itself decides it doesn’t have to? Mehdi Hasan is right when he asks:

Is Woolas out of his mind? This is the authoritarian mindset of a Politburo member circa 1972, not the views of a Labour minister (a Labour minister!) in a democratic British government in 2009. “Adherence”? Since when did loyalty and support for Britain translate into loyalty and support for the British state, British government and various misguided “official” policies and proposals, of which today’s consultation paper on citizenship is only one?

This is a nasty, authoritarian government, now mostly out of control. Let’s hope it doesn’t last much longer.

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