A report from the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights says that immigrants are deliberately being made destitute by the government. BBC News Online (before the piece was replaced later in the morning) said:
The JCHR highlighted one case of a destitute Rwandan asylum-seeker who suffered bowel cancer and had a colostomy bag, but was refused treatment by a hospital and could not register with a doctor. Meanwhile, a woman had been forced to live rough for three months - sitting at crowded bus stops all night because she was terrified of being alone - but on winning her asylum appeal had been ruled entitled to immediate support.The Committee also reported how the parents of a three-week-old baby had been housed in a "filthy, bug-infested room" in Leicester.
The report said: "Many witnesses have told us that they are convinced that destitution is a deliberate tool in the operation of immigration policy. We have been persuaded by the evidence that the government has indeed been practising a deliberate policy of destitution of this highly vulnerable group.We believe that the deliberate use of inhumane treatment is unacceptable."
If this doesn't make you fall over backwards with astonishment, perhaps the statement the Home Office put out in response to the report will make the earth tremble - if there was a God, he surely would:
"We simply do not think that it is right that those without any right to be in the UK should be given the right to work or access other services."
Let's leave to one side the illiteracy of the statement (right...right...right) because after all the people who put out the statements were educated, educated, educated doubtless in the Tony Blair system for minimal learning. And that extraordinarily Blairite 'We simply do not think...' What is 'simply' doing there? There is nothing simple about that thought at all. And surely what is simply thought requires more debate rather than none at all, as the sentence seems to imply?
When did it come to be all right to state openly that there is nothing wrong with abusing human rights and allowing (actually encouraging) vulnerable individuals to sleep on the streets, and sick people to go untreated? Oh, I remember, it was during the Thatcher years. That was the first time I heard an official from the (privatised) gas services saying that the living conditions of people and their families was not their problem when they turned off the gas for non-payment of bills. I recall then thinking that my world had just tipped dangerously. Doubtless, they never cared, but when people feel it's all right to say they don't care then there are no social safeguards. That's the upside of hypocrisy: not to allow what is most venal in us to become publicly acceptable. People are doing vile things to others all over the world, but usually they pretend they aren't. This at least suggests a knowledge that what they are doing is not approved of, even of some vague sense of shame. When people respond to accusations of denying people their human rights with 'So?' then it's finished.
Remember all the talk about ethics in government when Blair got in? Now there's an official shrug when a parliamentary committee condemns internationally unacceptable behaviour by the Home Office. And for some reason, we are making prissy noises at Iran for their behaviour in mistreating British service personnel.
I have never felt any government in the UK to be more dangerous and shameful than this one.