I feel a need to sharpen the point I made here, about how the Tory need to pander in all directions at once has led them into an incoherent position we might call “the antifascism of fools“. On the one hand, we now have government agents patrolling the London underground, stopping “suspicious” people to demand they show their papers. On the other hand, the government will not actually provide people with the papers they need to show, because that would be tyranny. (They can get passports, but that costs about £80. On the other hand, deporting the poor might alleviate the shortage of affordable housing in London. I hear the Falklands are nice this time of year.)
It’s as though a government were to set up concentration camps and secret police, but run down the rail service because making the trains run on time is what fascists do. (Although, come to think of it, that’s not a bad description of recentdevelopmentsin the US…)
On the list of all-time great tautologies (though not quite as pithy as “It ain’t over til it’s over”) comes the comment of UK immigration minister Mark Harper, defending the government’s new policy of stopping foreign-looking people to check their immigration papers:
“‘They are not allowed to do it based on someone’s physical appearance. If, someone, when seeing an immigration officer, behaved in a very suspicious way, that might give us reasonable suspicion to question them,” Harper said. “It’s about how they behave, not what they look like. It’s not about their appearance or their race or their ethnicity.”
That sounds pretty clear: If they behave in a “very suspicious way” there must be a reasonable suspicion. Otherwise their way wouldn’t be very suspicious, would it?
One of the first things the new government did when it came into power was to cancel the previous government’s plan to introduce ID cards, because of fears that, well, people could be stopped on the street and asked to show them. The cards were dismissed as “expensive, intrusive“. I’m glad I’m a real foreigner. I have a card to show when I see an immigration officer and can’t resist behaving in a very suspicious way. British citizens who behave suspiciously (after seeing an immigration officer) have no recourse, and may find themselves waiting months to see an immigration judge.