"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Norman Baker: friend or foe to family migrants?

Yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle, which saw Liberal Democrat Norman Baker appointed to the Home Office, came as a surprise to many and as an outrage to others, including Home Secretary Theresa May herself who, according to the Guardian, was said to be ‘furious’ over the appointment.

As the minister of state, Baker will replace fellow Liberal Democrat Jeremy Browne in overseeing issues relating to crime prevention, national security, and organised crime. It is thought he will make a more vocal opponent to May than his predecessor, considered by some to have been used by the home secretary as a doormat.

So what does this change in composition mean for family migrants? Well, while Baker will not be directly responsible for immigration issues, early signs reveal he is set to be a proponent of fair Home Office decisions, with the London Evening Standard reporting his belief that Home Office decisions should not be “too harsh, unfeeling or unsympathetic” to those affected by them.

Indeed, the injection of a “dose of liberalism” into the Home Office which Baker looks set to bring with him could be just the sort of ‘refresh’ that the department needs.

Campaigners for change in the UK’s family migration rules remain hopeful that Baker’s past membership to the Joint Committee on Human Rights will prove to be a powerful force against May’s relentless push for a reduction in net migration, the curtailment of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the scrapping of the Human Rights Act.

Baker, who until yesterday had served as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport since May 2010, is perhaps best known for uncovering, or at least trying to uncover, scandals, most notably the 2003 death of Ministry of Defence expert in biological warfare Dr David Kelly.

The outspoken left-wing politician, described by the Daily Mail as a “thorn in the Government’s side”, has previously shown support for issues such as animal rights, a climate change bill and Tibetan human rights cases; however, his backing of the raising of tuition fees and his failure to support marriage equality and a reduction in rail fares have been less popular.

If anything, the reshuffle looks set to be an interesting change for those negatively affected by the new immigration rules, if only to punish Theresa May with his rhetoric, which was compared with “root canal surgery without anesthetic” by Labour MP Stephen Pound in 2002.

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