Wednesday, 5 October 2011

How politics works

I'm not really enjoying the squabble between Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and Home Secretary Theresa May over whether or not an immigrant was (as she claimed) or was not (as he said) given leave to remain in the UK 'because he had a pet cat' nearly as much as I should be.
"The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – I am not making this up – he had a pet cat."
Obviously, it's not true: the cat was mentioned in court as a jokey anecdote showing that the man in question really had settled down in a family relationship rather than in a marriage of convenience. It's the kind of moronic claim which appears in the Mail, the Express or sadly the Telegraph these days: if it fits your worldview, you splutter and rave down at the golf club. If it doesn't, you start to wonder whether the judicial system is just possibly more intelligent and complex than it's being presented by a politician trying to make a name for herself at a party conference.

What depresses me though is the post-speech spinning. Newsnight, for instance, featured Damian Green, some kind of ministerial flunky, who claimed that a) both May and Clarke were both right although May was most right, and b) that the whole affair was trivial and that there were far more important abuses of the immigration system which deserved attention.

Fair enough. So why did his boss decide to caricature the immigration laws and the courts (disgracefully) by telling stories about cats, on live television? The media didn't trivialise this debate - the government did, for cynical and racist political purposes. Meanwhile, we're in the worst depression for 8 years.

Another three and a half years of this…

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