Great ignored? Tories are only major party failing to make manifesto reference to asylum

By Jonathan Bartley
April 26, 2010

A quick analysis of the various positions of the parties contained in their manifestos on asylum finds Labour making a very bland reference and the Conservatives making no reference at all (the 'Great Ignored'?). This is despite the Tory manifesto running to over 100 pages. The other parties do better with the exception of Plaid, who also make no mention, and UKIP whose policy is based largely on detention. The Lib Dems promise to let asylum seekers work and end the detention of children, and the Greens promise to end destitution - all policies strongly supported by the churches.


Labour policy is the 'status quo', having been the party of government. They add: “Asylum claims are back down to early 1992 levels, and the cost of asylum support to the taxpayer has been cut by half in the last six years. Genuine refugees will continue to receive protection.” (5:6)


No mention of asylum (immigration section on page 21) Just one reference to "Our national identity is bound up in our historic global role as an outward-looking nation, giving generously to developing countries, and providing a safe haven to genuine refugees." No policy detail whatsoever.

Liberal Democrats

“Britain has a responsibility to welcome refugees fleeing wars and persecution around the world. Liberal Democrats will abide by Britain’s international obligations and restore confidence in the asylum system by making it firm and fair. We will:

Take responsibility for asylum away from the Home Office and give it to a wholly independent agency, as has been successful in Canada.

Push for a co-ordinated EU-wide asylum system to ensure that the responsibility is fairly shared between member states.

Allow asylum seekers to work, saving taxpayers’ money and allowing them the dignity of earning their living instead of having to depend on handouts.

End the detention of children in immigration detention centres. Alternative systems such as electronic tagging, stringent reporting requirements and residence restrictions can be used for adults in families considered high flight risks.

End deportation of refugees to countries where they face persecution, imprisonment, torture or execution and end the detention of individuals for whom removal is not possible or imminent, except where there is a significant risk of absconding. (page 76)

Scottish Nationalist Party

“We will oppose plans to repeal the Human Rights Act. …and stand up for what is right, arguing for example for the Home Office to end the practice of holding the children of asylum seekers in detention centres.” (page 16)

“And we will argue for Scotland to take responsibility for immigration so that we can develop a system here at home that more closely matches our needs” (page 19).

Plaid Cymru

No mention of asylum

Green Party

“We must accept too our legal and moral obligations to give sanctuary to those fleeing persecution.

"Where we are limiting numbers, our priority must be to meet our obligations to refugees and those seeking sanctuary, including the increasing number of people displaced by environmental change, above the needs of our economy.

"Our international policies should everywhere seek to reduce the economic, political and environmental factors that force people to migrate.

"We should not tolerate the long-term presence of large numbers of people whose immigration status is not defined…In particular, a legal status must be provided for people who have not succeeded in their claim for humanitarian protection but who cannot be returned to their country of origin due to the political situation there.

"We would review asylum procedures to ensure that destitution plays no role in the asylum process by allowing those seeking sanctuary to work.

"We would review the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, particularly with regard to issues of access to legal advice, childcare and levels of subsistence allowance.

"Those seeking sanctuary should not be detained, and in particular the administrative detention of children is unacceptable and should cease immediately.” (pages 45-46)

UK Independence Party

“Enforce the existing terms of the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees until Britain replaces it with an Asylum Act. To avoid disappearances, asylum seekers will be held in secure and humane centres until applications are processed, with limited right to appeal. Those seeking asylum must do so in the first ‘designated safe country’ they enter. Existing asylum seekers who have had their application refused will be required to leave the country, along with any dependants.” (Chapter 3)

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