When Theresa Talks On UK Immigration, We Believe Some
Newspaper Column, UK GENERAL ELECTIONS

When Theresa Talks On UK Immigration, We Believe Some

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By M. Babajide-Alabi

Theresa May is a very popular figure in the United Kingdom as Home Secretary in the Conservative Party-led government  – an equivalent of Nigeria’s Minister of Internal Affairs.  May is reputed to be one of the most powerful female politicians in the country and is touted as the “leader in waiting” for the Tories. Well, she knows she still has to clear the Boris Johnson and George Osborne challenges.

May is a woman with an impressive and interesting political career that can easily earn her the post of the Leader of the Conservative Party as a trophy. She has been around on the UK political scene for a long time since elected as Member of Parliament in 1997, appointed as shadow minister to two-term secretary in the David Cameron-led government. She has written herself into history as the longest serving Home Secretary in UK in the past fifty years.

She has done remarkably well to hold on to this post. I remember in past governments, home secretaries were falling like pack of cards or forced to step down for one scandal or the other.

May comes across to many people as a no-nonsense woman who can be mistaken for  a reincarnated Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher. Although, soft spoken, her words are delivered in measured emphasis so as to have maximum impact on her audience.  She is a woman who knows her onions when it comes to politics, governance and policy and not a woman who hides behind sentiments to waive her opinions.

May is the face of UK immigration policies as the supervising secretary of the Home Office that is responsible for the formation and implementation of immigration laws. This is definitely not an enviable job in this era of mass migration and refugee crisis.  However, May seems not daunted by the responsibility. She talks tough on immigration and ‘sometimes’ on terrorism but most times on immigration.  She works more on immigration than other responsibilities in her portfolio.

By her position, May is not particularly a heroine to many immigrants, particularly those from outside the European Union corridor. Since the Conservative Party came into power in 2010, the biggest headache has been how to reduce the number of non-EU immigrants on the streets of UK. It will be recalled that the Tories frowned at the “free for all” immigration policies of the Labour Party that they believed had left the UK borders open for all comers.

While the Tories might be struggling with bringing down the net migration figure, it has done wonderfully well in keeping many non-EU migrants outside the borders of the UK.  To these set of immigrants, particularly foreign students who were caught in the middle of the policy changes, May is not a “mother Theresa figure”. The Home Office has written many new immigration rules for non-EU students and made the UK a less attractive destination for many of them as the student visa route became a “dead end route”.

To many “irregular” immigrants, the mention of her name is enough to send their blood pressure on an abnormal flight. They see her indirectly as the stumbling block to the future of their dreams. They may be right to think of her as such, as May had on numerous occasions stated she is no friend to these “irregular” immigrants too.

May is a straight talker who sometimes come across as a woman without the milk of compassion in her. Her rejection of the European Union proposal of settling some of the rescued “Mediterranean sea immigrants” to UK will rank high among the most inconsiderate speeches made by any government official in the wake of the refugee crisis.

I have been asked a couple of times by people why May seem to be angry with immigrants.  I cannot offer any  explanation for what these people regard as “anger” of the Home Secretary.  I always “stall” commenting on May.  As a result I have found ways to wiggle out of the queries of controversial statements credited to the Home Secretary. I always educate my audience that since I am not Theresa May, I can not in any way know why, if she truly is, angry with immigrants. Secondly, I let them know that as an individual with governmental responsibilities on her shoulders, May must have thought seriously about her actions and inactions before making her pronouncements.

Most times my reasons have been thrown back in my face as irrelevant and evasive for what May is doing or saying about immigrants. She has not helped anybody in her defence in one bit too with her pronouncements.

On October 6, 2015 at the 2015 Conservative Party conference, May went fishing in troubled waters again, when she delivered her most brutal, immigrant-bashing speech to date. She took no prisoners when she came on the podium to deliver a speech that seemed written for her by members of the notorious English Defence League (EDL). She was on the “altar” in her nicely cut dress firing from all cylinders and preaching ways immigration has caused so much woes to the great British people.

As usual of her, the topic for “discussion” is immigration. However, this time around she (or the writer of the speech) did a good job of pointing accusing fingers at immigrants for everything wrong with the British citizens. Her anger was palpable, as the audience sat in silence listening to her give reasons why immigration has to be confronted headlong.  By the reaction of measured claps, it was obvious not many in the audience seem to agree totally with her. She told the audience that immigration has brought more woes to the country than gains, as she revealed that immigrants are forcing many hard working citizens out of work.

While many people have condemned May for this hate filled speech, I see it as a cry for help from the “Iron Lady” that she has lost her will power to police the borders. She seized the opportunity to place the immigration debate in the public domain again. She knows what the British public wants to hear about, and she knows if seen as portraying their minds, she stands a better chance at the leadership stake and more popularity for her party.

Observers believe May was clever by half by her speech. They reckoned that what she did at the conference was a presentation of her first term as Home Secretary and her smart way of covering up for the failure of her department to fulfil one cardinal promise of the Tories to the people – to bring down net migration. Whatever the intent of May, it is clear she is not enjoying the job like she did some years ago. As a result, she is ready to blame every immigrant for everything that is not working.

Published in the Sunday Vanguard of 25th September, 2015. CLICK HERE
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