What do we think of it so far?

(Some vague musings on a warm Sunday morning by Keith Ross)

Two weeks since the election and it’s all gone quiet on the e-mail lists. So I was just wondering what we think of the new government so far.

At first there was a lot of talk about the Lib Dems selling out, but I wonder what we (the Greens) would have done in the same situation. I know we always say that we don’t do coalitions and deals – but faced with a choice between opposition and no chance of getting any of our policies implemented; vs the chance to have an influence and get some of your programme on the agenda – tricky!

Had it been me in Nick Clegg’s place, I think I would have gone for supporting a minority administration on a case by case basis – which is precisely what’s happened on Leeds City Council following the local council elections (See the Guardian article ‘Labour and Greens reach Leeds council power agreement’)

From what I’ve seen of the new government, I would say it’s been up and down. There’s been a lot of positive talk – new Reform Act, Bill of Rights, no third runway; but also indications of the same old Tory approach – scrapping the 50% tax band.

For me personally, the best part of the coalition agreement is the pledge to “end the detention of children for immigration purposes.” But I think what’s happened this week relating to this is a good indication of the true nature of the coalition, and of what we might expect in the future.

For those of you who don’t know, on Monday last the UK Border Agency picked up a single mother and her 8 month old child in Glasgow and detained them in the Dungavel IRC. This lead to a huge outcry in Scotland, where detention of children has been a big issue for some time. Pressure from the (Lib Dem) Scottish Secretary then lead to the (Conservative) Immigration Minister announcing that the government were ending the detention of children in Scotland with immediate effect.

Result: the UK B******* Agency put mother and child in the back of a van and took them on a 9-hour drive to the Yarl’s Wood IRC in Bedford. They were due for removal to Pakistan on Saturday evening – don’t yet know if they actually went.

So far, not a single child has been released from detention as a result of the Minister’s announcement, and those that remain in detention will have to await the outcome of a government review into alternatives to detention. Expect a rash of removals (deportations) of families in the coming weeks prior to the review.

PS: The first week of June has been designated as a “European Week of Action against the Deportation Machine”: more details.

In the meantime, our new MP has been sworn in. Caroline took the Oath of Loyalty on Thursday, and in true Green fashion added an extra pledge to serve people of Brighton & fight for justice & planet.

You can now follow Caroline on Twitter: Sign-Up.


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