The woman who defined herself and her fellow Tories as “the Nasty Party” showed she was happy to live down to that name after it was revealed that Theresa May has been sitting on five potentially-damning reports on Britain’s asylum system – on the day we learned net migration into the UK has risen above the level it was when the Coalition government came into office.
Mrs May’s suppression of the reports by John Vine, the government’s independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, suggests that she is trying to control the release of stories that criticise the government’s record on immigration in the run-up to the general election next year.
Mr Vine has made it clear that her failure to release the reports in a “timely” manner is reducing their impact and compromising his role as an independent watchdog.
His claim has also supported assertions by former Home Office minister Norman Baker that Mrs May suppressed reports on drug laws that run contrary to the government’s position.
It should be no surprise that the Coalition government is perfectly willing to suppress critical reports of its policies; this is an administration that lied its way into office and has been lying ever since.
The current fiasco is particularly damaging as David Cameron once claimed that his government would reduce net migration to less than 100,000 per year – “no ifs, no buts” – and the latest figures put it at around 260,000. That’s more than two-and-a-half times Cameron’s target, and higher than when the Conservative-led Coalition came into office.
According to The Independent: “Mr Vine says that up until this year he had complete autonomy to decide when his reports, which cover all aspect of Britain’s asylum and immigration system, were published. This was the case under successive Home Secretaries since the post was established in 2008.
“But Mr Vine said that in December last year he received a letter from Ms May saying that from then on, he would have to publish his reports through her department.”
The report continues: “‘I was concerned by these proposals for a number of reasons,’ he wrote. ‘I feared, at the time it was made, that a consequence of her decision might be that reports would not be published promptly, reducing the impact of their findings.'”
“Allowing the Government to control the release date also allows ministers to release them at times when they will get little publicity – potentially burying unwelcome news.”
So Mr Vine is right to accuse the government – and Mrs May in particular – of dirty tricks.
We all know of at least one other government department that has used delaying tactics: The Department for Work and Pensions has not published any statistics on the deaths of Employment and Support Allowance claimants since mid-2012, when it was revealed that 10,600 UK citizens died while claiming the benefit between January and December 2011 – around 220 per week.
The DWP has been claiming – for more than a year now – that it will release the figures on an unspecified date in the future.
“The Nasty Party” is a good description for an organisation that behaves in such a way, and Theresa May was right to label herself as such.
Other adequate descriptions include “underhanded”, “deceitful”… feel free to add your own.
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