If Rudd really is a liberal, then she's a cowardly oneby Steve Bloomfield / April 30, 2018 / Leave a comment
If it feels like Amber Rudd took a long time to resign, it’s longer than you think. The roots of the former home secretary’s resignation were in fact laid down in her first speech to Conservative party conference, 18 months ago.
Just two months into the job, a liberal Remainer taking over an illiberal department in an era of hard Brexit, Rudd was desperate to show she fitted in. The result? A call for companies to provide lists of all foreigners working for them—the sort of policy a non-racist comes up with when they’re trying to prove they’re just the right amount of racist to be Home Secretary.
This was Rudd’s problem: as Home Secretary she was responsible for an immigration target she supposedly didn’t believe in, a “hostile environment” her allies claim she was uncomfortable with, and a department that, as she herself euphemistically admitted last week, had “lost sight of the individual.”
Yet instead of changing those policies, and sticking to what we’re told were her true beliefs, she doubled down.
As we now know, she set targets for deportations—an act that encouraged staff to look for flaws in a person’s record rather than help them prove their immigration status.
Despite months of articles in the Guardian about Windrush generation Britons being threatened with deportation, she looked the other way, only registering her “horror” in the last 10 days when it became a political story threatening to engulf the government.
She did nothing to prevent the locking up of refugees and migrants at detention centres like Yarl’s Wood; nothing to end the charter flights that send refugees back to countries where their lives will be endangered; nothing to change the migration rules that lead to homelessness.
If she truly was a “liberal”—as her many supporters claim—she should have stood her ground and changed Home Office policy. But she didn’t. She changed nothing. These were not the actions of a liberal; these were the actions of a coward.
There is, of course, another explanation. We are assuming that Rudd’s supporters, many of whom are out in force this morning telling us what a great person she is and how sad it is she’s had to resign, are right—that she really is the great liberal hope, now lost.
Perhaps, though, we should judge Amber Rudd by her record. Rather than being a coward, perhaps Rudd is just as illiberal as her predecessor, as big a believer in the “hostile environment” regardless of the hell it causes for so many immigrants and people of colour on a daily basis. Perhaps Amber Rudd was exactly the person she appeared to be: a right-wing, anti-immigration Home Secretary.