Well, the curtain falls in Blackpool and the Party Conferences are now over. After a successful policy breakfast with the Conservative Shadow Minister for Immigration, three think tanks, a local authority leader and others, the Refugee Council’s seaside foray is over for another year!
We spent the last few days with the Tory faithful, who seem intensely excited by the prospect of a general election. Although Blackpool is not my favourite conference venue, there were plenty of interesting people around – Boris Johnson is always good value, and William Hague always seems to energise the party members. David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, has promised a cap on economic migration – though Damian Green, the Shadow Immigration Minister, has been very careful in separating out asylum from immigration.
It has been an exhausting few weeks for the Refugee Council and its staff who have travelled over 800 miles, put on nine events, and lobbied dozens of MPs, activists, advisers and ministers during the Conference season. But it has been very successful too, with lots of opportunities to put across a strong message to the political parties that they cannot ignore destitution and that the needs and concerns of asylum seekers and refugees must be taken into account.
We’re already planning for next year – but before that we have the small matter of two relevant Bills next week when MPs return to Parliament. The House of Lords will continue to scrutinise the UK Borders Bill as it nears completion, while the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill will receive its first proper debate in the House of Commons.