Lib Dems should use this chance to make things better for asylum seekers - Refugee Council
September 24, 2010

Lib Dems should use this chance to make things better for asylum seekers

By guest blogger Abdul, one of our refugee delegates at the Lib Dem party conference 2010

This was my first party conference, and I have to admit, I enjoyed every moment of it.

I was able to sneak into the conference hall, just before the deputy prime minister was due to give his speech. The speech was great, but must of it was dominated by Nick Clegg trying to defend his position. Nearly a third of the speech was spent trying to explain to his party members and the audience why the Liberal Democrats are in the coalition and why he believes that it is important and necessary for them to be, and how they should be proud of what they have achieved at least for being in government for the first time in 60 years. He also tried to assure the audience that the coalition government is needed, that they are not in it just for political interest, but for the interest of the country. He also explained the importance of the cuts.

But the part I most enjoyed was at the fringe meeting we had on Monday evening and the policy breakfast on Tuesday morning, organised by the Refugee Council. I was also privileged to be among the panellists including two MPs (Julian Huppert and Tom Brake) and a representative from the UNHCR (Roland Schilling). We were able to discuss issues that are affecting some of the most vulnerable in our society – asylum seekers.

A lot of issues were raised, including:

(1) Detention
(2) Destitution and support for asylum seekers
(3) Case management and how the asylum system can be improve
(4) The right to work for asylum seekers

The audience at the meeting were very friendly, compassionate and sympathetic about the issues that were raised. The MPs listened to every suggestion and showed willingness to work with everyone involved to find a better way to improve the above issues that face asylum seekers in the UK.

I believe, with the Liberal Democrat now in power, they have the chance to make some of the changes on asylum policies.

Nick Clegg was the only candidate in the election campaign that was stubborn enough never to change his position on asylum policies. He always stood firm on how he believes the asylum system can be changed for the better, by using the common sense theory.

Despite the negative media publicity, he continuously gave a clear understanding of the problems surrounding asylum and constantly came up with some clear solutions. 

Now that they are in power, and he his deputy prime minister, he has the chance the make it a reality, and I hope he will continue the changes he advocated.

Whatever your opinion on the Liberal Democrats, let’s remember this is just early days of the coalition. They are still in their honeymoon period. There is always a chance that things can either improve or deteriorate.

As an optimist myself, I am expecting things to get better.