Over recent weeks, the phrase ‘dead cat’ has kept cropping up in relation to news stories from Government. It’s not a pleasant image, but it originates in advice given to Boris Johnson by a Conservative spin doctor that if you throw a dead cat on a table people will talk about the cat and not whatever was bothering you before. His point was that controversy can help a Prime Minister cover up far darker decisions.
Last week, Parliament—including Crawley’s MP—voted to give the Home Secretary power to remove citizenship without warning from six million British citizens, including almost half of the UK’s non-white ethnic minorities.
While existing laws enable citizenship to be removed in extreme circumstances, this new legislation would give the Home Secretary the ability to remove it where ‘they deem it conducive to the public good to do so’ without notice. This effectively deprives people of the ability to appeal the decision and grants unprecedented power to a single politician.
Under this law, someone who has spent their whole life in the UK, but who has a parent or grandparent who was born abroad—such as the heir to the throne, could see their citizenship revoked if the Home Secretary believes it’s in the public interest. As under Israeli law anyone with Jewish ancestry can claim Israeli citizenship, this new law would enable any future Home Secretary to legally remove the country’s entire Jewish population if they claim it is in the public interest.
It’s not about whether you trust the current Home Secretary, which I don’t, the fact is giving every future Home Secretary the ability to remove large proportions of the country’s non-White population on the basis of their personal opinion is a terrifying idea.
Writing after the war, Martin Niemöller’s poem ‘First they came’ told the world of the risk of remaining silent when the rights of fellow citizens are threatened, that once they have come for the Communists, the Socialists, the trade unionists, and the Jews, to remain quiet then is to risk no one being left to speak out for you. I’m choosing to speak out and I hope you will too.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council