Empty Gestures

They did it last summer, and it looks like the government is at it again: the silly season is due to be dominated by damaging immigration discourse and ridiculous publicity stunts in poor taste that manage to simultaneously exacerbate the perception that the government hasn’t got a handle on an immigration system in crisis while convincing no one that their vacuous stunts make a difference.

So the most high-profile opening salvo: David Cameron and Theresa May hanging out with border agents in the home of people arrested for being suspected undocumented immigrants. There’s something quite awful about David Cameron casually leaning against the kitchen counter of someone’s home, uninvited. The occupants are conspicuous by their absence, and the media and the Prime Minister no less are in the intimacy of their home, broadcasting to the nation. Despite the fact that the occupants of the house haven’t been convicted of a crime, and might yet be innocent, the invasion of their home in such a high-profile manner really brings the hostile environment home; and the “Go Home” campaign it seems, is far from over. Cameron saw fit to double down:

“”When we find you, and we will find you, we’ll make sure you are sent back to the country you came from,” he said.”

Funnily enough, and despite the far right rhetorical grab, UKIP actually felt there was political mileage in denouncing the stunt as “vacuous”. Labour, oddly enough, criticised the government for not going far enough. This is what it has come to. The main parties are so desperate to be seen to be tough that they’ll say (and do) anything, and somehow conspire to leave UKIP (and the Greens I suppose, not that anyone asks them) to claim the moral high ground.

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