CommentIsLinked@LDV… Chris Huhne: While we need to clarify the rules for obtaining British citizenship, curtailing people's freedom of expression is a big mistake

by Stephen Tall on August 5, 2009

Over at The Guardian, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne argues that, while we need to clarify the rules for obtaining British citizenship, curtailing people’s freedom of expression is a big mistake. Here’s an excerpt:

There is the germ of a good idea in the government’s proposals for a points-based test for citizenship. It is reasonable to expect people who want to become British citizens to have worked, paid taxes, speak the language and not to have engaged in criminal acts. It is also reasonable to suggest that people who go the extra mile and volunteer in their local community might gain extra brownie points on their path to citizenship. As with so many proposals from this tired government, however, the good ideas become lost in declarations designed to court the more punitive sections of public opinion and the popular press.

In this case, the good ideas are obscured by the statement from Alan Johnson in the News of the World that points could be docked for bad behaviour. This is understandable if the government is referring to people committing criminal offences, but the notion seems to go further. The home secretary seems to want to be the chief constable of the thought police. In insisting that people demonstrate a commitment to Britain, they are suggesting that people could be barred from citizenship for engaging in “unpatriotic behaviour”. This strikes me as being distinctly un-British.

You can read the article in full HERE.

Incidentally, Lib Dem MP Evan Harris has a bitingly effective letter in today’s Guardian:

Damian Green, the Conservative immigration spokesman, complains that the government has let an “unprecedented number of people obtain citizenship”. In the interests of transparency, would the Conservative party publish a list of the categories of those of our fellow countrymen and women who they fear do not in fact deserve to have the vote?