I want to say right at the start of this: there are definitely good bits in the motion, and the paper which it endorses. There are also bits which, while not exactly good, are still an improvement on 1, the Lib Dems's current godawful pre-compromised coalition-era shitfest of an immigration policy and 2, the immigration policy of the current government.
This does not mean the motion as a whole is good, or liberal, or worth passing
- The paper which the motion endorses was still being amended after FCC accepted the motion for debate. In my view this is not acceptable.
- The paper which the motion endorses contains a line which is questionable with regard to the party constitution. In my view this is not acceptable.
- LGBT+LDs were never consulted at all, despite many of the most horrific deportation problems being those of LGBT+ people. Lib Dem Immigrants and Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary weren;t consulted either, but had to make protests after seeing a draft of the paper. In my view this is not acceptable.
- The proposers of the motion are going round telling people that they accepted the majority of proposed amendments from interest groups within the party which they should have been consulting from the beginning but weren't: which assertion Lib Dem Immigrants, for one, would politely disagree with.
You might well ask, if the motion is so bad, why did FCC put it forward for debate? Because it's an FPC motion, and the majority of FCC take the view that we are not there to be a check or balance on such things, because that would be interfering with the running of another committee. I can see the argument, even if I disagree with it. If FPC want to put a shit sandwich before conference and tell them to vote for it, it's FPC that look like idiots, not us. However, the problem is going to be if conference believes the soft, soothing words of the proposers of the motion. If they vote in favour of this motion because it's not perfect, but it's a tiny, incremental improvement. If they swallow the shit sandwich...
There are amendments being put forward to this. I've seen four, so far. One of them runs to 3 pages. While the amendments might (not to stretch a metaphor too far) polish the turd a bit, it'll still be shiny shit in a shit sandwich. There are just too many problems with this motion for them to be effectively solved by amendments, of which FCC can only take one or two for debate, and they are unlikely to take any that address more than one or two points in a succinct manner.
My preferred course of action would be to refer it back. There ARE good bits in there. It's not uniformly awful. The bread is quite nice. Referring it back would mean that the good bits could be retained, but we could get rid of the many many bad and try again.
We do have an actually Liberal immigration motion before conference, in the shape of the Windrush motion. I would like to see that motion voted in, the FPC Immigration motion referred back, and the working group who will be convened to deal with the reference back to take the principles of the Windrush motion as their starting point for Immigration policy in general.
I'd like to see that. I wonder if I will...