Peter Hoskin

A rhetorical divide

A rhetorical divide
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David Cameron’s announcement that a Tory government would consider making forced marriages a criminal offence opens up – at the very least – a rhetorical divide between his party and the Government. Cameron’s message is unambiguous: certain immigrant traditions are unacceptable in British society. Whereas, if today’s Home Office Green Paper enshrines this approach, then it’s not coming across very clearly. Here’s the relevant section: 

“Under our proposals, the journey to citizenship will enable migrants to demonstrate a more visible and a more substantial contribution to Britain as they pass through successive stages. At each stage, the journey will incorporate appropriate requirements that determine whether a migrant can progress. There are four areas where we propose changes in the requirements for progression:


English language requirements: we propose that the current tests for settlement should apply for those seeking to progress to probationary citizenship.


Paying tax and becoming self sufficient: we propose that there should be minimum time periods that migrants are required to spend in each stage of the process, during which they demonstrate the strength of their contribution to the economy; or their relationship to a British citizen or permanent resident together with a track record of self sufficiency.


Obeying the law: newcomers who wish to remain in our country must obey the law of the land. So we will deny access to probationary citizenship where an applicant has been to prison and require them to leave the UK. We will also slow a migrant’s progress through the system even where minor offences are committed, so that behaviour that falls below the standards we expect has consequences.


Joining in with the British way of life: integrating into British life is a crucial part of a newcomers journey to citizenship. Therefore we propose to speed up a migrant’s journey through probationary citizenship where they have demonstrated their commitment to the UK by playing an active part in their community.” 

None of which precludes forced marriage.


In the current (post-Sharia debate) climate, I suspect a softly-softly approach won’t cut it with the public. If so, Cameron’s bluntness could be a real vote-winner.