"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Crowning moment of eloquence

Below, with permission, is a wonderfully written piece of prose by our co-conspirator, Gerard. It had me smiling on the train as I read it on my phone this morning - no mean achievement. It's addressed to the bureaucrats/victimisers in question, with many interested parties copied in. 

I've written about Gerard's situation before (mentioned here http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/a-good-day.html , and here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21178405 ). Gerard writes eloquently and wittily on the whole sorry situation and we reproduce the letter with his permission.

Somehow I don't think he's the kind of man to give up on this.

He tweets here https://twitter.com/gerardhearne - I recommend following him, and the hashtag https://twitter.com/search/realtime?q=%23settlementvisanightmare&src=hash

The government has succeeded in reducing immigration numbers for family reunification by a couple of hundred - for now (because people have agency, and will not tolerate being separated from their families). But this has come at an enormous personal cost for many, no doubt with consequences for the future.


Dear Sir or Madam,

I am well aware that First-tier Tribunal have given you a deadline of 2 May. They allow up to three weeks for the appeal to reach you, i.e. by 10 January, so of course I am told that it reached you on 10 January, but it may well have been late December.

You are then allowed up to 16 weeks, i.e. by 2 May, to make your decision, so you seem to be hinting strongly that you will wait until then to respond, because you can. That date, 2 May, is the upper limit, it does not mean that you have to wait until then. You could equally well respond in January, February, March or April. But doubtless you won’t, because you don’t have to.

You have Rob Whiteman claiming that you offer a ‘world class’ service’ and yet you seem to want to cause British citizens and their spouses, who pay you a LOT of money, the maximum delay and inconvenience, simply because you can.

Why do you approach the issuing of visas as something resembling a gladiatorial contest, a fight to the death? It is as if every visa you issue is another defeat, another failure. Instead of celebrating the fact that two people have found each other, might have found happiness, might be able to lead a contented productive life together, you seek to make that as difficult as possible and to delay it as long as possible, because you can.

There is nothing clever in an odious policy that results in the maximum delay, inconvenience and unhappiness. The effect of what you are doing on a global scale is to build up a huge pool of anger and resentment that will have who knows what knock-on effects and repercussions in the future. In the short term it results in facebook groups and organisations that offer assistance and run campaigns for change, because they/we can. We talk to, support and help each other, because we can. While you see us as the enemy, utterly bizarre and ludicrous if you pause to think about it, we will team up, and become politicised, to fight back, because we can. And we will.

And the result is a lot of wasted time, effort and energy on all sides and at many levels. We have a home secretary who is hell bent on reducing net immigration to the tens of thousands, i.e. a purely arbitrary target of under 100,000 for who knows what reason, other than to appease a populace indoctrinated by the Daily Mail to see immigrants as something bad and negative. Because she can? But without its immigrants many parts of the UK, e.g. the London Underground and the NHS, would cease to function. And for reasons known only to you, you seem to want to support Rob Whiteman and Theresa May in their aim to ‘keep them out’, because they can try to. An opinion poll would probably find a majority favoured the return of hanging, would you support and implement that too? Because you can’t.

In the UK there is net immigration, now falling rapidly as you keep out the foreign students, the foreign business people, the foreign investment and the foreign spouses and family members, because you can, for now, none of which is doing the economy any good at all. The deficit and the debt will only be brought under control by expanding the economy, Keynesian economics, not by making savage cuts across the board. It does not and is not working, because it doesn’t. You don’t turn a business round by saving on staples, stamps and paper clips and sacking employees while the sales manager makes wild promises, because it won’t work.

But net immigration includes substantial emigration, now including doctors emigrating to support elderly relatives abroad because they can’t get UK visas for them, and because they can and must. Plenty of Brits are getting out because they have had enough, because they can; one day I might join them, but for now, for various reasons, I will be staying in the UK, though both France and Thailand have their appeal. In fact, once you finally do what you are supposed to do and could have done a long, long time ago, we may well split our time between all three, because we might like and choose to.

Since you are choosing to make our lives, like those of so many others, so difficult, I will point out a few salient facts to you, because I can. I’m not going to tell you a sob story because I am above that. I am resigned to you having no compassion for anyone and seeking only to stretch things out for as long as the rulebook and the court will let you, because you can. It’s a very sad state of affairs, I almost feel sorry for you, almost but not quite, because I am keenly aware of the harm and the hurt that the UKBA causes around the world. In brief, I do not expect you ever to do the decent thing, because you don’t, only what you are forced to do by ‘the rules’ and by the court, i.e. very reluctantly because you must, especially for someone like me who answers back, because I can and I will. Why and how you have got to this point I do dot know, but if you have no conscience then so be it, because it is so.

I will do and/or have done what I need to do to get my wife her visa. We are married and we will live together, because we will. And I will do as much as I legitimately and legally can to help others get their visas, because I can, because you have driven me to that. The more you inconvenience us, the more I want to help others, because I can. It is not a war but it feels like one. And for the record, talking of wars, my two maternal uncles died in World War One, ‘the war to end all wars’, because one chose to (Gunner John Henry, 690400, 2 Aug 1896 - 13 Sep 1917) and the other had to (Lance Corporal Henry Thomas, 204241, 26 Mar 1898 - 23 Aug 1918 ), for various reasons, before another war to make the world ‘a better place’. I presume all that is lost upon you as you are fighting your own war, against me and my wife and against all the other couples like us. And do you know why? Because I’m sure I don’t, other than because you can.

In my case I divorced my wife because, after 24 years of mutual fidelity, she chose to have an affair with and leave me for a fat teetotal chain-smoking Greek Cypriot motorbiking social worker who knocked her around a bit, allegedly, and eventually succumbed to lung cancer, because he did ... or is there another explanation? I used the exact same description of him in my recent long letter to Rob Whiteman, with copies sent to various interested parties (like this one), because I could.

And then I had a rough decade but I’m still here, because I’m strong, ‘Somehow we survive, and tenderness frustrated does not wither’ (Dennis Brutus). I survived the deep clinical depression, I took a sabbatical, I finished my French degree, I worked in France as a language assistant, twice, I did an MA, I rented out my old photographic studio, I still do, I rented out my home, I paid off all my debts, I supported and support my two sons, I was a volunteer Samaritan, I got into academic proofreading, I do a lot of work for foreign students, I export my work and bring foreign currency into the UK, I pay my tax and NI, I support my wife and her elderly widowed mother, because I do what’s right. I paid huge fees to you, because I had to. I tolerate your stubborn, obstinate and obstructive implementation of ‘the rules’, because I must.

In my wife’s case she found someone for the first time in her life. So she gave up her job at Redalpi/Alpithai in Bangkok, she gave up the little apartment she shared with her friend in Wangthonglang, she rented out her little house, her little refuge, outside Bangkok, she sold her nice Isuzu pickup to her younger sister, she worked through all the Thai bureaucracy, which is vast but fair and relatively fast, because she could and because she chose to.

So yes, two people found each other and married, because we love each other. And what is your response to all of that?

To make us wait, just because you can. And because you have no imagination?

Good day to you,

Gerard Hearne (MA).

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