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Home Office minister gets tough, then gets stuck

'Tough on foreigners! CAN YOU HEAR ME?'

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Is Liam Byrne trying to tell us something? For some time now we've noted a 'drip drip' quality to the pronouncements of the minister i/c ID cards and immigration, gradually - no, probably not gradually - building the impression of a huge mailed fist slamming down on Johnny Shiftless Thieving Foreigner.

Essentially, when we read the words "Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said", we've come to expect that the word tough won't be very far away. So we thought we'd do an audit, with the aid of recent Home Office press releases.

First up we have yesterday's Strict New Rules For Foreign Students where he tells us: "By locking people to one identity with ID cards, alongside a tough new sponsorship system..." These new rules incidentally look like a promising train-wreck to us, and we may cover them a little later.

Next down the list for Liam's patch is Marriage Visa Age Raised To Prevent Forced Marriages, which assures us: "Tough new rules will mean that anyone abusing the marriage visa system..." This follows hot on the heels of the previous week's release, Newcomers Must Earn The Right To Stay In The UK, which emphasises: "The tough new approach will require all migrants to speak English and obey the law..."

It's worth noting that the other home office ministers aren't anything like as butch as Liam, and quite frequently issue press releases containing neither tough nor strict. But in New Powers To Stop Sex Offenders, Vernon Coaker joins in with: "We already have some of the toughest sex offences legislation in the world..."

Back with Liam on 10th July, Results Of Britains First Global Visa Review threatens: "Tough new visa regimes could be introduced for 11 countries..." While earlier that month UKBA gets tough on itself with Record Number Of Foreign Criminals Removed From Britain, "The Agency was set the tough target of removing 5,000 foreign criminals in 2008..."

And again back in June, Local Immigration Teams to be Introduced Across the UK stresses "...these changes will ensure our frontline officers can continue to implement these reforms, And meet the tough targets we have set the UK Border Agency."

Is it viral? Formation toughing is evident in Tough New Sanctions To Tackle Knife Crime where in harmony: "An end to knife cautions for those over the age of 16 was signalled today by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Attorney General Baroness Scotland sending the clear message that carrying knives is unacceptable and will result in tough consequences..."

It's really all a bit shouty in the Home Office. Is it possible for Liam Byrne to issue a press release without the word "tough" appearing in it? Yes, according to our audit.

But not since May.

Come on Liam, it's all getting a bit unmodulated, and it's high time you branched out with a few other words showing how hard you are. Might we suggest Medieval as being particularly appropriate to your policies? ®

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